Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh the places we go

okay my adventures in egypt are winding up sadly. so i think its safe to start spilling the beans about some of my experiances. For one I really excited to now count a, muslim, and a Coptic christin, and a couple of mohammeds as very good friends. I've ridden a camel, seen the pyrimads and can now also tick being in a revolution off my bucket list. I dont know how many of you know what has been going on in Egypt regarding the revolution and rioting etc. But for those of you who dont know, ther has been a revolution, and the presidents been kicked out of office,blah blah, blah. Well the place of all the protests, and most of the images broadcasted world wide is Tahir Square, this is where the protesters still are, where the riots were etc, and where everything goes down. I have now been there twice.... The goverment warns against going here, in all travel advice...with good reason, there's been people shot, ran over,beaten and killed in the protests. Some risks are stupid, and some are calculated. I took a risk going t, but both times i was there i never felt in danger. The first time was at night, and to be honest, Tahir square looked just like any rounabout in the world with a few homeless people camped in the middle. Everyone there we talked to, only ever greeted us with a 'welcome to egypt' adn 'where are you from?' Today however is friday and things were a little differant. Friday is a day off in Egypt, so genreally this is when all the protests go down...and go down they did, hundreds of thousands in the street, megaphones, flags, mraches, it was all on. I didnt really intend to get in the middle of it,we were just en route to the Museum, which took us through tahir square. after asking if it was safe, we got a lcal man to take us through the barricade, which took a twenty pound bribe and a glimpse at our pass ports to make sure we wernt foreign spys, and we were in the middle of the protest area.. It was an odd experiance to say the least, we got there at midday preyers, and so thousasnds of people were on the streets, prostrating to allah, while the prayers blasted across the cities megaphone system, all was actually really quiet, protest flags hanging in the breeze, megaphones blasting, but there in the centre all was qute still and everyone prayed. Then a switch was flicked, prayer time finished, flags started waving, and the whole tension of the area picked up immediantly. You could feel it in the air. Every boday started pouring into the centre of the square, and chanting there differant slogans. To be honest it was really exciting feeling, like something could happen at any second, and there you were in the middle of it. It is easy to see how riots start in this sort of enviroment, you just join in with the excitment of the crowd... There were film crews in the middle, burka clad women taking home video on there cellphone, men with camera taking snapshots and children climbing trees, everybody jsut seemd to want to be there and in on the action, waiting for something to happen. Suddenly it was time to leave, our guide clearly didnt want the reponsibilty of four westerners getting killed in the protests, with marches puring in from all over,and started to hurry us out, although he kept assuring us it was safe.... to cut a long story short, after hiding out in a perfum shop, as more and more protesters marched towards the square, we headed to the museum. By now the tension had really picked up, we even heard shots fired in the air... but again the feeling you got was more excitment and curositry from all the people around you, everyone waiting to see what could possibly happen. So we wandered around the museum abit, still hearing the megaphones blasting outside..but all felt safe, and theere were other tourists around, people taking in the sights of the museum with us, so we never felt in any danger.. until we all got locked in the museum... for fear rioters were about to break down doors and ransack the place...them we all sat there for a bit listening to the booming from outdoors.. It one of those moments in life that you kind just go 'really this is happening?' I'm locked in one of the most famous museums in the world, with king tutenkahmens tomb, 5000 year old artifacts, and billions worth of Egyptology, for my own safety, with a cultural and political revolution happening just across the street, with gunfire heard once or twice, and a completly burnt out building for last riots just out window, yet we all wandered around and made jokes like it was the most natural thing in the world I know some people will think I'm irresponsible and stupid for getiting myself in this situation, but being on the ground experiencing it is very differant. I got out alive, nothing dramatic happened, no one died and as we left the protest and energy of the people was already waning. It was a risk being there, but how many people can say they been in a riot and a museum in one day. As we walked out of the museum, people would still come up and ask where we were from, how did we like egypt, and the people with better English asked our opinions of the revolution and explained there opinions, media would have you believe it was an angry mob ready to burn and beat you, and it well could go that way, but rally what I found was a whole bunch of people excited and wanting change, and looking to the future. It was an amazing experiance, and I'm glad I had it