Friday, February 4, 2011

What a Difference a Week Makes: Report from Cairo

Life is strange. We often never see what is right around the corner, even when we are walking directly in the midst of it.

January 14, 2011, ten days before the beginning of Egypt Revolution 2011. It was a perfectly normal day, a little bit of scattered rain, but, otherwise, it was pleasant. Cool, but not chilly. I took my daughter to the zoo (she's 30 years old, but, so what). Many families were out strolling cheerfully that Friday morning. We got ourselves a map, and made our way through the exhibits--parrots, hippos, llamas, flamingos, elephants, German Shepherds, and Cocker Spaniels. We were able to feed a lot of them. We kissed a chimpanzee and patted a lion. We had our photos taken. We had cotton candy and tea.

We left the zoo, took a taxi to the Cairo Tower and rode the elevator up to the very top. We watched the sun set over the panorama of the city, taking pictures as we walked around the observation deck. Then the sun disappeared and the lights of the city sparkled and boats on the Nile displayed necklaces of neon-colored bulbs. A soccer game was being played below us, with enthusiastic crowds cheering on their teams.

We were hungry, so we grabbed a cab and rode down the road toward Giza until we found the Chinese restaurant we had spotted earlier that week. My daughter, after a week of Egyptian food, wanted a bit of change. Then, we took a taxi back to our hotel, two blocks from Tahrir Square on Talaat Harb, the main shopping street. We found our favorite ice cream stand and, cones in hand, enjoyed the end of our last evening together in Egypt.

My daughter flew out early the next morning, and I came home that Tuesday. I had spent three weeks in Egypt, mixing business with pleasure, mostly staying in Cairo but making trips out of the city to Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel. In spite of the terrorist bombing of the Coptic Christian church in Alexandria that happened New Year's Eve, the day I arrived in Egypt, all was quiet. No place I was in and no one I spoke with gave any hints of the coming events. Even people who were there the day before the revolution say they had no clue what the morning would bring.

Now, I sit here and watch the protests and the violence unfolding right outside my hotel, at the Egyptian Museum I visited twice, in Tahrir Square, which I crossed a dozen times, and it is hard to believe I was just there. This is not to say there wasn't a building momentum toward the days the people rose up against President Hosni Mubarak. Unemployment is ungodly high, over 60 percent (and I do not think that includes women). Food prices have been soaring, and students are graduating to lives with no future.

History always shows us what we can expect in the future. We can see this in the United States just as well, as changes occur and joblessness, frustrations, and anger build. Mass murders, school shootings, homegrown terrorism, violence against women and children--all of these are warning signs we should pay attention to, as a nation and in our communities. You never know; you could be watching your children at the baseball field in the afternoon and wake up to find your world turned upside-down the very next morning.

My prayers go out to the people of Egypt, and to Americans. We never know what tomorrow holds, but we can all do something about it today, and maybe we will have a better future for ourselves and our children.


Bail Bonds Las Vegas said...

This is seriously history in the making. Not sure if it's going to turn out bad or good, but we'll be telling the next generations about these events 30 years from now for certain.

Bluewaters said...

Pat glad you may it out pretty much just in time and were able to enjoy a great time with daughter and get some work done also. Cannot believe the views that are coming from both sides of the spectrum here and the disrespect our President is receiving.

Nanna Frances said...

I am so glad you and your daughter are home safe and sound!

ttv said...

I thought Egypt is not like that. But what had happened today in Egyptian polictics.