A week ago we left Cairo, and we returned this morning, Saturday, January 12th.
Friends have asked about our departure, but it was so unremarkable I didn’t think to write about it. We got up, the car arrived, we set off, passing quiet checkpoints of tanks to reach the airport. The plane was only a third full. An uneventful flight brought us to London, where kind friends gave us refuge and allowed my daughter and me to be reunited with Antony.
I don’t think I was aware of how much stress we had been under in revolutionary Cairo. However, once we were in the UK, safe and secure with our essential papers with us, the adrenaline that had been fueling my system disappeared. The mother of all colds set in. In between sneezes, I worked remotely, escaping one evening to see Woody Sez, a bio-play of Woody Guthrie’s life. If you are in London, don’t miss it. The music is excellent and it related nicely to the revolutionary zeal we are feeling.
On Thursday, we confirmed our plans to return to Egypt, leaving late on Friday and arriving on Saturday. The flight schedules have been rearranged to coordinate with the curfew times. Briefly the rumor that Mubarak was stepping down gave us hope that we would arrive in a celebration, but his awful, unyielding speech on Thursday night instead brought some concern. Nevertheless we decided to stick with our plans.
Friday afternoon’s amazing reports of his departure brought incredible joy. The airplane was as empty as the one the week before, and surprisingly there was little emotion from the other passengers. Everyone seemed quite contained — apprehensive perhaps about what a new Egypt would bring.
Everyone we have spoken with, now that we’re back in Cairo, has expressed their elation at the prospect of a Free Egypt. This is a revolution of hope, possibility and pride. The idea of protesters cleaning up after themselves signals the new sense of ownership of Egyptians’ political destiny.
Tomorrow my office will all wear red, black and white in celebration. The next few weeks and months will have difficulties, no doubt, but the sense of today is that all seems possible. I hope people around the world will do what they can to support these remarkable people and this country.
I am proud to be witnessing a nation finding its voice for peaceful change.