Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Exactly a Year Ago Today, the BasketCases (and Petey, of course) were in Egypt. We were in the midst of a 12-day Mediterranean cruise, one of those "adventures of a lifetime." Our ship was docked in the port city of Alexandria for two days, which gave us time for an overnight trip to Cairo, three hours away.

Here's what Alexandria looked like then . . .

A peaceful scene. Women and children. Vendors selling refreshments.

Average Egyptians, enjoying a comfortable sunny day along the Mediterranean.

In our brief sojourn in Egypt, we saw for ourselves a land of extraordinary contrasts. All around, some of the most famous and stunning wonders of the Ancient World. It was a trip we will never forget.

But we also saw the signs of abject poverty. People eating fish from a polluted, garbage-and-dead-animal-strewn tributary of the Nile. People living in mud hovels, multiple families sharing a single (unsanitary) hand pump for their water. Meanwhile, we saw the homes of the wealthy, living in opulence in beautiful buildings.

We saw unfinished, abandoned buildings. We saw many idle men, perhaps unemployed.

We saw a country where donkeys shared the road with cars . . .

... and with bicycles, and cattle.

And except on the promenade along the water in Alexandria, we saw very few women.

A year later, the streets of Cairo and Alexandria look far different, packed for the past week with thousands upon thousands of Egyptians demanding a better life for themselves and their families, more freedom, more democracy. We would have found the events of the past week riveting, even if we had never been to Egypt. But having been there, we have found the TV and Internet news reports fascinating in a way that they might not otherwise have been. The Internet, and global television, daily bring foreign lands and foreign strife into our homes. But travel, even a visit as brief as ours, has a way of making us feel connected to events in a way that we can't really describe.

We claim no particular insight as to what the ultimate outcome of all this unrest in Egypt will be. But, personally, we do feel that what is going on right now in an important country in such a volatile area of the world is both fascinating and hopeful . . . as well as frightening. And so we'll continue to tune in, whenever we can, to the TV or the Internet. But for a change, we won't be following basketball.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases


At 10:08 PM, Blogger vmaione said...

Thanks for this post and the great photos.

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

agreed. You are consummate bloggers in my opinion, and it is nice to see your range expand. I always enjoy reading your posts.


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