Friday, February 11, 2011

Celebration in Egypt!

Congratulations go out to the people of Egypt for their persistence and dedication to democracy over the last few weeks. Hosni Mubarak has stepped down and left office.

Their collective spirit has been there for a while. In late 2008, I visited Alexandria right after Barack Obama was elected president. The Egyptian people were crazy about him. As soon as they found out I was American (and not British which was their first guess), they would smile and greet me with "Obama!" This happened more than once and was always celebratory. During this same trip, while wandering through a shopping mall, I came across a book on Barack Obama's life. It was written in basic English and included a hand-drawn picture that showed with an arrow how Barack was born next to a vacant lot. He was a ordinary man (with an Arabic name) who was able to win the honest vote of his people, particularly meaningful after all of the hanging chads and years of corruption related to George W. Bush.

Maybe, in addition to Tunisia's success, Barack Obama was one of the many things that touched the Egyptian heart and gave them confidence that a people's voice can be heard, even in an oppressive dictatorial state like their own. Their spirit, with an assertive attitude, toppled a corrupt government without bloodshed, without assassination, and without intrigue in just under three weeks through peaceful demonstration. What an amazing thing to have witnessed in the course of history.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


At long last, my sister, nieces, and the famous little Chonsy were able to board an Italian airline. I realized at that time just how exhausted I really was. But the drama wasn't over yet; they sat on the runway for another two hours before they were finally able to take off.

Text message (Sunday, 10:33am ET): hi Leslie! Hows it going? I can only send one text, im going to write alot. We are stuck on the airplane and have been for 2 hours. IT STINKS! Im so bored the crew just said we are going to move now. YAY! Gtg, to turn off phone. Bye! Lots of love! Maya

They stayed in good humor, I am sure, and upbeat as evidenced by a text received earlier that day:

Text message (Sunday, 5:43am ET):
Hi its asia.
Do you like pizza
I do
I also like pie
Dont you!!
I like
Yummy yummy sugar

I guess there wasn't a lot to do in the airport and the snack bar helped.

Without SMS, I would have been frantic but without Facebook I would have been alone. In addition to, uh, I don't know, help start a revolution, FB kept me in touch with a huge number of people over the last four days. Marek determined which flight my sister was on and tracked the plane once it was in the air. Jeanne was available, supportive, and on top of the latest news through her many connections in Egypt. We were able to read about the neighborhood patrols but she had specific details, confirmed markets were stocked with food (in case they decided to turn around), and was pro-active in sending out information about Embassy evacuations (in case that became the only option). Even without consistent contact, I felt informed and comfortable Andi and the kids were okay.

Leslie yes! I will feel so much better when they are actually in the air.
Sunday at 6:45am

Jason They'll make it. Hang tight.
Sunday at 6:52am

Wendy Keep us posted. Hang in there.
Sunday at 10:42am ·

Christine Thanks for the update. I'm really sorry to hear that they didn't fly today. :-(
Sunday at 12:27pm ·

Tony Hi Leslie. I've been keeping up the last couple of days. Andi, Maya and Asia are in my thoughts and prayers. I'm looking forward to your post that says they are in the air :-)
Sunday at 2:24pm

Jeanne Check your inbox, I just sent info. Might be good to get the ball rolling.

Roger Wonderful News!!!! Keep us up to date.
22 hours ago

Ilene Glad to hear they are making it out safely!
22 hours ago

Theodore so great to hear
21 hours ago

Wendy Wow, I guess it takes a Revolution to get Tony to post. :-P *Hi Tony!*
8 hours ago

Sonia did they make it?
3 minutes ago

Leslie yes in Turin this morning!!! and shopping because while they made it, their bags did not.
about a minute ago
And now, happily, we are back to chat, our normal means of long-distance communication:

Andi: Have landed in Turin! We're with rick. Chonsy excited
me: yay!
me: how did you manage to let chonsy use the potty throughout??
Andi: Now is maya
me: hi maya
Andi: Hi
me: bet that was a long trip!
Andi: Chonsy didn't pee for like 16 hours
me: poor little puppy
Andi: Yeah
me: was he scared?
Andi: Only on the plane when we took off
Happy when we landed
me: its so loud, that's probably why
Andi: Yeah
Sent at 7:11 AM on Tuesday

It's all about what's really important when you come down to the basics.