Well, we picked one hell of a day to arrive in Cairo.
The last 24 hours have been a roller coaster ride. We scrambled to get packed and out of our apartment on time for our flight, and would never have made it without the help of a few amazing friends who went way beyond the call. I felt relaxed for the first time in weeks as I sipped prosecco and watched the clouds outside the plane window.
Alas, that bliss was short-lived. After a layover in Zurich, we arrived in Cairo with two tired boys and two traumatized cats and heard even before we had disembarked that angry mobs had set fires throughout the city in retaliation for the violent dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood protests. The man sitting behind me on the plane said a friend of his had booked him into an airport hotel because it was pointless to even try to get out of the airport -- the unrest was just too widespread.
I called Marco, our driver, who would turn out to be more of a savior, and he said that downtown was a mess but the roads between Maadi and the airport were fine and he was there and waiting for us. We sailed through immigration and customs -- our cats could have been foaming-at-the-mouth rabid for all anyone cared -- and found Marco. A lifelong resident of Maadi, it quickly became clear that he is going to be my go-to guy on everything from where to buy a mattress to how to get my garbage removed every day.
Safely in the van and on our way to meet the owner of the villa, O started reading the news reports of the dispersal of the demonstrations -- I was still without any kind of internet access -- when I heard him gasp. A British journalist had been shot and killed. Mick Deane. Mick had been O's cameraman at ITN when we lived in Hong Kong. They, along with correspondent Mark Austin, had traveled all over Southeast Asia together. Mick was a lovely, sweet man. We hadn't even realized he was in Cairo.
Needless to say, the blissful haze of the plane ride out of New York had fully dissipated by now. There is more to the evening -- I am writing this from a random hotel while Cairo is under curfew because we couldn't get to our intended destination -- but my battery is dying and I am fading. More tomorrow.
El-Faizy blogs about life in Cairo with two young sons at www.childrenofthepharaohs.com