2 months in Cairo: dealing with the unexpected

I have been in Cairo for two months and they have been the craziest 2 months of my life. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and experiences, positive and negative, exciting and stressful,  shocking and amazing… I was told that Cairo was a very hard city to live in, by MANY people, foreigners and Egyptians and I thought I knew what I was getting myself into…

I’ve talked about the crazy traffic, the weather and the disorganization of the city, but many cities are like this… but for some reason Cairo is harder, it has an added complication bonus. It’s a lifestyle that truly never sleeps, malls open until midnight, shops until 2am, traffic jams at 3am… the days merge with each other…  there are no breaks, no moments to catch your breath.

View of the Nile from rooftop
Cairo from above

Unexpectedness is the perfect word to describe Cairo, every day something strange-weird-unexpected will happen. I have to admit that this is not only related to bad things, cool and interesting things happen every day too… Everything is an adventure; going for a walk, riding a taxi, taking the metro… the amount of stuff you can buy in the metro is ridiculous, sometimes there are 4 people trying to sell hairbands, t-shirts, tissues, make-up, notebooks and watches at the same time. For me this is part of the Cairo charm…

I’ve had full conversations with taxi drivers in Arabic! The driver speaking Arabic while I try to understand what he says and answering only aiwa, la’, mashy (yes, no, ok)… The other day a driver was teaching me the numbers in Arabic… another taught me the colors (I already forgot them)… Some speak perfect English, some manage to communicate with incredible acting skills…

I was with a friend the other day and we met an egyptian man, who owned a store, he spoke like 6 languages, obviously not perfectly, but he couldn’t read or write… It is amazing how he can recognize different languages and sounds without ever reading a single word… Its the unexpectedness of Cairo.

Egyptian souvenir shop
Our multilingual friend’s shop

I have travelled a lot, I have gone to concerts, cafes, rooftops, festivals, I have moved apartments twice, I started working in something I’ve never done before, I have made new friends and met interesting people…  It has been two months full of unforgettable moments.

Cairo teaches you to accept the bad unexpectedness, there are things you can’t control and you have to let go, as one wise person told me recently, if you only focus on the negative aspects of Cairo (which are many) you will get depressed, you have to focus on the small positive adventures and experiences. Living in Cairo is about surviving and realizing that you need to let go of order and planning (very hard!! Haha) you need to improvise, let yourself go and start merging with Cairo, accepting and sometimes becoming part of the chaos…

The Nile at night
The Nile



  1. nada

    oh girl you spoke my mind, every single thing you’ve mentioned is so true and I actually think about it but reading it from someone else made me smile.
    Cairo is such a crazy city both meanings.

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