Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It has been two nights since I left. No gunfire to put me to sleep. Instead I wake up in the comforts of a snow encrusted Prague, and some resemblance of a routine. I am watching the country I enjoyed so much fall apart from the safety of a Czech beer and a leather chair. I am no longer in the regime imposed stone-age I was in. There are times when I lament how connected I am, and then when I do not have any connection, as was the case when internet and phones were shut down by the regime for days, one comes out with a new appreciation.
I learned I can survive under even harsher circumstances than what I thought. Gunfire, stone age living, and the unknown sure help one grow up. I learned of a truly neighborly and compassionate lifestyle, that men would arm themselves to protect their families, property and friends. This is thankfully not a distinctly American value, but shared by those who seem so distant from us. That distance gap greatly shrunk when I saw the struggle these people went through. When we go abroad we notice how different things are, but we seem to see how much alike we really are. For once it wasn’t about making an extra buck, or ferrying tourists to old piles of rock. It was about freedom and choice.
I was very pleased with my packing job, which leads to my next one. The plan is to hopefully head to the Gulf for more Arabic, but certain people need to give clearance first for that. If not I will head back to Drake. Now I wait and as I look out on the snow next to the tarmac, I reflect.
I marveled at the pyramids. I listened to Jimmy Buffett by the Mediterranean Sea. The hookah smoke rings were formed, and prices expertly slashed with a look and a few Arabic phrases. Entire conversations were had with me in the Arabic corner, and an Egyptian representing the English language, which later turned to all Arabic, and a smile to my linguistic competence. We can judge places from an air-conditioned tourist bus, send a few postcards and then return to our western hotels and call it “travelling.” Every once in a while comes the opportunity to get off the beaten path and to see something different and real. I am not sure what words if any can best describe what we saw differently than our counterparts holed up in a 5-star but to sum it up I would use “heart.” I got to truly see the heart of a city, which expanded to the heart of a nation.
I spent 12 days in the sandbox. I pulled out 4 months shorter than I had planned, with a little less clothing, but so much more in memories.

1 comment:

Terrell said...

Got this from my sister is in Cairo. (BTW, I like your jersey, I might still have one with the same Greek letters ... doesn't fit anymore.

Good morning,
Our internet has been on for a few hours. We thought that might be enough to get all the protestors to go home.
On the news the only place they show is Tahrir. The rest of Cairo is much different. Where I live the atmosphere was much different than the past few days. People are much more relaxed. More stores were open, people weren't buying groceries for a week or two, some cars were waving flags.
There have been lots of people downtown but most Cairenes were at their homes. They worked together to protect their homes. Muslims and Christians were together. The people I talked to said most of their neighbors don't want President Mubarak to leave now. Some like him and would even like him to run again. Most think it is time for him to leave but think he's done a good job for Egypt. They don't want him to leave immediately because that could leave Egypt in a bad situation since there is no one ready - and no one knows enough about anyone to know if they might make a good president.
I don't know where the horses or camels in Tahrir now came from. The army has told people to leave and many have. I don't know if the trouble makers are the ones left or what.
Our curfew has changed. I thought it was for tomorrow but I guess it was today that we could be out until 5pm. The curfew has not been striclty enforced - or enforced at all. The friends I was with the last two nights are on a sort of main road. The wife and I were watching the street from the roof for a while and at 7 - 8pm there were a lot more cars than I expected. The men of the neighborhood had arranged several check points. In front of my friends building was one. The men stopped all the cars, checked the trunks for any kind of weapon and checked car registrations to make sure the car wasn't stolen. there was another check pt in another 150 yards and another one a bit later. They gave the cars a password to tell the next checkpt so they wouldn't have to check trunks and registrations again. And everybody cooperated with these "police".
Really other than Tahrir, Cairo has been peaceful today.

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