Written by Haisam ELkewidy
Four kilometers. That was the distance that separated Josh and I from Cairo Tower. A spiraling frame surrounded the metal exterior, changing into different illuminating colors when night struck the city. For a Friday night, not much traffic raged through the narrow roads surrounding it. This was a good advantage to us, as we made a run for the structure.
Josh appeared to have developed an impressively athletic sprint along the pavement, as I struggled to catch up with him. A large crowd of beggars screamed a cacophony of Arabic jargon, among which I could not filter so easily. They firmly held onto their cellphones, pointing their camera lenses at us in futile attempts to snap palatable photos of us rushing to the edifice. I looked to the right, staring into the stagnant Nile River as no feluccas, cruise ships, or even jet skis skidded along its surface. The northern sectors of Cairo had turned into a ghost town, and the remaining residents tried to snap images of us to immortalize the only foreigners, or their associates, remaining in the capital.
We immediately crossed over the street, and it just so happened that taxis almost ran us over. Horns honked their own symphonies in the night, but it paled in comparison to the intensity of the beggars’ desperation for photos. Josh had reached the other side in half a minute, and I did in a full one. But at this point, I had completely ignored how much faster he was and as we rushed to find security.
Two kilometers. A security guard near a building raised an arm and slashed in the air towards the Tower. I deciphered his message. Simply get to the Tower entrance before the obsessive photogenetics can get to us, and we would find security. The sidewalk was just as vacant, but faint signs of life showed up out of the building entrances. They completely neglected the photogenic beggars trying to run us down, merely staring into their direction and then right back at us. I looked back and saw two of them go right back inside their buildings.
“These people are crazy! How can you ever outrun these people?!” Josh inquired, the apprehension evident in his shouting. “These aren’t even like the chariots in Luxor!”
I had to agree with him on that one. Much worse indeed, much worse. We turned a sharp left onto Tower Street, sheltering behind the shadows of a central tree. The crowd quickly picked up on us, as if possessing feline night vision.
Not even considering the distance just yet, we made a run through the metal detectors of the tower. “Our pockets are empty; no time for this!” I screamed at some of the guards. They seemed to have understood the message. “Etfadalo,” one of the guards told me. “Okey, ser,” he then said to Josh.
It had been a race against time and fate, to determine if we would ever make it or not.