|View from our hotel (taken by Shelly)|
We stayed at Ismailia House Hotel, alongside some interesting folks. I can still vividly picture us eating our "continental breakfast" of hard-boiled egg, sweet pancakes, and tea in the common room. A young German man sat on the couches opposite me. He didn't speak English, and things were a bit awkward. All of us were trying hard not to stare with wide eyes at the tattoo of a swastika on his neck.
To get to the entrance of the hotel, we walked down an alley and either climbed a few stairs or got into a tiny elevator with a young boy. He would manually latch the elevator gates behind us and take us up to the hotel as long as we had a little "backshish" as a tip.
Although there were traffic lights in the square, not a single car obeyed them, so crossing the street was a bit like playing Frogger. With the guidance of our trip leader who had been to Cairo many times, we would start walking across the street and have faith that the cars would dodge us. If you hesitated at all, you would get a hasty beeping-at. It was up to the cars to dodge you. Needless to say, most cars had a healthy amount of dings. From the hostel, we could hear a near-constant serenade of beeps day and night.
We woke up in the wee hours the last morning of our stay to take a bus to Siwa. We could hear the early-morning prayers at nearby mosques and spotted a few street vendors readying their goods in the alley below. One of them with a wooden crate full of flat bread.
It's hard to know the details of what's going on since the government has cut off all internet and mobile phone service. Egypt is in my thoughts and I'm hoping the damage is not too extensive. Although, photos like this one of Tahrir Square are not all that reassuring.