The views on the protests I have expressed thus far have been positive. Parents and friends wondered why I was refusing to leave Egypt. I told them that I felt I had to be here for this historic moment, and that my understanding of conflicts, governments, and international relations grew by the minute. That said, after yesterday's experience, I fear that like a sneaker wave upon a shore, the open window of observation will soon be shut.
Since the violence on Wednesday, the attitude towards foreigners has changed dramatically. Before we were greeted with amusement and gratitude. Now, it is hard to walk more than half a block without being stopped by army checkpoints or gangs of young men. Foreigners are now met with suspicion. Cameras used to be embraced, Egyptians asked to have their pictures taken with signs written in both Arabic and English. Now, any camera equipment inspires accusations of journalist. Moving around the city has become difficult, especially downtown. Tuesday evening, on my way home in a cab, all I had to do was make eye contact with any civilian or soldier running the checkpoints. Seeing I was a young, American girl they would just wave our car through. Now, barely 48 hours later, when they spot me in a cab, the car is pulled over, searched thoroughly and my passport is checked. How quickly things change.
My expat friends and I had loyally decided to wait out the revolution and return to our daily lives here in Cairo once the dust settled. We realized last night in somber tones however, that it was time to leave. In melancholy glances, we saw mirror images of unspoken thoughts. What troubles us most is that there is no way to know whether or not we will be able to come back. It is hard to walk away from a situation in which we were so emotionally involved, not knowing if we will all be back in two weeks or if this is in fact goodbye.