Friday, February 11, 2011

Ramping Up...

How to define such a historic moment for Egypt? I don't imagine we can in any complete way, but here's a description of our experiences of the first few days of protests. We'll share more stories soon.

The first of the large protests was scheduled for a Tuesday which the government was calling “Police  Appreciate Day.” A few days before this we were actually (ironically) on vacation with my parents several hours to the south of Cairo. Our first hint that this could be big was from our tour guide who told us that he was getting countless facebook messages from his friends encouraging him to join a big anti-government protest for an event that the people were renaming“Police Brutality Day.”

We arrived back in Cairo from our vacation Tuesday morning. When we arrived at the train station our driver loaded us into his van, but then he said that we needed to wait a minute so that a police car could escort us back to our place. Our driver assured us that this was normal, but Stephanie and I new that it was not, because we had never heard of or seen such a practice before. But we arrived back in our apartment easily enough,. The protests on Tuesday were very large indeed.

For the next two days one could avoid the reality of the protests if one wanted to, as they were confined to the downtown area around Tahrir square. On Wednesday, which was the day Stephanie took my parents to see the pyramids just outside of Cairo, I (Paul) got word that protests in Tahrir square were getting heated, and so I decided I needed to give them a call to warn them to avoid driving through downtown on their return journey. I heard Stephanie pick up and began to speak my warning, but was interrupted with...  “Paul, your mom is getting on a camel!!! Woo Hoo!!!”

This was not what I wanted to talk about. But the surreal truth of that moment was that Cairo existed in two worlds. One that was the same as always, and one that existed downtown that called for drastic change. But they arrived home safe, and Thursday was similar in it's split reality to Wednesday.

On Friday, the protests came to us all...

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