Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cairo in Crisis....the airport....

Tuesday 1st Feb

I managed to finally call out from my phone
(i had run out of credit and only been able to receive incoming calls).
I called my Director and told her i was leaving,
but would be back soon.
She was understanding,
and i felt assured that i would not be left jobless.

A friend from church offered his driver to take me to the airport,
i was very grateful. So i went to see off a couple of other friends from church
who probably wont be coming back and hopped into the car to the airport.

We had left with ample time to spare before the flight,
thinking that the roads might be busy in the direction of the airport,
funnily enough the roads were fairly empty.
Tanks were stationed about every mile or so along the road, and they seemed to be only stopping to check Egyptian micro-buses.
Just as we got in view of the terminal the traffic ground to a halt.
I got out and walked the last 5mins to my terminal.

On entering the terminal i noticed the chaos straight away.
People standing around everywhere desperate to get on their flights,
very few staff.

The 'queue' (more accurately described as a mass of people than an orderly form)
to get through the initial security searches wasnt moving. I stood for a moment wondering what to do, then i saw a woman pushing her way right to the front of the bunch.
When she came past me i followed her along,
she walked right up to the security gate and went right through.
Nobody said anything, at the front of the line they were all standing around
like lemmings not doing anything, i asked them what they were waiting for,
nobody seemed to know so i walked right through as well.

On the other side of the security was even more chaos.
The flight boards had been turned off,
if you wanted to get a boarding card or find out where your gate was for your flight
you had to do it by being in the right place at the right time to find the correct information.

I started talking to people,
making friends with those who i discovered were on the same flight as me.
We began sharing information that we would discover with each other,
the tid-bits that we had found out.

I went up to a member of airport staff at one point and asked him when my flight would be leaving, he looked at my ticket and said
'if a plane comes we'll put you on it, there are no times,
just listen out for someone shouting your destination'.

The whole experience of actually getting onto the plane
reminded me of the scene in World of the Worlds where
Tom Cruise is trying to get on the ferry....
you know the one i mean?

People were going crazy,
one guy started throwing someone else's baby around,
there was no security to stop him.
The gate kept changing,
if things got too hostile at the gate we were standing they told us to go to another gate,
mainly to get rid of us.

Eventually i got on a plane,
we sat on the tarmac for 4 hours whilst they filled
the flight up with stragglers from the airport
who had managed to buy their way onto our destination.

I made my connecting flight
and am currently typing away from my destination in Italy.

I didnt speak to anyone on my flight who hadnt been at the airport for less than 24hours,
some of them looked at my suspiciously
when they discovered i had just arrived at the airport....
as though what right did i have to get on a flight when they had been there for days?

I think that i can thank my 'easy' exit to the prayers of family
and friends who had been asking the Lord for my safety.

I look forward to returning to Cairo soon,
I pray for those who are still there,
I pray for the freedom of expression.

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