Well, here I am. Gate B27 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, waiting to board the Swiss Air flight that will ferry me across the Atlantic to Zurich. It’s a little known fact that all great journeys to Egypt pass through Switzerland, and I’ve got an hour and forty-five minutes in the chocolate capital of the world (I just made that title up) before I head towards my true destination: Cairo.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, this trip became decidedly more adventurous about three days ago, when the Egyptian Supreme Court issued two highly controversial rulings. The first said that Ahmed Shafik, the conservative candidate who was Prime Minister under former President Hosni Mubarak, was clear to run for president in this weekend’s election. The second was that the Egyptian Parliament, in which representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood currently have a majority, was unconstitutional and had to be dissolved. In the days following, martial law was declared, members of Parliament announced they had no intention to leave their positions, the country’s military rulers claimed sole power to pass laws and draft Egypt’s new constitution — with no oversight or involvement from Parliament or the as-yet-unelected president — and polls opened for Egypt’s first free presidential election. Protesters from all sides have flooded to the main squares of practically every city in Egypt to advocate their particular cause and from what I understand of Egyptian politics — which, I’ll admit, is very little — almost no one is happy.
On the one hand, the knowledge that I’m about to fly into a hotbed of political unrest (maybe not a hotbed, but definitely at least a warm cushion) is kind of exhilarating. What an adventure! And what better way for an aspiring foreign correspondent to test her mettle than witnessing the cover story of every newspaper in the world, an emerging democracy teetering on the edge of a possible military coup?
On the other hand, I’m terrified. Not of anything, in particular. I don’t think anything bad is ging to happen while I’m in Egypt — at least, not to me. I’m just nervous/anxious/etc. And anyway, I’m a girl who likes to worry, as my mom says. I guess it wouldn’t be a real adventure if I didn’t have that swooping feeling in my stomach I get when I’m standing at a height or about to do something whose outcome I can’t predict.
That’s enough ruminating for now. Here’s hoping for a smooth flight with as few crying babies as possible. And next time I write, I’ll be in Egypt!