Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jan 30
8:16am Local:
“Ian, this is Dr. Mohamed. Please tell the team to be ready shortly. We need to take you all to the airport.”
11:16am: All non-essential military (me) ordered out of country.
12:30pm: Americans told to evacuate by embassy.

It is now 7am Jan 31st. I am sitting in an airport in the desert outside of Alex and have been here for about 16 hours. We will move later today with other student groups on a flight chartered by our insurance companies to Athens and from there I am not sure what will happen. I suspect we will go home, which puts put in international and more importantly academic limbo. I really hadn’t planned on going back to Drake for the semester. Some chatter has come about regarding going to Jordan. I don’t know if I can get clearance to be there.
Once again the students from the Midwest shine. Our student counterparts from another prestigious language program are all east coasters. They kept us up most of the night demanding to know what the embassy/State Dept/their universities/Mommy and Daddy were going to do about the “over 40 american citizens stranded in Alexandria. I heard one of the conversations with an FSO and a student:” Where are you?”
“We are stranded in Alexandria, there was armed men with sticks last night?” (The armed men with sticks, guns etc were protecting us at our place, I don’t know about their relationship with the neighbors, but Arabs are some of the nicest most protective folks possible. As we made the long walk down the road to our meeting point we all thanked the men guarding the barricade. They seemed to understand we were pulling out and honestly looked sad. I rendered salute at the end of our road and 3 snapped to and returned it with a solemn stare.)
“Where in Alex are you?”
“The airport”
You can imagine how the embassy staff reacted to that. We are in a safe location (lots of Army guards on the perimeter and plain clothes men with pistols here, who stayed up all night guarding the restaurant we are all sleeping in) and have plans to evacuate.
This really sucks we have to pull out, but the gunfire and looting was not a safe environment for us to be. Over the next few days I am sure I will go through a whole host emotions. There was so much that depended on this semester, and I have done a wonderful job of tying up my time at Drake until June. A Marine friend of mine once told me Semper Gumby-always flexible. That fits well with the “could be worse, it could be raining” mantra of optimism we take when coming here. I am flexible with all of the daily ritual of being here, I hadn’t really planned on my location for the next few months being flexible.
Well this generally tops all study abroad stories I have heard.
“So, I was once evacuated from Egypt during a revolution…


Wendy said...


I am so glad to read that you are OK. It gives me goosebumps to know you are in Egypt at a time like this. As a "mother" I'm worried and just want you to keep safe.

Thank you for keeping us all updated. I'm sure your parents appreciate your words more than anyone.

What an adventure . . . .

Terrell said...

Strange situation. I talked with my sister who lives there Sunday afternoon. She lives NE of the center of the city toward the airport. She had returned from Thailand early Friday morning. She said that other than a few gunshots in the distance it had been reasonably quiet there. The area residents had blocked many of the intersections with older cars and were patrolling the area. She doesn't want to leave the country (she's been there since the early 80's), is scheduled to go to Turkey later this week but is worried about getting back into Egypt if she leaves.

I think being toward the city center would be much more tense, not sure I'd want to be there.

This is something you will always remember, glad you're safe.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I'm jealous of your experience. Can't wait to hear more. Stay safe and thanks for representing us (Drake and Americans in general) well. - Tim

Jarad said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences publicly. Reading the news from Jordan, I'm not sure that it's much more stable there at the moment. I empathize with you - I was kicked out of Israel during my study abroad program in spring 2002 due to the situation at the time there. The one thing that made leaving easier was knowing I would be back. I suggest you make and keep that promise to yourself. Safe travels!

Kate said...

I have to say, I'm so glad I didn't have a chance to read through your blog posts until just now. I would have been SO much more worried than I already am. This reads like a novel, and the fact that you're actually experiencing all of it first hand is crazy! Glad you've made it to Prague, hope the academics and living situations are sorted soon.

Carrie said...

If you make it to Jordan, let me know, Ian. I know several people there who could be of help - and as long as things in Jordan stay relatively stable politically, I do plan to be there in early April.

Take care! Thinking of you -

Anonymous said...

Semper Gumby

Wise words for anyone to live by.

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