Monday, January 31, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last December we spent 2 weeks in Cairo. We enjoyed our time there, even though (because?) we quit being tourists and just tried to live in the city. Of course we went to Giza, the Egyptian museum and some other key tourists attractions. We've talked since about how we enjoyed our stay and remember the time fondly. But that's about it.

The events of the last week in Egypt have made me realize how travelling has opened my eyes to the greater global community. Hmm, let me unpack that claim. When I read something in the newspaper, whether it be war, genocide, natural disaster, there is an immense disconnect between myself and those being reported on. Only with great difficulty can I muster empathy for the situation.

The protests in Cairo have made me realize that I feel deeply connected to the places we traveled to. It may seem strange that it would take an event like the Cairo protests to wake me up to this fact, but its not as if we spent a long period of time in Cairo, or made local friends, or learned the language. Every interaction we had with an Egyptian involved the exchange of money. Even so, it feels like I am in some way part of the community there. Just saying that makes me feel like a poser. In no way am I saying I am part of the Cairo community, just that it feels that way.

Here's an image of protest spots in Cairo. We lived in Zamalek (the island in the middle of the Nile) just north of the 15 May Bridge. We drove through and walked around the places you can see in the images daily. It's just crazy to think about.

Saturday morning we just sat watching an al-jazeera collection of amateur video from Cairo (scroll down a little). We could recognize the landmarks and districts, and some of the images are just chilling (the third video, for example).

The good news is that with the army stepping in to replace the police, things seem to have gotten better for the protesters. Friday was scary business: the video of crowds of praying Egyptians being sprayed with a water cannon did not boost Mubarak in the opinion polls.

I won't try to replace all the quality news service out there, but if you haven't read up or been following what's happening, I suggest you do. It is truly incredible. It makes me want to travel more so that when things happen, I will have a context for which to understand it.

1 comment:

Tommy Lingbloom said...

I spoke too soon about things getting better...