Monday, March 23, 2009

At the airport

Greetings from Cairo International Airport. It is 1:27 am and I am here awaiting my 3:10 am flight to Berlin (via Prague on Czech Airlines). It is an overnight flight; I arrive at 8:30 am. I'll be in Germany for a week--attending a conference in Bremen and visiting Berlin and Hamburg for a few days as well. It is my first ever trip to Germany, so it should be fun.

This afternoon, I called to arrange for a yellow taxi to pick me up at 12:15 am. Yellow cabs, unlike the majority of black and white cars on the street here, have meters, seat belts, and air conditioning. And they pick you up, so I call them when I can. The price for longer trips usually ends up being the same as what you would "negotiate" with a normal meterless car.

The driver called me at 11:40 pm; he wanted to make sure he had the right place. He read my address and kept saying "gamb Makdonia," which translates as near "Makdonia." I thought he meant near McDonald's, so I said no and gave him the intersection and landmarks. No, he repeated himself, "Makdonia," and I really thought he was in the wrong place. There is a McDonald's on Road 9 a couple of minutes away. I mentioned the stationary store across the road. He was talking to someone on the street who confirmed the coordinates. He was there, he told me. And quite early, though the mystery remained.

Then it hit me: "Macedonia"! Readers of the blog may recall my posting on the arrival of the Macedonian Embassy next door. Yep--that was his landmark, which he confirmed when I went downstairs a few minutes later. I told him my misunderstanding and think he got almost as much of a kick out of it as I did. So, now, I learned a new Arabic word.

No comments: