Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Crisis in Egypt, a different perspective

I have watched with shock over the past few days as a country I visited less than 4 months ago has descended into Chaos. You have all watched the news, heard about the protests, saw pictures online. There are many scenes of chaos and bloodshed, riots and violence. The Picture above struck such a cord with me that I have been looking at it throughout the night trying to put into words exactly what my thoughts and feelings are. This is a soldier, standing guard at the Museum of Antiquities in Downtown Cairo, to prevent and further looting of the priceless treasures contained within. I was there twice on my trip this fall. To the right of the soldier, out of frame of the picture, is the Main entrance, and a bit further down a 2 story walk up staircase that leads to a little cafe where Sasha, Joann, Sam and I spent about 45 minutes talking with our tour Guide Mohamed. It was a candid conversation where Mohamed expressed dismay over Police corruption, Government Corruption and the over hyping of Zahee Hawass.
Cameras are not allowed on the Museum grounds, so these shots taken from the bus are all that I have besides memories of that statuary garden out front of this Amazing pace. It sickens me that in the news reports I read, before the army got there, 2 mummies in the extensive collection were damaged by looters. It is a crime against all of humanity when these priceless items are destroyed.

As happens all to often in this era of 24 hour news stations pandering for ratings the real story if getting lost; This is about the People.
Why is it that the only thing we ever see about the Middle East on CNN, NBC and the like is this hatred and violence? If you were to watch the news you would think that all the people of the Middle East do is protest, throw stones and hold up signs. This is such a simplistic view of the area that we should all feel insulted, it is so much more than that. YES there is rampant corruption of both the Government and the Police. YES the people have legitimate reasons to want the ouster of "President Mubarak". Hell, if I was there I would probably join in the marches. This is not about Hatred of the United States or protesting a war. This is about legitimate concerns of the people against a ruler that has ruled this country like a Mafia Godfather and where Justice is only available if you can pay for it they have every right to protest and I hope the "President" is kicked out very soon.

You have all seen the violent protests on TV, so I will not be showing any more of that. Instead I want to show you the Egyptian people in their everyday lives, which are not that different from you or I. They smoke too many cigarettes, talk constantly on their cell phones, eat junk food, go to school, go to work, Watch CSI, go shopping for fun, go to bars and nightclubs and just love a good argument. They all work too hard for the money they get paid, want their Children to have a better life then they do, and did I mention smoke constantly? There are many places in Egypt that if it was not for the different Language would be indistinguishable from malls in America or restaurants in Europe. Beaches that look like Hawaii, and Airports that are as frustrating as LAX. The only real difference between the people in Egypt and most of the Western world is that they have never before been free to express their doubts and anger at the Government
Please, over the next few days say a prayer along with me for the people of Egypt. Pray for an end to the violence, Pray for Mubarak to step down, and pray for a peaceful transition to a new government. These people have the same hopes and dreams you do and Yes, they deserve a better life.

My first moment on Egyptian soil. The guy with the cell phone was named Mohammad and was my seat partner during the 12 hour flight.
Ok, What can I say, My first Super Cute Egyptian guy.

A son working with his father.

One of the tourist Police. Took $5 for him to let us climb on this temple.
My own personal security guard........after I bribed him. Still got Sasha and I into alot of places we would not have otherwise.........

Working on a dig sight near Giza

Kids working their way through school. (Just look at that smile! The Kids cleaned up on tips from our group I tell you!)

Not such a different scene from every Day in Dutch Harbor.

Waiters going that "extra Mile" for a good tip............and he had a crush on Sacha

Ok already, Yes, the Cameraman was super cute!

Boat Trip!
Our Wonderful tour guide.
The Egyptians are the masters of selling you stuff!

Though even birds beg for this case Pringles.

Airports, the preetier they are the less functional they are.
MORE SHOPPING! This market is Egypt's version of Wal-Mart.

Just hanging out in the park.
Yup, Teens even work the McDonald's in Egypt!

Mohammed my special towel boy friend..........
And the other Mohammed, our tour guide.

Kids playing in the street at night..........

And dancing the night away at a Bar!

Our wait staff was really great, even if the food was not.

I can never escape fishing, where ever I go!
Heck, The Egyptians even have Mountain Dew!

Sell, sell, sell, this time Alabaster.

The Ship's Captain! (Another thing I can never escape!)

Ok, So I miss My cutie towel boy. Leave me alone!

Selling at a cafe 1/2 way accross the Desert to the Red Sea

A picture of the hated man himself above in a town park. Egomanic! he lives in palaces all over the country while many people live like the following pictures............

Making Bread on the dirty side Health Code here!

Talking on the Phone and driving while being distracted by a friend. Gosh, this could be LA!

The Heroic Boat Captain who helped Sasha when she got panicked when Snorkeling.

A whirling Dirvish.........

More markets
These are some of the people of Egypt, not too different from you or me.

Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.


scarlett said...

I have also eeen watching this unfold for a week now...and,,have been wondering HOW the US was going to handle any involvement...because Egypt is such an important ally to us..I was worried we would just back the present government..but...I was happy to hear, last night, that Washington has asked that there be a vice president "represent" the people....It remains to be seen if that is just a figurehead position or not..

People there have a valid argument and, I am happy, in a way, that they are just not gonna take it anymore...


Anonymous said...

you have to wonder if Iran is better now without the Shah, is Iraq better without Sadaam? Almost all the Christians have fled to the country. If the Egyptians are no different from us going to the mall and McDonalds how bad can they really have it? You know without guessing who will take control without a despot. Prepare to have your throat slit if you commit adultery or are gay. Show me any viable alternative to that form in the entire region. They have to control their people or there is no peace or freedom or McDonalds.

Nebraska Outback said...

Thank you for your pictures and your memories. I thought of the wonderful tales you told about your visit while I was watching the news coverage. What a tragedy it all is - not that an evil man is being overthrown, but the incredible violence and destruction that such a change necessitates. Unfortunately, politics being what they are, it is largly US support that has kept this tyrant in power - also seemingly a necessity... It's all very sad and incomprehensible.

mamawas said...

We pray for peace in Egypt and
wisdom for political powers. Consequences of destruction are generational in this sad scenerio.

The essence of knowledge is, having it,
to use it.
- Confucius


Margrita said...

CB reading your blog brought to mind an old Jimi Hendrix quote, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

It is a shame that historical place, museums, artifacts are often lost to looters, destruction, and violence. All we can do is hope and pray that the crisis in Egypt will soon end.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures, they brought back many fond memories of Egypt. It is interesting how often no matter the country how often the people are alike.

Wishing you an awesome week.

Kimi said...

It's a crime against humanity like you said, for these priceless artifacts to be destroyed, without thought to preserving their heritage. They are just bent on destruction. Peaceful protests, sit ins, and boycotts work very well. I hope this nation gets the change they need. When the Government and its officials are corrupt, change is necessary. Hopefully they will find people to run the country that do not continue along this path.

Thanks for the photo journey through Egypt again. I needed it. Just shy of 5 feet of snow on the ground, felt like I was under the beautiful Egyptian sun, swimming in that gorgeous water.

Ang said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip last fall. I've been following the Egypt crisis but I watch mostly the surrounding countries news reports to hear what they are feeling and thinking (in my case Israel). Thanks for sharing your pictures from your trip.

purrduedvm said...

Thanks for sharing your photos and insights into this country. Egypt has always fascinated me. I've dreamed of (but also FEARED) going there someday. I think you are right - we need to pray for them. Like those in Iran who have no voice or freedom. Or in North Korea. These people are treated so poorly. We all have it so good. And yes, the media never helps with what it portrays. When you actually meet people face to face and talk to them, that's when you realize you have more in common than is different. Well, save for the wackos who just want to kill you for being American. That's another group all-together.

Corey said...

I love your prospective on this...I wish this was posted in papers around the world. Another wonderful post CB!

Anonymous said...

This IS posted in papers around the world. The protesters are young, old, male, female, rich, poor, educated, illiterate, christian, muslim, etc. Regular people, like the people in the pictures.

Kimi said...

All non essential Americans visiting, or in Egypt are ordered out of Egypt as per the State Department.

I am mixed on the US going in to help quell the riots. If the US government goes in to police this, we look bad. If we don't go in to police this, we look bad. We are in a no win situation with this. This is something the Egyptian people have to deal with for themselves. The US is overspending with little to no compensation for going into Iraq and Afghanistan, to help defeat terrorism in these countries. We're in other countries trying to help other nations as well. I think it's time for us as a nation to say enough is enough, and pull our forces back. We cannot be the policemen of the world. Maybe when we start letting other nations deal with these messes, they'll stop complaining about the US when we go in as a police force and step up to the plate themselves.

I support our soldiers, I do not support the war. I have watched news reports for years, with a very open mind. We do not see the whole story, we see what the media wants us to see. I just hope the people of Egypt restore peace and order soon. Hopefully with a true Democratic government in place.

terrig said...

CB, I thought about you when watching this unfold even though I only "know" you through your blog. I loved seeing your pictures, videos and hearing about your wonderful trip last year to a place I've always dreamed of going. I wonder in the end will the treasures of Egypt survive or will they end up like the statues in Afghanistan that were destroyed? I guess now I am glad that as a kid I went to see "The Treasures of King Tut" at the Field Museum in Chicago even though at the time (I think I was 8 it seemed BORING).
As one who has sent her husband off on eight deployments of varying lengths (6 to 16 months) since 2003 and having had to deal with those who don't support war but say they support the troops trampling on my lawn in Hawaii telling me that it is a shame that those in the military are going off destroying & killing everyone & everything in their wake and taking from the US treasury, I for one do not want to see the US military go there. I am not sure it would be worthwhile and more blood and treasure will be spent.
At the same time who or what will replace what is there now? That remains to be seen. I am sorry for being political which I try not to do.
You are so lucky to have seen what you saw this summer and I envy your trip. Thank you again for posting these pictures and your memories and allowing us to again live vicariously through you to see this beautiful land. Have a wonderful Super Bowl Sunday!

Lori said...

WOW! What a great post CB! We only see one side and thank you for reminding us of your terrific vacation. Every time I watch the news, I think about you and the trip you just took - they say the tourism industry is hurting very bad because of's all a shame!

Lori said...

AND ..........can't leave it at 13 - ugh - that would be my bad luck today for the SuperBowl! Go Packers!

CaliGirl9 said...

Thanks for the reminder that there are people behind what's going on in Egypt. Best they fight for their own democracy, or whatever it is they want there. I can't see how the U.S. could justify going in, unless it's to "save" the treasures of Egypt, and even then, it's really up to the people of Egypt to save them.

I lean conservative, and I always support our troops, but as I get older, I'm finding myself less supportive of sending our men and women into a place where there is no defined "this is what we are doing there, this is the definition of 'winning,' and this is when we are outta there."

It looks like a beautiful place, beautiful people worth fighting for, though. I hope they prevail in their fight for freedom.

Ranee said...

I am praying that everything will go alright in Egypt. I think they are in for a long haul. Lets keep them in our prayers.

Kimi said...

supposedly he has stepped down. So now we watch to see if he really does, and how the country and military goes about changing over to a democracy.

Anonymous said...

cant wait to see you when you come home ruth

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