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Monday 6th of February 2011

I am so excited! I am finally going to see my family. I have been thinking of every possible way to get to them ever since my friend was evacuated. The railway lines have stopped working and the roads out of Cairo had been closed too. The airport is over crowded with people trying to leave the country and there’s a strong possibility that their aren’t any flights.

I had done most of my packing last night but there are still a few items that I need to put in the put in the bag, but I have to wait for Meeza to wake up.

I am feeling very torn. I have formed a close bond with my host, (No….that’s not right), my surrogate family and I don’t want to leave them. I have enjoyed my time here with them, gotten to know them more and feel like I’m apart of the family. I dread to think what state I would be in, if I hadn’t come to stay with them and decided to tough it out on my own. Without their company, I’m sure I would have reached some level of insanity. Becs family will always have a special place in my heart for opening their home to me.

Bec’s Mum insists that I share breakfast with her. I’m not really hungry and I have been working exceptionally hard at reaching a target weight for my sister’s wedding in April, (Operation Megan Fox). I know it’s a silly thing to be worrying about in times like these, but God willing if all goes well, her wedding will proceed as scheduled and I won’t hate myself for not looking my best and being fit for the special occasion. So, I am adamant that I am going to remain focused on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, grilled meats and drink an excessive amount of water, Revolution or not! (would this make me stubborn or very determined?)

At around 11am my father arrives, I am so glad to see him. I waste no time in embracing him at the door and kissing his cheeks. I notice that he looks tired but a wave of relief washes over his face when he sees me. My father and I don’t see eye to ey very often and with us being stubborn and control freaks, we often but heads and clash, but with that put a side, he is my Dad, I love him to pieces and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see him.

My Dad comes in to the house for no longer than twenty minutes. We can’t delay our departure due to heavy traffic caused by blocked off roads and protests. We also have to be back in Alexandria before curfew time. My Dad thanks Bec’s parents and as a small gesture of my families appreciation and gratitude for all they have done for me he gives them a bottle of Whiskey and a big box of sweet dates. I in turn hug both Bec’s parents and thank them and promise to come and see them as soon as I am back and settled again.

As soon as we are in the car we have to make a stop at my house to pay the landlord the rent and so that I can drop some unwanted items and collect more clothes (who knows how long the current situation is going to last).

As we approach my street, which is a big military area, I notice a crowd of twenty or more people near the Military Hotel, Triumph. I wonder what they are all doing sitting around staring at the Military compound’s huge metal gates. My father must have caught my gaze or read my mind and informs me that the people are waiting to see their loved ones that had been recaptured by neighborhood watch and military me as they were trying to loot the nearby areas. Upon hearing this slightly disturbing piece of information, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that I had followed my instincts and made the decision to go and stay with Bec’s and his family. The thought of having the escapees that have been causing fear and havoc in the city held across the street from my building, was not in the least bit comforting.

As soon as the car came to a halt, I waste no time in going in to my building and up to my apartment to leave an un-needed bag and gather some other belongings. I am whirling around the place like the Tazmanian Devil from the famous Warner Brother’s Cartoons. I am trying to be as quick as possible so that the echos of the last night spent in the apartment don’t come back to me. The feeling of being in my flat is an odd one. It is familiar and yet alien at the same time. ‘I hope to see you again soon’ I say to it before I close the door and lock it before taking the elevator back down to rejoin my father and the hired driver to head back to Alexandria.

During the drive out of the city my father ask me questions about the safety situation in Heliopolis, the sight of the barbed wires across the street and the tanks pointing outwards to wards the road. He tells me of events and situations that have taken place in Alexandria. That with in the first two days after the prisoners escaped from prison, the people guarding our street caught fourteen ‘baltageya’ (thugs/looters). He told me that other areas of Alexandria are experiencing much worse and that I know for a fact. My friend Shamel has been calling me daily telling me about his nightly watch and the amount of firing and killing that had been going on. Although I am living it, hearing it and experiencing it, my mind still has a difficult time accepting and believing that this is happening to us here in Egypt. It just boggles my mind! How did things spiral out of control so quickly? What lies ahead for all of us? Is it going to get worse? Will things ever get better? It is hard to tell…

At the Cairo toll gate leading to the desert road armored vehicles stand guard with their guns pointed at the center of the road. By the wayside, stolen, crashed and torched cars had been confiscated ownerless as you pass by the toll gate. For the past week we have been hearing horror stories of people’s cars being run off the road, cars being hijacked, robberies, rapes and killings along the desert road. On all the occasions I have driven back and forth on this road, I have never been so alert and watchful of every movement, car and person.

To stop at a rest house to use the toilet, gas up or buy something to eat is too risky and dangerous. Some of the escaped convicts are still on the loose and nobody wants to take any chances. The busy rest stops are empty, which is a strange sight because they are usually bursting at the seams with business, but now only the gas stations have clients. My father told me that he had stopped at one of the gas stations on the way and when he entered to building the owner was sat with a machine gun and bullets across his chest, the smell of freshly baked fiteer was absent in the air and the bustling of the waiters bringing the customers no longer existed.

We finally reach Alexandria after a two and a half hour drive, the security at the toll gate is more intense that the Cairo toll gate. There are more cars and the traffic is worse. Getting to the city is difficult, there is a hold up of some kind. We find out that the congestion is caused by a bus accident and large puddles of water.

As we pass by Carrefour City Center (a big shopping complex) there dozens of confiscated stolen cars parked on the side as you pass the shopping area. There are huge tanks and armoured vehicles positioned there too.

After two weeks of wanting to be with my family and a two and a half hour drive, I am finally home. I take my bags out of the car, get in to the elevator and press the button. The ride up seems to take longer than usual. “Hurry up!! I want to hug my Mum and sister!” As I finally reach my floor, I can see my mother’s silhouette through the glass with her arms spread wide ready to embrace me as I step out. I yank out the bags and drop them at her feet and just squeeze her tightly, while breathing in her motherly scent. There is nothing as warm or comforting as a mother’s embrace.

As I walk over the threshold of the apartment, my sister comes to greet me in the foyer of the apartment and we hug.  It is so good to be home and with family. They look well but tired from all the stress and constant worrying about their safety, the state of the country and me. At least now, they have one less thing to worry about. I am here, safe and sound with them.

We retire to the sitting room and talk for hours while pausing mid conversation every so often to hear the latest news up dates.

By 9pm I can no longer keep my yes open and got to bed.

I am home at last.

It has been almost a month since I last posted something on my blog. It isn’t due to lack of interest or something to say…it’s due to over saturation of events past and present that are preventing me from expressing myself clearly. I have tried to sit down many times to continue typing up and posting my Diary entries during the 18 days of the revolution, but reliving it whilst still going through the post revolution events was getting to be too much for my mind and my emotions to handle. To add to the turmoil neighboring countries to Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Bahrain …etc are going through similar if not worse circumstances and to relive the past with the present became too much for me to cope with.

Messages from Family members, friends and readers whom have been reading the entries and following me on twitter have encouraged me to keep writing and posting. They say that my entries paint a clear picture for them from a person who is actually living in the country. So, I will try to work through the daily distractions of current events here and in the neighboring countries to get my story written and posted.

God Bless

Arabs climbing mountains? seriously? I am VERY serious. For those of you who have followed my blogs you know that I’m following 8 Middle Eastern mountaineers who are climbing the seven summits to show the Arab world that unity is possible. Kheiry Sammakieh who is one of the mountaineers and is representing Lebanon is a friend of mine. I have followed their quest since he messaged me about it. As soon as I get an up date from his brother or other members of the team I post it on my blog.
About a week ago I got a message on facebook from Kheiry’s brother informing the followers of SeVen.
 
The webisodes that can be watched on http://www.unite4seven.com/ are of excellent quality, the pictures are clear and the sound is fantastic. The webisodes are short takes of  episodes that are scheduled to air on a network at a later time and date. The webisodes tease you because they only give you a glimpse of what is going on during the teams quest, it does give the viewers and the fans a good idea of what these brave and ambitious climbers have to endure. Before the adventure even begins these climbers have a bit of a problem, 2 of the climbers are already at the refuge on the mountain and need to conserve their energy so they won’t make it down to the starting point to meet the four climbers that have arrived (1 representing Iraq, 2 women representing Jordan and 1 representing the nation of Morocco). The remaining two climbers who complete the team were stuck in London due to flight cancellations caused by weather. If that isn’t enough the team themselves hit a rough patch of weather on their climb too. You have to watch the webisodes to see for yourself. 
 
Below is the message from Plan A’s director and Kheiry’s brother, Amin;
 
“This is to inform you that “seVen” Webisode 4 is now online, you can view it in the video section of the “seVen” group or alternatively you can visit our website http://www.unite4seven.com and access all our media from there on youtube and myspace.

Please keep the support coming, invite all your friends and family to join. Remember, this is not an ordinary group, we promise to keep you entertained with more activities and updates all they way until the pilot episode “seVen” is ready.

Stay tuned for more Webisodes and Updates …Coming soon.

The “seVen” Team”

The eight representatives from 7 Arab nations who are attempting to climb the 7 summits of the world have been quiet for a week, 7 days to be precise. Thursday afternoon (14th/1/st/2010) we, their followers received word that they had lost communication for 3 days due to circumstances. What the circumstances are they have not said, but I’m sure we will find out soon. I’m just glad that all 8 are fine and well.
 
Here is the latest up date;
 
To all our “seVen” supporters,

It has been “seVen” days since our last communication. Due to extenuating circumstances which we plan to reveal to you, and reveal to you we shall, we lost contact with the team for three days of their epic adventure.

Armed to the teeth with axes, crampons, rope, nationalistic pride and most importantly… HD cameras ;)… Eight climbers representing seVen nations, fought their way through snow, rock and ice to reach the highest point in the Arab world.

We are proud to report that all SeVen nation’s flags were unfurled on the summit and with that, our goal of filming the entire pilot has been a victory.

The specialist production crew on the ground, made up of high altitude camera men, writers and directors, were able to capture some of the most cutting edge footage ever shot in these conditions in the history of the region.

We are now in the post production stage of this journey we have all set out together on. As promised we shall continue to release the webisodes right up until our final summit is reached- the pilot!

Our teams are working around the clock against strict deadlines to deliver regular webisodes that will introduce every climber on our team and every piece we need to complete the puzzle.

Thank you again for your relentless support. Simply said: we would be no where without you. We WILL achieve this TOGETHER.

WATCH THIS SPACE!
The “seVen” team.

Mountain climbers from SeVen Arab Nations are uniting to tackle seven of the highest summits in the world. Their climb is also to send a message to the Arab world that uniting and standing together is not impossible.  Omar Samra who is the first Egyptian to have ever climbed Everest is joining the team and I’m sure will be a valued member to have on the journey. Kheiry, whom I have dubbed ‘Spiderman’ is a friend of mine. Kheiry who is the founder of  ‘Climb 4 Lebanon’. Kheiry will be representing the Republic of  Lebanon on this climb. A few months ago on a recent visit of Kheiry’s to Egypt we sat and talked about his future plans and he mentioned he planned on tackling Everest but he didn’t mention turning it in to a reality TV show!  Kheiry’s brother Amin, is helping his brother’s journey and vision come to life and is working hard to make the public aware of their mission. He’s created a Facebook group called ‘SeVen’ . The group is growing at a fast rate as the word spreads across Facebook and the cyber world.  Amin Sammakieh is also the founder of ‘Plan A’ a Lebanese based creative agency that helps their clients create stronger brands. Plan A is also following the Seven climbers. They have already aired a trailer to the up and coming reality TV show, staring our brave climbers with a vision for a united Arab world.

Just today they aired their first webisode from Morocco, staring Omar and Kheiry as they prepare to climb the highest point in Africa.

Check It Out

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=265831005026&oid=218184735821

for blog updates go to

http://unite4seven.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/day-3-on-jebel-toubkal/#comment-4

Kheiry and his brother Amin are doing an amazing job at keeping their supporters and fans up to date with the latest developments of the up and coming reality TV series that will follow the expedition of 7 mountaineers attempting to climb Mount Everest. The team of climbers recently shot their pilot for their series in Morocco. Below is the latest up date the group members of SeVen received from Kheiry.
 
Coming live to you from the Toubkal Refuge at 3200m!

Yesterday Omar Samra (Climbing for Egypt) landed in Marrakech from Cairo after an overnight stay in Casablanca.

We spent the day catching up with seVen’s director, Elia Saikaly and our assistant director Matt Delaney on production, coordinating what plans we had for the next few days. We had a lot of fun fooling around with our summit flags making sure its all in order for when the rest of our team arrives. I can’t believe this is finally happening, one and a half years of non-stop round the clock planning! We’re finally here, the adventure has begun.

As we headed up the road in a very questionable vehicle we passed village after village, one of which had an awesome looking market! We decided to take a look! We met some lovely market people trying to sell us all kinds of things, from Berber cloaks to silver bangles, to paintings. What do we walk out with? A bag of shrivelled up dried dates, and a bag of nuts. Oh joy.

So the purpose today, was to get ahead of the main team on a reconnaissance mission of the mountain. We are with a full production crew so things are very different to what we are used to!! Cameras, sound, mics, tripods and a whole other plethora of equipment I won’t even dare to pronounce!

Our Moroccan comrad, Nacer Ibn Abdeldjalil, is now with us here at the lodge after a speedy, ‘non-production laden’ crew ascent of the trail. He made it up in 3hrs! That is nothing compared to our 8.5hrs! Speedy Gonzalez!

In any case, we are all very happy we got all the beauty shots on the mountain we needed, and will not have time to shoot with the entire climbing team once they arrive!

There is a lot less snow on the mountain this year, making the path to the summit a lot icier this time round. There has been rain.. Lots of it. Rain + Snow = Ice = Fun! we will evaluate our options in the morning in the hope to scout out the best locations possible to make this pilot fly.

But right now, we are nice and cosy, huddled up by the fire here in our wonderful home away from home, thinking of all of you, grateful, for all the wonderful support you have all given us since and prior to our launch. We are proud to be here, and we will NOT let you down.

Team, we’re waiting for you- everything’s set and we’re ready to roll 🙂

Lots of love and peace from 3200m on Toubkal.

Kheiry
Climbing for the Republic of Lebanon

(http://www.unite4seven.com/)

(http://www.climb4lebanon.com)