AFCON: Rude welcome for Standard reporter on first day in Egypt

By Sammy Kitula: Sunday, June 23rd 2019 at 10:00 GMT +3 | Football
Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah (3rd-R) shakes hands with a staff member after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations football match between Egypt and Zimbabwe at Cairo International Stadium on June 21, 2019. [AFP]

My trip to this marvellous country was full of drama. From delayed take-off to almost missing my connecting flight in Addis Ababa, I surely saw it all.

I knew it was bound to be a tricky affair especially when flying at night and into a foreign land.

After a favourable environment in the plane, I was struck by a pungent smell after stepping in Cairo.

It must have been a mixture of sand and rust metal -- and something else I can’t describe, but it was acrid. In a city of millions, you can imagine how suffocating the smell was.

After spending hours airborne and breathing what I could consider as much cleaner air, I was taken aback.

For sure, it was deep that my sinuses are still complaining. It did not end there though. The taxi driver, who picked me up from the airport, was an elephant of a man. What you would consider as your estate towering beer keg of a man.

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“I have two wives. I also have three boys and one girl,” he yells while loading my suitcase into his weather-beaten jalopy. “Are you married? Do you have children? How many…” he probes without any care that he’s not giving me time to respond.

“Yes, I’m happily married and with two children; a boy and a girl,” I offer, but he seems unconcerned.

“Want a cigarette?” he grunts. “No, thank you. I don’t smoke,” I reply. Without any provocation or invitation, he hands me one stick of some smelly cigarette. I shake my head while declining his offer. He lit it anyway…in the car and puffed away with little care of the stress he was causing me. But in truth, he puffed and exhaled better than most movie actors!

I had no guts to complain you know. Lest you forgot, I have just landed in a country where I knew no one, it’s way past 3 am and I am riding with a mountain of a man.

Let’s just say I’m still nursing a sore shoulder from his endless slaps as he stressed his points.

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