Tuesday, February 1, 2011
“And I said how ‘bout a revolution?”-OAR
It’s 9:05pm on Friday in Alexandria, Egypt. I am safe, up in our apartment. We just stayed as a team for 3 hours in the girl’s apartment. Tomorrow we intend to meet early and see what the country looks like…
This morning I woke up early. Ironically my last facebook post was that “I know how to get around the facebook block.” The government this morning shut down all internet and it still continues to be shutdown. (I will post this as soon as we get internet.) Then the cell service went, and we were only given (ironically) Emergency service. We had intended to go to the fort, the museum, and then shopping for stuff in our apartments. Originally we were told upon loading the bus “the museum has been closed for security reasons.” As we left the fort, the police ordered us to head back to our residences. One of our leaders was at a hotel, and mentioned they had blacked-out the first floor of her hotel which was right next to the rally point for the protest. The IFSA Cairo team, scheduled to land in two days, was also postponed. That is what really got me excited.
Police originally had no limits and exercised zero tolerance. (WORDS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR INTERNET?: CNN IS PROFILING THE TWITTER FEEDS. WE DON’T HAVE INTERNET OR CELL! THE WORLD TWEETING DOESN’T EFFECT THE PEOPLE ON THE STREETS, FOCUS ON THE RIOTS AND GUNFIRE)
Today is Friday and therefore Friday Prayer (which is like the Sunday service in the States.) Police in Alex opened up with tear gas as protestors left the main mosque. Rubber bullets were also used. Much of this we watched from a café as “Love me Tender” by Elvis came over.
That afternoon I was overcome by my sense of adventure. I headed down to the smaller protest area to take some pictures (Insert) from a safe distance. I was looking for an elevated/safe position. It was very interesting to see how many folks were concerned about my presence. “American? Not safe, go home.” (We are sitting in our apartment right now singing revolution songs, the police just left the streets and are nowhere to be seen. Still watching CNN.) Anyways back to my trek: I eventually caught up with the protest while crisscrossing through side streets and train stations in order to not be picked up by the internal security because I had a backpack with a big camera. I jumped ahead of the protest, right infront of a police station. Using Arabic, I asked if I could come up to a family’s balcony and take pictures. They said yes and I stayed to take some wide angle shots of the mass of the protest on their way to join the larger group. I thanked them and then jumped back ahead. I ended up a half hour down the road following black smoke. I came upon large car fires. Smoke started to fill the air from other fires. Young men told me “No more Msr” (Egypt.) Then I came upon another fire, and another. 3 fires in less than 20 minutes? Time to head back. “6pm curfew from the Egyptian Army.” It’s 530 and I am still on the other side of town with fires between me and home. Shit. Time to hike it out. (CNN is saying Islamic threat for a new government. Not true. The military will, and the majority of Egyptians will not support a Muslim brotherhood government. This movement is so special because it is not an Islamic, it is everyone from all walks of life. If America continues to support regimes, in sheer terror of the brotherhood it will backfire like it has with Mubarak.) I was going down an alley and a guy saw me. He gave me a lift back to my area, with me keeping my hand on the car door to bail if need be-couldn’t do that in America. He was legitimately worried about my safety as I was a visitor to his country.) Smoke continued to fill the skyline. (On my balcony, I was overcome by tear gas which has mixed with smoke and filled the city.) We were stopped and had to backtrack because of the protests. When 6pm came around, we were still 2 miles out. I said I was faster on foot, thanked him profusely and skirted around the protest to my apartment. 2 miles in jeans and loafers. 15 minutes with full camera pack, my running partners would be proud. My blister is turning into a pain though. I got (Switched to Aljazeera English-“Protestors form human shield to keep Cairo museum from being looted.” God Bless this country!) Back to my apartment. No one was home, went to the other male apartment. No one home. Went to girl’s place. Building door locked. I am alone in a country with a revolution, and no way to tell folks I am okay. Interesting feeling, but hey this really beats a semester in Australia! Got back to my place and grabbed my laptop, packed another small bag to bail on the country if need be. Then went back to check one last time, and found my team. Thankfully too as my plan would have included, sit tight in apartment till light, make it to the port, jump on a ship and head to Italy. We all ended up at the girl’s apartment where I started writing this.
We have seen the Army rolling into the cities, and the police aren’t anywhere to be seen. Tanks and gunfire are reported. The ruling party building has been burned in Cairo, and one in Alex along with many government vehicles. I have heard a fair amount of gunfire going from traveling between the apartments, which is discomforting. I am really worried about being pulled out of the country.
OAR is still playing in the background singing the line “so I said how ‘bout a revolution?”