2011
01.30

“Yes, we are flying into Cairo”, the Lufthansa (LH) operator assured me on the phone today, “but call back on Monday to be sure”.

This is a tough one.  I have found myself in difficult situations before, but I have not had to make a decision to walk or fly right into one.  I backed off Afghanistan last year because I understood that my being there would put several people into harms way, not only myself.  I also could not afford the $500 per day charge for an armored vehicle, an armed guide and a driver…  It seemed preposterous to go on an architectural mission  under these circumstances.  But some day, I really, really want to document the state of the Bamiyan Valley with the Buddhas the Taliban blew up in 2003.  And I know some day I will – when the time is right. 

But this is different.  Egyptians have been rioting for five straight days; tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands by now.  Centers of the riots are Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez.  There are still hundreds of tourists in Egypt – many of them quite happily floating up the Nile or sun-bathing at the Red Sea resorts.  Foreigners are not a target.  Yes, America now is pulling out their diplomats and is making an extra effort to evacuate those who feel unsafe.  Many people are worried in situations like this, even though the odds for real disaster are small.    When Nicola and I booked a flight to Karachi in Pakistan, we had no problem getting tickets within hours.  Everyone was leaving Karachi.   We were coming…  I would have missed so much if we had turned around.

Yes, LH has canceled some of its flights, but I found out that it was to observe the curfew.  Flights from Europe have continued and LH kept most of its flights going.   I called an agent today to inquire about my options.  No alternative flights are offered.  Curtesy changes provided by the airline extended only through the weekend.   If I rebook, I have to do this at my own expense.  I don’t yet see a need for it.  But I have mapped out three “back doors”.   If  flights continue to go to Cairo, I will assess the situation at my arrival.  If the hotel tells me that things are unsafe, I will book an inland flight and start my trip backwards skipping Cairo for the moment.   If flights to Egypt are canceled across the board, I will rebook to Istanbul and spend two months in Turkey.  And if I get stuck in Frankfurt, I will have have many ideas of what to do.    

As long as LH flies, I will fly.