Yesterday we joined another family to explore the beach, about a 15-minute walk from where we live. The busy streets on the way to the beach were lined with fancy air-conditioned shops, open air convenience stands, food trucks and corn roasting stations. Vendors shouted over the cacophony of car horns. Colourful billboards towered over us and monochrome buildings over them. Every where I turned my senses were overwhelmed with colours, sounds and smells.
Crossing busy roads was like a twisted version of frogger. To cross one must confidently step in front of a car while fervently hoping they actually stop. The right of way does not seem to be dictated by traffic rules, but by boldness, whether pedestrian or car. It is a world away from the Yukon where cars slow down if they even think a pedestrian is considering crossing the road. Miraculously none of us were hit. On the way back we creepily stalked an Egyptian woman to get across El Horreya at a zebra crossing and in order to traverse the last lane we had to squeeze through two cars and pray they didn't accelerate.
Mercifully there was a pedestrian tunnel under El Cournish Road (the main road along the sea). By then I was very hot and eager to dip my toes in the cool sea. We approached several entrances to the beach but we were turned away because they were members-only beaches. Eventually one of our companions discovered that to get a spot on the public beach you need to be there at 10am and it costs 200 LE (about 20 British pounds or 33 Canadian dollars) per adult. Alternatively there was another beach 6 miles away where we might have better luck. At that point I could feel the rivulets of sweats making their way down my legs slowly gain the momentum approaching a small creek and opted to head back, once again facing the gauntlet of traffic, trains and vendors.
We haven't given up. Tomorrow we've decided to take a taxi to a beach further from the city where the teachers usually go on week-ends. I'm determined - my toes will meet sea this time!