Travel Map

Saturday, February 12, 2011



Just after 6:00pm, the Vice President came on tv to inform the country that Mubarak has stepped down as president!  The people have won!  After 18 days of making their displeasure known, the dictator is gone!!

BBC’s transcript of Suleiman’s statement:

Full statement from Vice-President Suleiman: "In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody.'”

Tahrir truly does mean liberation! 

So unbelievably happy for Egypt- more words in the morning, going to be hungover from the celebration!  Mabrouk ya Masr!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day of Freedom?


The country holds its breath as we wait to hear if the rumors are true: Mubarak “will meet the protesters’ demands.”











Talking heads terming this a “fluid” situation….to say the least!  Rumors on top of rumors- he may not be leaving, he’s still in charge; he’ll be stepping down on tv; he’ll make a statement that will be a resignation; the army is now in control- what’s going on?! 

Ok, statement is supposedly live which means Mubarak is still in the city.  Oddly, this gives me hope because if he were going to announce “bad news'” he would probably not be within arm’s reach…

Hm, not so sure anymore.  I’m bad at estimating people, but there are probably over a million people in Tahrir at this moment.  The majority of the crowd believes Mubarak is leaving (according to news sources).  The mood is happy and ebullient.  Oh I hope, for Egypt, that this ends well…

Speech due to begin in a few minutes.  Still hearing that he is not stepping down, won’t know for sure until he speaks.  People are already celebrating- too soon?  Worried about the backlash from Tahrir if he stays…(probably on Egyptian time and will start a little late)

Al Jazeera says hundreds of thousands, not a million.  Still, the midan is so packed you can’t see ground.



Only 50 minutes late…

“your demands are lawful and legitimate”

“I will not run in the upcoming elections”- you already said that

“I will adhere to my promise to [run the country]”- uh oh. He’s not leaving

“peaceful transition of power from today to September”- and an outcry in Tahrir is heard…can’t tell if it’s joyful or indignant

constitutional amendments are forthcoming…mention of discontinuing emergency law “when things are stable”

“I was a youth just like you”

Crowds chanting “irhel” (I think) meaning go/leave- they are not convinced in the least

Crowd volume ramped up…people shaking their shoes at him. (pretty big insult over here)

state tv is not showing the reaction in Tahrir- I wouldn’t either.  I honestly hope Mubarak isn’t in Cairo at this moment.  People are extremely frustrated after camping in the midan for almost 3 weeks- it was like he didn't hear them at all.

disappointment. confusion. people getting ready for tomorrow.

Oh wait, encore by the vice: return to work, “Don’t listen to the satellite television stations, who’s main point is to spread sedition…”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 16


Having not attended the protests in the last few days I didn’t feel I had much to contribute in the way of “news” as I am obtaining information in the same way the rest of the world is.  I did go out into Maadi yesterday, however, and was greeted with a “things as usual” feeling in the street.   Plenty  of traffic, foot and vehicle, and the pre-protests cat calls have returned.  Sitting in a cafĂ© it was hard to remember that anything was going on in greater Cairo.  There were tons of young people, the very hip crowd with their leggings and Uggs, laptops and the like, and they were laughing and taking pictures of each other as if nothing different was taking place.  Maybe it’s not:

In this latest rendering, with Suleiman at the helm, the state's objective of restoring a structure of rule by military managers is not even concealed. This sort of "orderly transition" in post-Mubarak Egypt is more likely to usher in a return to the repressive status quo than an era of widening popular participation.

This article in Foreign Affairs by Joshua Stacher is an interesting take on the situation; it seems pretty realistic.  The gist of the article is that Mubarak is using his regime to play good cop/bad cop in order to maintain control.  Indeed it was easy to see that he tried to quell the protests that first Friday, the 28th of January, with his police force.  Then he withdrew the police and criminals “escaped” from jail and the citizens of Cairo were left to fend for themselves against the “bultagaya” (thuggery).  Still the protesters continued their vigil in Tahrir so the police returned, if only for a day.  Then they disappeared again and suddenly, there were thousands of “pro-Mubarak” supporters in the streets attacking the peaceful pro-democracy protesters.

State tv seems to be doing it’s job as well, as many people who have not attended the protests or left their houses in 2 weeks are calling, “Enough!” to the protests.  State tv is indicating that these “delinquents” are causing all of the problems in Egypt- the bultagaya, the loss of business, the emergency law, the price hikes, all a result of the protesters who, did you know, are all agents of foreign governments attempting to control Egypt?  Not everyone watching state tv believes what they are hearing, thank God, but the influence is strong enough for people to try to call an end to the stalemate.  If I had stayed in my house for 16 days, lost money in the stock exchange, was unable to get money from the bank, was the victim of price increases on staples like food and petrol, and was influenced to believe that this was all a result of the people in Tahrir, then I too would want an end to it all, a return to “normal.” Perhaps there is a bit of Stockholm Syndrome at work…

However, as of yesterday, as this picture from Al Jazeera illustrates, there are many people in Cairo that are willing to fight for this much-needed change:



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 12


Tahrir has remained peaceful except for a few skirmishes with a small group of govt people.  The banks are opening tomorrow, people are going to try to go back to work.  However, many protesters are going to continue their vigil in the midan until Mubarak leaves.  It appears that he’s determined to stay even if the Egyptian stock market plunges and the tourism industry collapses.  It’s only 7 months- all he has to do is write amendments allowing Souliman to make changes to the constitution and leave. 

Here in the apartment it’s been a slow almost boring day.  I spend most of my time checking news sources and email.  Expecting the word on if the semester will begin soon or not tomorrow.  Waiting game.  Curfew has been cut so we have 2 extra hours to be outside! Very exciting…

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day of Departure


Glad to report that it appears the original peaceful group of protesters has taken back Tahrir.  Tweets from 2am stated that everything was calm and people were going to sleep.  So far today it appears that the atmosphere is mirroring that of Tuesday's: calm, excitement, focus, and determination.  I can't begin to imagine how brave those people are for holding down the square in the face of the government onslaught.  They are truly patriots.

We've heard several rumors about what today will bring: either a march on Mubarak's palace or an en mas demonstration in Tahrir.  It seems that marching on the palace would be the option with the most violence, as police have already been seen surrounding it. Latest tweets say march is canceled.  I think that's prudent.
Now the US is saying Mubarak should leave now...not sure how I feel about us getting involved.  It's not our country, I think maybe Obama should be supportive but back off a little.

Right now I can hear the neighborhood kids playing in the street. Curfew has been lifted.  Things may indeed return to "normal."  Hopefully after today Egypt will begin a new term as a democratic nation and things won't be the same as they were before.  Time will tell.


Things still going well, hamdoulillah.  I wanted to take this time to give some short stories to demonstrate the kindness and presence of mind of many Egyptians even during their fight for democracy:

The day of the March of Millions people were sitting on the fences and taking pictures of the small crowd there (still thousands of people) that was rapidly growing.  One  woman started to fall off the fence, and literally 7 people rushed forward to stop her, stood up from under her, and ran forward from behind to make sure she wouldn't fall.  She stayed on the fence.

After the March of Millions, after my roommates and I had spent upwards of 7 hours walking around downtown, we found out the metro was closed and there wasn't a taxi to be had.  We were sore, tired, hungry, dehydrated (my roommate wisely suggested [demanded] we not drink or eat so we didn't have to worry about finding a bathroom...after a while I felt like it was punishment).  We started hailing taxis that had people in them, hoping we could all pile in anyway and share a ride.  Two men told their taxi to pull over and got out, paid the driver, and told us it was too far to walk to our house from there (about an hour and a half- he was right!).  It was so kind of him to give up his ride so three foreign girls who stayed out past curfew wouldn't have to walk home.

As a friend and I were walking downtown on Wednesday, the day the "pro-Mubarak" groups were dispatched, I mean assembled, a kind man stopped us from heading up an alley.  We told  him we were trying to go to a restaurant and he said we shouldn't go because thugs are coming and we should go home and be safe.  On the way home we were mobbed by a really rabid government group.  One man helped us out of the crowd while another pulled his car over and told us he would drive us away because it was unsafe.  We declined but it was nice to know we had options.

Day after day the true Egyptian people prove themselves to be hospitable, generous, and wonderful.  Go Egypt!  You've earned real democracy!

I scoured my pictures for faces in order to make some of the revolution more personal.  These patriots are willing to give their all to win their chance at democracy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tahrir Means Liberation

Things in downtown have turned bloody.  The government supporters/thugs have attacked the protesters all night and we're getting a lot of our information from international news agencies, just like everyone else.  From a few people in Tahrir we've heard that medical volunteers are needed to help the wounded and that people are trying to get supplies in to help the remaining hundreds in the square.  The BBC twitter feed from people in Tahrir is not encouraging.  The original protesters are standing their ground- this attack is exactly why they needed to protest the tyrannical regime in the first place and giving this man 7 more months seems suicidal.  Tahrir means liberation, and as Thomas Jefferson once said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Today we decided not to go downtown (obviously) and instead attempt some normalcy by heading to a nice cafe here in Maadi.  We then walked along the streets and people are still being very respectful and kind to us obvious foreigners.  One man told us not to leave Maadi because it's dangerous- Egyptians look after their guests.  Stores were open and people seemed determined to get things back to normal.  It was really nice.  It makes leaving seem silly.

That being said, I am attempting to make the decision to leave or not based on what I think about the productivity of the semester.  If classes begin will the semester be fruitful?  I can't help but think that people will be distracted (duh) and that things will not suddenly jump back to normal.  I have the opportunity to go to Ecuador, which I wanted to do earlier, and actually be of assistance (I hope).  Do I go?  Do I stay?  If I go I will of course be returning for summer semester at AUC and finishing my MA here.  Ecuador would provide plenty of research for a richer thesis.  It's really hard to decide.  Going to Ecuador feels like a betrayal to Egypt...    

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 9

2 February, 2011

Groundhog day in the states.  I wonder if the furry rat saw it’s shadow.  We heard that in the night Mubarak and Obama made speeches but without a tv we’re left in the dark.  It’s extremely frustrating getting only second-hand information.  Going back today to see the result of the speech and if the Egyptian people will accept Mubarak’s terms. 

Downtown was completely different than it has been in the last week.  The energy was changed and reflected a kind of aggressive desperation.  There was more shouting and chanting in angry voices and we were urged not to go in by helpful Egyptians and ordered not to go in by angry Egyptians.  We stayed out of the main midan and walked the surrounding streets.  We saw several factions of pro-Mubarak people and they seemed to be looking for a fight.  The longer we stayed, the more groups we saw.  Although these groups only numbered about 20, the growing number of them was suspicious.  My friend suggested they had been paid by the government to insight chaos.  Sure enough, a kindly Egyptian came up to us and told us that each supporter received LE 100.  We were slightly mobbed by a crowd of supporters and the shift in the mob mentality was palpable.  To those people we were no longer guests that they strove to protect, unlike the main bulk of protesters.  We went back to the side street of Tahrir and were warned by another sweet soul that Mubarak’s thugs were coming.  Additional road blocks were being set up and the military presence seemed diminished.  I’m afraid that the thoughtful, organized, peaceful protest may be in danger of becoming a full blown riot.  Even on the metro people were shouting and trying to the passengers wound up. 

There’s no doubt that violence is a tactic by the Mubarak regime in order to fight/delegitimize the protest.



1 February, 2011
It’s a little after midnight and things are already gearing up for what appears to be a day of chaos.  We were all ready to go to the million person protest tomorrow- on the periphery and possibly part of the foreigners show of solidarity.  However, less than a half an hour ago we got word that cell phones might be turned  off again tomorrow (today) in lieu of the large protest.  Then we heard a possible conspiracy theory that the Muslim Brotherhood was going to descend upon the protest with weapons and create a jihad.  We have no way to substantiate the report but that understandably dampened my fervor.  As of now, we’re undecided if we’re attending or not.

We decided to go.  The situation today was wonderful- we enjoyed being in the midan and seeing the [peaceful] determination of the protesters.  It makes leaving seem silly.  However, continuing pleas from family and friends leave me feeling almost guilty for not leaving.  It seems selfish to continue putting them through the worry.  But being here and talking with many Egyptians and other expats, it seems dramatic and almost cowardly to leave.  Too late to avoid today, at any rate. All we can do is wait.

Protests Day 7

31 January, 2011

Today we decided that we had been locked inside long enough and we were going to go to Tahrir in downtown where the major protests were.  It was a very mild day, a protesting day off.  That being so, there was still probably 5,000 people or more in the Midan.  My roommate kept observing the festive air and the sense of hope that was surrounding the people.  There was no raucous behavior, just passionate chanting.  A few people noticed we were American and said, “Welcome.”  Despite two signs, everyone was very appreciative of us being there or at least wasn’t bothered by it.

We also went to the Embassy to get information about the evacuations in person.  Apparently the government is offering to loan people the money to get to Turkey, Greece, or Cyprus and once we’re there, we’re on our own.  We were speculating at the cost of the tickets: on a regular day airfare to these places isn’t over $300.  We finally found out that the US government is offering to assist it’s citizens for the low low price of $3,500.   That’s in US dollars.  On one hand, it was helpful because most of us decided to stay.  With prices like that we can’t afford evacuation. 

We also heard that school is cancelled indefinitely and if we don’t start within the next two weeks then the semester will be moved to the summer.  Not only does this affect everything, but most of us live off of student loans and without them we might have to go back to the states in order to get jobs.  That sounds horrible.  I’d rather stay here. 

We found a place that had internet.  How did they do that?  I decided not to use it yet because Em is doing such a good job at updating people for me.  I don’t want to foster my addiction unless I have to.

Cacophony of Sounds in the Night

30 January, 2011

Unrestful night.  Just as I was drifting off to sleep we would hear gunfire at the end of the street and possibly tanks driving by.  I can’t substantiate those claims as we still have very little access to reliable information.  Much of what we here is panicked conjecture. 

Went out again to try to buy more food.  Going to the stores seems to make everything more “real.”  There are tons of people, the aisles are full, the shelves are low on supplies, everyone is trying to stock up.  Many of the people are Egyptians.  That leads me to believe that we aren’t being dramatic by stocking up and going home.  Roommate’s sister says we’re still good to stay, despite some women saying they heard on the news that the US Embassy was telling Americans to leave.  I called the Embassy number but no one is picking up- I’m sure they’re getting a lot of calls.

It’s only a little past noon and shots are ringing again.  Yesterday they waited until dusk.  Are things getting better or worse?  It’s so hard being in an information blackout.  I wish our tv worked and we got an actual news channel as opposed to Al Jazeera which consists of various people calling in and demonstrating their support for the Egyptian people.  We’ve only heard one account of people in Tahrir- apparently the actual protesters are keeping things calm: praying, holding hands, quelling any raucous  behavior.  There’s also talk that the looters are actually plain clothes police.  Again, can’t substantiate.  Still fine with staying…


Voluntary evacuations taking place tomorrow morning.  I’m tired.

I made tuna noodle casserole and was instantly transported to home.  Some of the simplest and most delicious comfort food.


Took a walk around the neighborhood.  Gunshots are quite subdued compared to last night.  It was really nice to be able to tell the men “shukran” and get to see the extent of the community watch.  Almost every street is blocked and barricaded with groups of men standing near.  It was sweet that the son of one of our neighbors was trying to reassure me that they have everything taken care of.  There is no reason for me to be afraid because,

“they will kill the bad guys.”

I asked, “who will?  You will?”

He said, “Yes yes.”

I said, “Have you killed anyone?!”

He laughs and says, “no no!  I mean us men.” 

I wasn’t even afraid but it was so sweet of him to try to comfort me.

Day 5 of Protests

29 January, 2011

This morning our phones are back on, for the moment.  I hope they stay on long enough for me to call my parents and let them know I’m ok.  No new news this morning so far. 

Parents called at 4:30am their time.  They were so worried.  I feel bad that they have to experience this from afar with little news.  I tried to comfort them as best I could, assured them that nothing is going on in this area.  I’ll tell them the truth later, when it’s over.

Went to get groceries and observe the general goings-on around town.  Discovered that most of the stores were closing early for the 4pm curfew.  We got a few more veggies and chocolate, making jokes about hunkering down during the night.  Then one of the roommates spoke to her sister and the word is that the police have been overtaken in Maadi and the protesters are going to wreak havoc all over the prosperous areas.  Like ours. 

So it’s coming to decision time: pack some things and go wait it out at someone else’s house, or stay here and risk the neighborhood.  Getting nervous about being able to leave the country if things get really bad.  Just nervous about the general demeanor of the city.  The mood seems to have shifted from righteous indignation against the government, to general angst and unrest.  A little more dangerous. 

I don’t want to leave the country.  I’ve had no thoughts of moving home or anything, despite the worry in my parents’ voices.  I know it will come to an end, however, it may take a while.  I live in Cairo.  I’ll stay as long as I can. 


Our neighbors are my heroes.  They’ve set up small blockades at the ends of the small neighborhood streets and are manning them with sticks and clubbing devices.  These are Egyptians prepared to protect their families and belongings.  They’re so brave.  We can still hear gunshots; some volleys have been quite close but they all seem to die away fairly quickly.  The big concern is the looters. 

School has officially been cancelled for this week.  There are discussions of evacuations to Europe tomorrow.  One small carry on is allowed.  What do you take when you have to leave most things?

Flares or something mortar-like are going off near the closest midan.  Rapid fire sounding.  We have tv again but we’re not getting too much information from Al Jazeera.  Going to try to stay up in order to stay informed.  If they storm the area, I vote for barricading the doors. 

Louder gunshots.  Could see the fire from the guns over the neighboring roof.  How close does that make them?  I would look it up but we still have no internet…It’s technically the next day, time to start a new post.

Days of Darkness

28 January, 2011

The internet and sms service has been cut off all over the country.  In an attempt to quell the coming rebellion, the government has supplied the people with more evidence of the totalitarian regime that has run it’s course and is floundering on life support.  Now people are cut off from communicating online and will be forced to meet in public to discuss strategies- it seems the government’s plan may backfire. 

The expats I’ve talked to have discussed the ramifications of life without internet (for the coming weekend anyway) and we are left without a way to contact our families or many of our friends.  We don’t know how to access news or information.  Without the internet, we are lost.  Our dependency on technology becomes glaringly apparent and overwhelmingly frightening.  How do we book plane tickets home if the protests reach an unfathomable crescendo?  How do we call each other if, as rumor has it, all cell service is suspended?  For many of us, it’s a return to the days of our childhood, where people called landlines from other landlines and didn’t have total access to friends and family.  What was that like?  I can barely remember…

Today is rumored to be the biggest day of protest yet.  People have already lost their lives in hopes of changing the 30 year regime of President Mubarak.  As an outsider, I wish them luck.  I also feel I have no place in the protests and am staying out of it as much as I can.  What will the weekend bring?  Will Egypt really conclude with a change in government like neighboring Tunisia?  What about Lebanon?  Yemen?  When we get the internet I’ll check. 

Most of us will wait out the weekend in a technology blackout.  I wish you luck, my Egyptian friends.

Now our cell phones are cut off. Hamdoulillah we have a land line but I don't have anyone to call from it anyway. We've made the best of it so far. Friends hanging out, making brownies, watching movies: it feels like a holiday. I know we'll get tired of it when we actually want to accomplish something but for now it's like a snow day with out the cold. Thank goodness it's a weekend and classes haven't started yet. I don't feel anxious about missing anything. I do wish we had a way to find out what was going on in Tahrir without going there.


Part II

23 hours without internet. At least 16 hours without cell phones.  We took a walk around to see Maadi and if the protests are expanding.  We found out a curfew was put in place from 6pm to 7am tomorrow.  We hurried home and plugged in the tv so we have some way of being informed.   Things appear to be escalating out in Al Qahira... We keep hearing noises that sound like gunfire- far away but distinct. Supposedly the police are firing live rounds at protesters now. There were tanks entering the city a few hours ago.  Definitely hearing gunfire near the house.  People are pretty jazzed up; we saw a police truck on fire on the way home in Maadi.  Rumors are that the government has captured El Baradei in hopes of taking the wind out of the protests.   No official word on the location of Mubarak. 

Tomorrow we’re going to attempt to find international pay phones.  If the news in the US is anything like the news here, our parents must be completely frantic- especially without any word from us.  Insha’allah we’ll be able to get through. 

A little worried about what the morning will reveal…