Thursday, June 26, 2008

Two wonderful drivers

I have often talked about two young men who become my regular drivers while I was in Cairo.

Cairo black and white taxis can be an education. The traffic is chaotic and driving skills are actually very good - but sometimes terrifying. Some of my funniest stories came from bad taxi experiences - but that does not mean that they were funny while they were happening.

Ibrahim and Mohamed became dear and close friends. I could not pick between them on excellence. The only way I could decide whose name to put first was simple - I met Ibrahim a few months before Mohamed.



Both have marvelous English. Both know all the places I love to go. Both will take you to places you will never ever see on the main tourist routes. I will, in the next few weeks, write up the TEN BEST THINGS TO DO IN EGYPT. Watch for this!

In the meantime - both Ibrahim and Mohamed read and write in English and have email addresses. If you are planning a Nile Cruise or a tour make sure you arrive a few days early. Book one of these marvelous drivers, put yourself in their hands, and just enjoy what they show you. You will very quickly realise why they became two of my best friends in Egypt.

I also loved being able to ask them to look after friends - they also did airport pickups - it is SO nice to know that someone is waiting for you with a name on a board instead of having to fight through the taxi touts. Best of all - if I had some pretty young blonde in her teens or early twenties I knew with either of these two that she would be safe and cossetted. She would also have fun as they are both young and entertaining - but scrupulously careful.

Both have 'private' cars - which means that they are not black-and-white taxis and can go to places like Alexandria and the White Desert. It also means they have airconditioning - absolutely essential in Egypt's summers. There is not greater misery than sitting in a black and white cab with the back window jammed closed or missing a winder - and just baking in traffic jams. Both own newish cars which are always clean and cared for. Bth actually have two cars - but where Mohamed's second car is an elderly but immaculate old Mercedes often driven by his brother Ahmed, Ibrahim's is a black and white cab which his brother Hussein uses.

Both cost more than a black and white cab hailed from the street. However, neither will ever try to rip you off. Ibrahim drives me crazy as he will NEVER name a price in typical Egyptian fashion. Mohamed will discuss prices, but like Ibrahim, becomes less comfortable with this as he gets to know you. Usually I estimate about 50 pounds Egyptian for an hour - about ten dollars US an hour. This might change on a drive to Alexandria or somewhere along way away - but for me it is infinitely better value than being hot, cheated, hit on or terrified!

Their contact details:

Ibrahim Taha
+20105238780 if ringing from outside Egypt, or 0105238780 in in Egypt.

Having the number also means you can ring him when you are inside the airport and he is outside! Or - email him before you come on:
"Ibrahim taha" <>

Mohamed Abd El Maksoud
+20105628666 if ringing from outside Egypt - or 0105628666 if calling from inside Egypt.
Email is: "moh mks" <>

Good luck - and please use them and say hello from me. I miss them both TERRIBLY.
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