Greetings from Sunny Egypt!
Wonder of wonders! The internet has been turned back on in Egypt!!! This is the first time I have been able to access a computer since I arrived. All English news channels have been blocked as well, so I have very little idea what this looks like from the outside. But BBC and CNN are back on the air as well.
Things are fine for us. We are in Luxor now, and will be moving out to Hurghada tomorrow near the Red Sea. We stay their for three days and then…back to Cairo.
Everything was calming down, and it looked like a peaceful resolution was minutes away, until the pro-government forces came charging in and turned a hot-headed protest into a violent battle for Tahir Square. The worst possible thing to happen, at the worst possible time. Most Egyptians think it is an organized attempt by the president to stay in power, and I am inclined to believe them. The anti-government side is clearly grassroots – hand-made signs, and sticks torn from fences – while the pro-government side is professional: shop-printed, full-color banners, well fed and well outfited, with weapons and supplies. This is literally a pointed stick vs. gun fight.
In Luxor, it is all sound and fury signifying nothing. The pro-government forces take to the streets at the same time every night and drive up and down the main street with their banners and flags and megaphones, and everyone largely ignores them. It has become background noise, and we have been doing what standard tourist stuff we have, winding our way through tanks and laughing with fully-armed soldiers who are just sitting around doing very little. All for show, with no teeth on either side.
Most Egyptians are just tired of the whole thing. They said what they wanted to say, and now want to get back to the business of living. Meanwhile, as in all cases, the fanatics ruin it for everyone.
We have had some amazing experiences here in Luxor. Unlike Aswan, the major monuments of Luxor are still open, which has been beautiful. But there are few tourists left. Miyuki and I wandered the Great Temples of Karnak and Luxor entirely by ourselves, for hours. That is something money could not have bought at any other time in Egyptian history. Imagine showing up to Disneyland and finding you are the only customer for the day, and it will give you some idea of the wonder.
Hurghada should be even more peaceful. A standard beach resort town with no care for politics. No worries there. Sit by the pool. Read books. Drink cocktails. I am glad we are getting out of main Egypt tomorrow thought. Everyone promises that Friday, tomorrow, will be another Day of Fire. Friday is the Egyptian weekend so people are free from their jobs and can join in the battle.
We do have to return to Cairo after that though, to fly home. Fingers crossed that things will settle down a bit in the next three days, but that looks unlikely. If those pro-government folks hadn’t shown up when they did, then everything would be over by now. Jerks. We are going to see if we can change our hotel in Cairo to Giza, where there are few problems. From there, if we can get to the airport, it is anyone’s guess. We may have a flight out, or we may have to camp out at the Cairo airports. By all accounts, the Cairo airport is a horror show. No food, no bathrooms, hundreds of people waiting….
Well, my ride is hear to Hurgada. I will write again when I have the chance. Pass this around if you like.