Monday, February 28, 2011


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At beach resort Stella di Mare in Ain Soukna a stranger took pictures of Lente and his son.
He later came up to us and said he had some amazing pictures of Lente and could email them to us.
Here they are.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Family picture

While being in Dubai for 10 days, waiting to return to Cairo, we went to our favorite mall, The Dubai Mall again. We love it because it is one of the few malls where you can walk outside as well, around this lake, located at the Burj Kalifa, the highest building in the world. Because of very hot weather, life is normally spent inside, at least during daytime, but we had very pleasant weather, windy and about 25 degrees.

A view on Cairo

With friends we wanted to have a drink in the top floor restaurant of the Grand Hyatt hotel; we were told by security that children were not allowed in this club. When we got to the top floor, and asked the waiters for a drink, they repeated that children were not allowed. We still managed to take a few pictures. Really beautiful from up here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Revolution in Egypt

On 24th of January we decided we would stay one more year in Cairo, so till Sept 2012. The next day there were peaceful demonstrations in Cairo. On Wednesday we had a play group and discussed how wonderful it would be if Egypt would experience a true revolution, we even discussed what we as expat spouses could do. On Thursday a friend suggested we might bring food to the prisons near where we live, as it was in the news there was a shortage of food there. It was declined by the prison manager; foreigners should not meddle in Egypts' business. On Friday the internet was off and also the mobile phones: a bit scary as we also could not reach the childrens doctor anymore, and we didn't have any landline numbers of friends, colleagues etc. Baby Lente was sick with fever, luckily I could get hold of a pediatrician in a hospital. Arthur went to a pharmacy that evening to get some medicine. My brother in the Netherlands kept us up to date, and said, while Arthur was out, that a curfew was in place ! When Arthur came home safely he said he had sensed something was wrong; the streets were completely empty and all shops closed. We watched the next few days on tv what was going on. At night we barricaded the doors as we feared thieves. Thousand prisoners had escaped (or set free) and we heard rumours looters in big groups are breaking in in houses.
When mobile phones were working again, I phoned all my friends and mums from the playgroup. The majority would be evacuated shortly.
We decided to stay. Our days were filled with meeting up with our German neighbours who have a 2 yr old, playing in our garden, cleaning up, visiting the pediatrician... It was nice to go out for a change and seeing on every street corner neighbourhood watchers, men with sticks and other weapons, prepared to fill in the gap police had left in their safety role. At nights we heard gunshots but later we found out this was the military shooting warning shots in the air.
Then internet is on again. I catch up on all the news from the past week, all the articles on the demonstrations. Also the play group mums have emailed around, where they are, stuck in hotels in cold cities in Europe, their experiences at Cairo Airport, some of them waiting there 27 hours before getting a flight.
Thursday 3rd of February. I hear gun shots very near by, a military tank is driving through our street. Later I find out foreigners were attacked by police. I call Arthur who was at work, we both decide then it is time to leave Egypt. It is not safe anymore for foreigners.
I reserved a hotel room nearby the airport and booked a flight to Dubai. On the way to the hotel we cross a military checkpoint, a scary moment, as Arthur has to show ID, and the soldier wants to check our bags. I see Arthur getting angry with him, but the soldier doesn't speak any English so conversation is impossible. He lets us go. On the road we see many tanks, but also normal cars, heading home as the curfew is on from 4 PM onwards. The hotel parking is full with cars, but the hotel is empty. We order room service and watch CNN. The next morning we see about 10 guests at breakfast. We take the shuttle bus to the airport, only 15 minutes away. The airport is normal busy, I am so happy that this is not a panic evacuation. Our flight is on time. The company has booked a hotel for us. Dubai  is packed with tourists due to the Shopping festival and we are stuck at a hotel far away. In the hotel room I let the emotions of the last 1,5 weeks run free and cry. How long will we be away from home? That night I cannot sleep, I mentally say goodbye to all our things we left in the house, papers, books, clothes, my diaries. Worst case scenario comes in mind: a fire destroys our house, or thieves take anything they can.
In Dubai we are not alone, 5 other families from Cairo are re-located there. Friends of Femke. So we meet up, and have play dates and drink coffee, it is nice to talk to friends about our experiences.
Arthur starts working again. A hotel room is not practical with 2 kids.
I decide to book an apartment from 11 febr onwards. But not much later Arthur phones me, he has approval from the big boss of the company, we are allowed to return to Cairo. Tickets are booked for Sunday 13th February.
On Friday 11th we see live on CNN that Mubarak is stepping down, we can't believe it, are very happy! The next day we can relax and do some shopping. Arthurs Egyptian boss advises us not to return on Sunday but wait a while. We ignore this advice and Sunday afternoon we arrive on Cairo airport, it is quiet and on the main road we don't see any tanks anymore.
We're home.
It feels good.
And we are proud of the Egyptian people. It is a very special time for them.
I hope somehow I can contribute to the post-revolution time. I know we are already supporting 2 families, the driver and our maid; but time will show what more we can do.