CAIRO, Egypt – Magic carpet rides aid in mass exodus from Cairo.
In the days following the civil uprising in Egypt, chaos has ensued in the capital of the ancient land. Food, water and other essentials are becoming scarcer within the country’s capital, causing people to loot and kill while giving rise to a new form of travel.
Cairo international airport has been virtually bum rushed by foreigners and Egyptian nationals alike in an attempt to flee the politically unstable city.
The US has already evacuated more than 1,200 Americans from Cairo on nine charter flights as of Monday. Many European countries have issued travel advisories and have begun evacuating their citizens as well. And although many countries are doing what they can to safely transport their citizens out of the chaos, entry into the airport itself can be a challenge of its own.
“The terminals are full of panicking people. The ground staff is disappearing, and at the gate, just before entering, we all together had to collect $2,000 for a policeman at the door… He would not let us pass without paying,” said a 44-year-old traveler attempting to leave Cairo.
For those who cannot afford the $2,000 entry tariff/bribe, there is an unassuming middle-aged man stationed just outside the main entrance to the departing terminals with a semi-professional sign that reads “Aladdin Air”.
Esru Okowem, the shop owner of Aladdin Air is selling magic carpets that will transport up to three adults or two adults and two children at a time, at an altitude of about 750 feet, across the Mediterranean Sea to the island of Cyprus. The carpets range from $500 for an Arabic commanded version to as much as $1,000 for a carpet that can be commanded with French, German, or English. There is also a bargain bin version that is Latin commanded only for $250.
Many travelers strapped for cash have opted for the Latin only version. “Fuge celeberrima Cypro” is the command to activate the carpet to transport the passengers to Cyprus. Unfortunately for them, Latin is a dead language that very few people in the modern world speak and as a result, some travelers are experiencing difficulties navigating the carpets.
Many carpet riders have wound up in locations not much better than Cairo. There have been reports that bargain bin carpets have taken Americans directly into the West Bank instead of Cyprus making the new location equally as bad if not worse for the weary travelers.
Doctors, however, have successfully navigated the bargain bin rugs and lawyers have been able to give convincing arguments to the carpets explaining why their pronunciations are correct.