Here’s a link to Part 3 in case you missed it.
My brother heard that the US Embassy is arranging for evacuation flights to American citizens. We called the embassy when we got home and no one was there because it was Sunday? We called the next day and no one answered so I had to push the emergency option which they define by “The death or arrest of an American” nonetheless it was the only way to get a hold of anyone and when we did the answer was brief, just head to Terminal 4 for evacuation assistance. My bother tells us that it’s the VIP terminal locked for VIPs and foreign dignitaries. So shouldn’t be as insane as the other terminal. We wanted to see my sister and my nephews and niece one more time before we left. With curfew restrictions we can’t see them until the next day for a brief few minutes before we head to the airport.
We spend all of Monday with my parents and Tuesday morning my sister arrived and we hung out briefly. We head to the airport with my brother and my brother in law for the second time. We get to terminal 4 as we’re greeted by a “Other side!” from an ex marine like guy. It was generally calmer and less crowded. My brother and my brother in law wanted to stay and wait till we left but at this point things looked promising so I asked them to head home. We stood in line and had to sign an emergency evacuation loan, which surprised me that the American government will be charging us for that. Considering we pay taxes for such services. Anyway, we sign and they put us on a charter flight to Istanbul. Within two hours from being there we board the plane. We stay on the tarmac for another couple of hours till they filled the plane then we were off to Turkey. There was great mix of ethnicities o this all American plane. I guess that’s what makes this country great.
We arrive to Istanbul and we’re directed to purchase an entry visa then on to the American assistance stand. They give some information and then we’re off to KLM’s desk to see if we can change our flights. After a couple of hours in line as the system kept going down we finally managed to adjust our flights to Amsterdam then to Los Angeles. KLM was kind enough not to charge us any extra. Our flight to Amsterdam leaves at 6 AM and it’s almost 9 PM so not enough time to leave the airport and come back at 3 AM to check in. So we decided to get a bite to eat, get some coffee and do some catching up on our Facebook. Lots of emails and a ton of Facebook wall posts from concerned American friends. It was overwhelming touching and humbling to feel all that love.
We then find a comfortable spot in the airport and stretch on a couple of chairs. I completely crashed but my wife had a hard time sleeping, as there were a couple of drunk guys bantering loudly from across the way. We wake up check into our next flight and off we go to Amsterdam. We see some familiar faces from the evacuation flight. The whole journey is very surreal if you factor in the stress and sleep deprivation. After a short layover in Amsterdam we catch our 11 hour flight to Los Angeles. Our friend who house sat for us came to pick us up and it was such a mixed emotion to be back to LA. In one hand it was good to be home on the other I was quite torn to leave the way I did and knowing that my family are still dealing with it all.
Since we’ve gotten back I’ve been calling my family everyday. I can’t tell you how much relief I felt when Mubarak finally stepped down. I was worried that things might escalate to a terrible situation. The revolution accomplished a lot for the Egyptian people. It changed world’s history and regained a sense of belonging back to all Egyptians. We still have ways to go but the snowball is rolling and it’s unstoppable. It’s time to rebuild and cleanup. Egypt is a better country for its people and Egyptians are tasting freedom for the first time in over 5000 years! I’m grateful to have lived to see this day and to have been there when the whole thing started. For the first time I can really mean it when I say, I’m proud to be an Egyptian!