Witnessing history first hand in Egypt.

I remember it clearly January 25, 2011 as the Egyptian revolution began. I remember being glued to my TV set  and internet watching it all roll out before my eyes. I remember keeping track of it all. I was so happy for the people of Egypt and the fight they were fighting for FREEDOM. A part of me though was sad because I had just changed my plans to begin my trip around the world sooner than I had planned and even though I knew I wasn’t going to arrive in Egypt months from that time I was worried I would not be able to visit because of the revolution. You see I have always had a fascination with this country and it’s history, it’s culture and now it’s revolution. I knew from the start of planning this trip I wanted to spend a month or longer in Egypt. Then as fast as it started it all came to an end on February 11, 2011 the people of Egypt received what they wanted President Hosni Mubarak resigned after almost 30 years in office. Only to find that that wasn’t the end and just the beginning of a long revolution to come. Even though I knew the revolution was still going on I did not let that stop me from visiting Egypt. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and because I changed my plans I was now in Egypt during the one year anniversary of the start of the revolution. At that time I thought witnessing the people of Egypt coming together as one in Tahrir Sq. was maybe the biggest thing in history I would ever be able to witness in person. Lets fast forward to June 16 & 17, 2012 the final round of Egypt’s first free presidential elections and yup I am back in Egypt and was able to witness that first hand as well.

It was a weekend I had been looking forward to since it was announced and a weekend I couldn’t believe I was going to be able to witness for myself in person. I had a million thoughts of how it would play out, but the truth is I wouldn’t have imagined it did the way it did. Aside from the 15 minutes it took for my boyfriend to cast his vote it was like any other weekend in Cairo.

Friday I woke up bright and early to be at Tahrir Sq around noon for the call to prayer. I thought it would be filled with people like I have seen it on past Fridays and this one more than ever since it was the day before the elections. When I arrived though I was welcomed by an empty Tahrir Sq. filled with a small group of people chanting for change. I was meeting up a fellow travel blogger Leif (The Runaway Guide) at the time and after having lunch we decided to enjoy some tea in one of the back streets in Downtown Cairo. I was surprised that life was going on as normal (I don’t know what I was expecting). The heat was still excruciating and in the end we decided to hang out at the hostel they were staying at and have some rum and Coke instead. The day turned into night as we kept drinking our amazingly cheap rum and went to a semi-concert event with DJs from all over the world. I was already buzzing hard core and just exhausted so called it a night early.

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—The small group of people chanting at the Sq. Friday afternoon.—

Saturday I woke up hungover and exhausted. With my boyfriend next to me we both ended up lounging around the apartment not doing much. He was going to go vote, but decided to wait until Sunday. We did go out for some tea and since one of his friends had his dad’s car we drove around Cairo jamming to music. It was yet again just like any other day in Cairo.

Egypt Revolution

—A random street of Cairo as we drove around. Traffic like any other day.—

Sunday we woke up and got a call from a friend of ours if we wanted to go to the mall with him. We said sure why not, we knew he had until 8pm to cast his vote so in reality we had no rush. We ended up spending the day at the mall shopping and then later that day finally headed to the poles. I couldn’t believe it… I couldn’t believe I was going with my boyfriend to cast his vote on the final round of Egypt’s first free presidential elections. We arrived and I saw tons of military officials standing around monitoring everything. Something we are not used to seeing in the U.S. during elections. The queues were not long at all. He went in cast his vote and within 15 minutes he was done. I was surprised it was that fast/easy (again I don’t know what I was expecting). Then we hung out with his brother (who knows me as his American friend) for a while and chatted away about the elections. He told me the same thing I have heard from just about everyone. They are disillusioned that it has come down to this: either vote for someone from the old regime or vote for an extreme religious man. In the end they both voted for the extreme religious man, because with him they at least they have a chance for something new. We then came back to the apartment and watched the news as the results came in.

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—How it looked outside the voting station where he voted.—

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—EEEeeee he voted & here is the ink to prove it.—

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—The TV at our apt. as we watched the results come in late Sunday night early Monday morning.—

As I’m writing this it is late Monday night here in Cairo and even though the results are not official yet it looks like Mohamed Morsi has won the elections. Celebrations have been said to be going on in Tahrir Sq. but they are not the record setting crowds that were there at the start of the revolution. As for the feel of the city it is life as usual. It feels as if nothing has happened. My friends are happy that Ahmen Shafik did not win the elections and even though it’s not the change they wanted they have something new to look forward to. The hope is gone though… they know none of this is what they wanted, but for now will do.

I wrote this post as I would write any other blog post of mine. I wrote what happened, what I saw and what I felt. I mentioned all the small mundane things I did this weekend because that is what happened. It was life as usual in Cairo. I kept mentioning in the post that I don’t know what I was expecting. I felt like nothing was happening the entire weekend. It’s strange to explain the feeling of nothing happening when you think something should be happening and know something important is happening. I don’t know if any of that made since. I mean it was the final round of Egypt’s first free presidential elections. That is history I know it, you know it, the world knows it.

I guess what I am trying to say is we have a perceived image of what something historical should look like because we see the moments on television or on the internet and all we see is the KEY MOMENT. You really never get to see what happened around it and how it felt to be there. Now that I was able to witness a key moment in world history I know that it’s filled with a lot of mundane moments. I don’t want that to make this sound as if I am underwhelmed by this. That is not the case, I am just trying to share with you that witnessing history in person is different than witnessing it through a television or computer.

The truth is words can’t describe how it felt to accompany my boyfriend to cast his vote and for me it’s those 15 minutes of history that I was able to experience first hand. It was those 15 minutes of history that for the rest of my life I will be able to say I was there. I am now able to share that moment with all of you who read this blog, and will be able to share with anyone else. History is made everyday around the world, but rarely do we get to witness it in person & see it for ourselves. I’m so happy I had the privilege to witness it with him.

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  1. This is one of my favorite to posts so far. You transported me to Egypt and I felt like I was part of it all.
    I love how you, your boyfriend, your travels, his voting for first time, US history, Egyptian revolution all sort of culminated & intertwined during those 15 mins, yet it all seemed so ordinary when it could have been soo much more dramatic! You know when I was part of Occupy LA it felt the same way. I was both inspired by those involved yet confused at how mundane life was outside of Occupy. It was insane, felt like the Matrix. I’m glad you were able to be there & share it all with us who only got to see it through the tube 😉 What an extraordinary experience!!!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thank you so much Lucero. I am glad you enjoyed the post alot. It’s crazy to think that a country I have always wanted to visit would be going through so much histroy when I finally do visit it. You are right it all culminated to these very moments. Isn’t that a crazy feeling of how at the center of things so much is happening but then right outside like a few minute walk it’s like nothing is happening in the world. That’s a good way to put it though a MATRIX.

  2. How incredible that you were able to experience this with him and to experience a major part of the country’s history! You’ve done a nice job from the beginning of telling us about what’s going on in Cairo.
    Heather recently posted..Childhood holidays at the beach

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I know Heather it really is incredible that I have been able to experience this and so many other things in this country. I am so happy I can tell you all a side of history that I am seeing as it unfolds. It’s nice to see it from a personal point of view than always the news/media.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jaime. I was really interested to hear about this. It’s awesome that you got to be there for such a historical event, but sad that their choices were less than ideal. I can completely understand why they wouldn’t want to vote for someone who was from the old regime, but I can’t imagine what might happen with the guy who ended up winning. Other countries in that part of the world have ended up with stricter rules and awful situations all around when a super religious person takes over. There’s nothing wrong with the religion itself, but when rulers use it as a way to control people and take things to the extreme, it rarely works out well for the general public. I wish them all the best, and I really do hope that things improve with a new leader. Do they at least have some kind of time limit on how long the guy can stay in office now, or is there a potential for him to stay for decades?
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    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Ali, yeah I still can’t believe that I got to be here for this. Now though it sucks because it looks like these elections will not be taken seriously. They have already postponed the results and it looks like once again no one knows what is going to happen to the country. It’s crazy to be living here and seeing all this happen, because it’s something I could never imagine dealing with at home. I just know it wouldn’t happen. As for them choosing the religious one trust me I agree with everything you said & they know that too, but at this point they have no choice and that is what kills me. They seriously have no other choice. I just hope things settle down for the people of Egypt they have been fighting over 15 months now… that is crazy.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. Waiting for the result of this election is painful. All I can do is hope for the best and that the new Egyptian government makes strides toward the future and doesn’t get lured in to the some of the radicalism that other Middle East Governments engage in. I think most people who have visited Egypt talk about how wonderful the people are to visitors, I hope they get a chance to live more prosperous lives.
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    • Jaime Davila says:

      Erik, yes I agree waiting for the results is painful. I am so happy though they were finally read yesterday & it’s not going to be the old regime that is running the country. I hope the new government gives the people of Egypt the future they deserve. It’s going to be interesting to see how things unfold.

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