The Lotus Revolution – How We Survived The Egypt Riots
14Feb 2011
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comments

What have been the “defining moments” of your life?

What are the most important situations and events you’ve experienced that have shaped you as a human being? Have you ever experienced an event that was so deeply intense, or powerful, or scary or or moving that it changed you to the core?

I think it’s difficult to get through life without having at least a few experiences like that… And if you live the way Missy and I do, you’ll probably encounter a few more than average.

We spend the winters in a different part of the world every year with our children. Last year we lived on the beautiful island of Bali for 5 months, the year before we had an epic South East Asian Adventure... And this year we decided to live in the Middle East; the Arab Emirates, Oman, Lebanon and Egypt.

Travel is one of our greatest passions. We’ve enjoyed over 20 years of intense, focused, adventure travel together. We’ve shared MANY life-changing experiences, which have made us smarter, shaped our lives, our parenting philosophy and our relationship. But nothing could have prepared us for what we would experience in Cairo in the winter of 2011…

Missy and I have been to Egypt before. It’s simply the best sightseeing trip in the world, bar none. We wanted to experience the amazing sights with our family and friends this year, so we decided to live in Cairo for a month and host a couple Lifebook Trips while we were there.

The first 2 Lifebook Trips were wonderful. Great friends, great food and great conversation. we had fantastic times in Cairo visiting the main sights; the Citadel, the Kan el Kalili market, the Egyptian Museum and of course, the great pyramids of Giza. Next was 4 days on the Nile River visiting the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Karnak, Kom Obo and Edfu. It’s an epic trip and every Lifebook Member who joined us reported that it was a mind-expanding adventure they would never forget.

Missy and I decided to take a little break before the final Lifebook group arrived, to escape the noise and clutter of Cairo for Sharm El Shiek, a tiny resort town on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. It was beautiful, peaceful and relaxing in Sharm… But while we were there we heard a lot of talk of civil unrest; mainly in Suez, Alexandria and Cairo. Inspired by the recent events in Tunisia, there were riots all over Egypt that Wednesday, organized on Facebook and Twitter. We watched the local news closely while we were in Sharm, because we were planning to return to Cairo that Thursday to meet the 3rd Lifebook group.

THURSDAY, January 27, 2011

Just before boarding the plane for Cairo Thursday morning, we watched clerics all over Cairo on TV calling for a “National Day of Rage” on Friday in Tahrir Square following the afternoon prayers… Hmmm… Not sure exactly what a “Day of Rage” is, but it sounds like something we may want to steer clear of…

We arrived in Cairo around lunchtime. On our way to the hotel from the airport, we noticed a serious build up of police and military vehicles on the streets. This actually made us feel more secure than apprehensive… Police armed with automatic weapons can make most tourists nervous, but we’ve come to learn that it;s usually a good thing, a sign of security.

We checked into the Sofitel in Central Cairo, which is located on a small island in the Nile. This island connects Tahrir Square via two bridges, one directly below our hotel room balcony and one farther up the Nile. We thought to ourselves, “if the Day of Rage happens in Tahrir Square, we’re going to have a pretty good view…”

Most of the Lifebook Members who were scheduled to join us on that last trip had canceled due to the civil unrest in Egypt or really bad weather in the States. But two of our best friends, John and Meredith arrived to meet us that afternoon and checked into the hotel. Two of our other friends, Brad and Julie, were scheduled to arrive the following evening.

Things started to get very tense early that evening. The square below us began to fill up with small groups of Egyptians, just standing around, watching and waiting… By dinnertime, the Egyptian government had cut off Internet and cell phone service to the entire country, blacked out local news and Al Jezeera TV, and imposed a strict 5:00 PM curfew. They were obviously preparing for something big. We were stuck in our hotel and our only source of information was international news; CNN and BBC.

The city was relatively quiet that night, but you could cut the tension with a knife. Everyone knew that this was the calm before the storm…

FRIDAY, January 28,2011

I decided to take a long run in the streets of Cairo to gauge the scene for myself. I had to know if my family was in danger – and I don’t tend to trust the news as a valid source of information (a position that was completely validated by this experience)… I took my cell phone with me just in case there were some good photo opportunities – and off I went.

I crossed the small bridge to the left bank of the Nile and ran to the far bridge and crossed into Tahrir Square (15 May Bridge).  As I entered the square, I noticed that there were few protestors, mostly just small groups milling around like the night before, but literally thousands of armed police in full riot gear – helmets, shields, batons and guns. They were organized in columns and pack tightly into dozens of heavily armored vehicles.

There were also hundreds of “plain clothes policeman” who’s job it was to snatch and smash cameras, cell phones and video recorders from anyone and everyone trying to record the scene, so the police could not be blamed. This had been reported by BBC, and the report was accurate. I was immediately accosted by a large group of aggressive, plain clothes Arabs, who ordered me to surrender my cell phone. I had not taken any pictures, so I simply refused to give up my cell phone. They pushed and I pushed back and shoved my way through them as they shouted and grabbed at me. I decided to get out of there NOW. As I began my return across the bridge, walking alone through column after column of riot police, being stared at menacingly by all of them, my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. This army this was not for show, they meant business and this was a serious situation. It was going to be a real war.

When I returned, I told Missy, John and Mere that Cairo was going to EXPLODE that afternoon. And boy, was I right…

Our room faced west, John and Mere’s room faced east. Between the two of us, we had nearly a 180 degree view of the city. The revolution happened right below us, just a few meters away.

NOTE: all the photos on this post were taken from our hotel room balconies and they can all be enlarged by clicking on them.

The Nile River splits Cairo in two, and whoever controls the bridges controls the city. The police set up a barricade on the bridge right below us, to keep the steadily growing crowd of protesters from crossing into Tahrir Square. But the angry crowd continued to swell, they began to push the police back, slowly and methodically. The police did not put up much of a fight. There was no intense violence, no clubbing or shooting, mostly just pushing and shoving. There were just too many protesters and too few police to engage the chanting crowd. So they left 2 of their armored vehicles behind and retreated across the main bridge into Tahrir Square, where they joined with thousands of reinforcements…

The jubilant mob continued to push forward for more than an hour and took the main bridge leading to Tahrir Square.

Then all hell broke loose. Armored vehicles and columns of thousands of armed police came blasting out of Tahrir square and met the protesters on the bridge, firing tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets into the front lines of the crowd. The protesters fought back fiercely, returning tear gas canisters, brandishing clubs, bricks and anything else they could find to fight with. It was a massive crush with literally tens of thousands of people on the bridge… Click on the pictures below and take a look at what was happening on that bridge. It was mind-boggling…

The battle raged for at least 2 hours, but the police finally took back the bridge and pushed the protesters all the way back to the small square below our hotel room balcony. It was a bloody fight with many, many casualties…

It all took place right in front of us, with a mob of thousands surging into the driveway of our hotel at one point. We had no security. The hotel staff, bell boys and cooks were at the front gates, taking care of the wounded protestors who were carried into our hotel, which had become a makeshift ER. All the hotel elevators were shut down as a precautionary measure in case the hotel was over run. All phone lines were cut. And all we could do now was watch in awe with John, Mere and the kids as the battle raged below us…

Meanwhile, the city of Cairo began burning all around us. Fire after fire appeared on the hroizon. Columns of black smoke were everywhere. The sound of automatic gunfire and explosions were non-stop. Tear gas and smoke were so thick in the city that we could barely stay on our balconies to take photos. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing… We were in the middle of a war zone.

Brad and Julie were scheduled to land right about that time. There was absolutely no way to contact them to tell them what was going on. No way to warn them. No way to know if their plane had even landed or if they were met at the airport by our guide… I turned to John and said, “I don’t know where Brad and Julie are going to sleep tonight, but it’s not going to be here…”

THE TURNING POINT

It was just about then that we literally witnessed the TURNING POINT of the battle for Tahrir Square from our window – and I was lucky enough to get the whole thing on film. I’ve not seen a photo sequence like this ANYWHERE in Cairo reports, not even on the CNN. Here’s what happened:

A small group of armored vehicles charged the crowd, followed by dozens of police with guns and clubs. The gunman inside the vehicle was shooting anyone and everyone in sight. But the driver got a bit too confident and drove too far out in front of his reinforcements, he got separated from the other armed vehicles and the foot soldiers… And the angry crowd literally charged the vehicle from all sides, smashing into it with stones, clubs and their bodies. They were able to stop the vehicle and we thought for sure that they would turn it over and kill everyone inside. But somehow, the driver managed to get it going again and turn the corner (barely), running a few people over in the process – and unbelievably, he got away.

And that is when the momentum of the afternoon totally shifted. The angry mob of thousands chased the police and the vehicles, which turned tail and fled over the bridge. Fast. The entire mob poured out of the square to retake the bridge and scatter the police, chasing them down the street for over a mile. And it was OVER. The protestors had won the day. The police retreated all the way back to Tahrir square and simply fell apart. By nightfall, they had completely disappeared from the streets and the mob controlled the city.

Take a look at these extraordinary pictures from the sequence above.

Miraculously, our other friends Brad and Julie arrived to the hotel safely from the airport that evening, driving through the streets of burning tires and upturned cars.  They had left the states before the riots began and had NO IDEA what they were driving into… By the time they arrived all hell had broken loose in Cairo, but our amazing guide Machmood had collected them at the airport and navigated them through the riots to the hotel.

All through the night there was constant gun-fire and explosions. The streets were littered with burning police vehicles and other cars, trucks and piles of burning tires. Buildings were burning and exploding all around us. The smoke and tear gas were so thick in the city that we couldn’t even open our windows. Missy and I put the kids to bed (they were exhausted from the day) and watched CNN and BBC until we fell into a not-so-sound sleep…

SATURDAY, January 29,2011

The next morning, John, Brad and I decided to go out to assess the aftermath of the riots for ourselves. Tanks rolled through the streets everywhere. Our eyes burned from the smoke and tear gas that had permeated the city. There were smoldering and burning buildings, hundreds of burned out cars, trucks and police vehicles littered the sides of the road, shop windows had been smashed, gates and fences torn down – it had obviously been full-scale mayhem all night long.

Even thought it was early, there were still thousands of people on the streets, some still marching and chanting, some just viewing the aftermath and taking pictures… But NO police. They were GONE. The Cairo police force, which had been over 250,000 strong, had completely been beaten down by the people the night before and they had completely disappeared from the scene.

During our time in Cairo we learned that Egyptians HATE the police and view them as hired thugs whose primary purpose is to oppress, strong-arm and shake down the people. They are incredibly corrupt (Missy and I were actually accosted and shaken down TWICE on this trip by the police) and much of the “Night of Rage” was understandably directed against the them.

But now the police were gone, and they had been replaced by a huge show of military force; tanks, armored vehicles, big guns, serious weaponry and thousand of “real solders”.

The Egyptian people LOVE their military they view them as heros. It was so strange, the tanks and army were received with cheers and jubilation everywhere they went. They crowds would make way for the tanks, cheer and throw flowers, while trying to grab hold of the soldiers and shake their hands. And the military loved the people too, waving and smiling back. We thought to ourselves, there is NO WAY that the army will open fire on these people. No way…

The feeling on the streets was an interesting mix of jubilation from the victory of the night before – and a LOT of tension, because A) this war wasn’t over yet – not by a long shot and B) No one knew what the military was going to do. They were clearly the “wild card” at this point:

  • If the military supported Mubarak (who was a long time Military man) they would be forced to fight against the people, whether they liked it or not. And that would not be pretty…
  • But it was also in their power to overthrow the Mubark regime any time they wanted to. All they had to do was say the word and the entire population of Egypt would support them.

The truth was, NO ONE knew what they were going to do… And at this point, they were taking no position at all. They were simply keeping peace in the streets.

We stayed in the streets of Cairo for hours, talking to people, taking pictures (carefully) and surveying the seen. We felt no anti-western sentiment at all from the crowds. We talked to many people and they were honest and open with us. Friendly and excited to talk about what was happening.

There was NO religious fervor – this was CLEARLY not about Muslim vs. Christian, or the west, or anti-America – DESPITE the fact the CNN did their BEST to make this revolution all about America, using slanted questions about the “US supporting the Mubarak regime” and constant references to “the Muslim Brotherhood” in just about every interview. They were doing their best to sensationalize and escalate an already stained situation and incite hatred toward the west. But most of all, they were SELLING FEAR to Egyptians at home and the rest of the world abroad, which is what the news seems to do best these days… Uh oh, I feel a big rant coming on, but I’ll save that for a later date:-)

When John, Brad and I got to Tahrir Square, there were about 10,000 protesters, many fewer than the night before. Some had been there all night and were literally sleeping on the ground. But as the morning wore on, larger and larger groups of chanting Egyptians made their way to the square to join the growing crowd.

While we felt no imminent personal danger, it was tense and nerve-wracking to be out in the streets, because there were lots of guns and tanks everywhere and a growing mob of angry protesters marching, shouting and milling around. We got a little nervous because the 5 main exits to the square were cut off by tanks and soldiers. If an incident were to break out there, we would have been trapped in the middle of it with no way to escape. So we decided to make our way out of the square and go back to the hotel to give the report of what we’d seen to the girls.

There were more big protests that night, more violence, more fires – and all with no police on the streets. Egyptian citizens formed vigilante groups to guard their homes and property. We stayed inside the hotel that night and put the kids to sleep with the familiar sounds and smells of mortars gunfire, and burning buildings all around us. We decided that we would plan our escape the following morning.

SUNDAY, January 30,2011

On Sunday morning, we woke up to sound of helicopters and jet fighters flying low over Cairo, in some kind of bizarre show of force. As the jets broke the sound barrier right over our hotel, the building shook like it was going to fall apart. The Egyptian army had brought out the big weaponry now, and we decided then and there that it was time to get the &*#!%! out of Cairo.

It was imperative that we get good information in order to make our escape with the kids. And that was going to be difficult, because we had no internet, the news was no help at all. Luckily, we did have cell phone service again, it had be restored the evening before. We were able to call and text family and friends in the states, but the information coming from the States was worse than second hand and horribly distorted. No help at all…

The most important thing for us to understand was the situation at the airport. THAT was the key… And the meager, disjointed reports we’d gotten from sources in Cairo and abroad did not paint a pretty picture.

We talked to everyone we could in the hotel and the streets about the situation in the airport, including 2 ladies who had personally spent 9 hours there the day before, trying to get out of the country. Here’s what they had to say:

“The Cairo airport is a compete disaster, BEYOND insane. No one is in charge, there is no security, no one knows what the air traffic control situation is. Just navigating to get TO the airport, through the military and armed street gangs is a challenge in itself. Once you’re there, it will take you 2 hours to get through the crush at the front door, and that is if you bribe the security police with 1000 Egyptian pounds. If you get in, you’re packed like sardines with panicked, angry people all pushing toward the check in counters. There is no food, no water, so be prepared to take a couple days of supplies if necessary. We couldn’t find the Lufthansa counter, because the monitors were down. When we finally found where the counter was supposed to be, we waited 4 hours in a stampede of people and no one helped us. There was no one TO help us. The crews and employees of most airlines simply didn’t show up for work. Most flights never took off. After 9 hours, we just gave up and came back to the hotel. We’re going to wait 3 or 4 days and try again…”

This was not a good report!

So, we talked it down with John and Brad. What were our options? After exploring all the possibilities, we were left with 4 possible choices:

  1. Stay put in the hotel, where we had food and water and our kids were fairly safe. DOWNSIDE: hotel employees we not showing up for work (they had already closed 3 of the hotel restaurants leaving only one to feed all the people who were trapped there, there were no employees to clean rooms, they had closed the business center as well as most other facilities), which meant that this oasis could eventually dry out. The intensity and violence in Cairo could escalate and with absolutely NO police on the streets, the hotel might no longer be safe, and an escape would be much more dangerous.
  2. Try to seek safe haven in the US Embassy. DOWNSIDE: the Embassy was right in Tahrir Square, and I did not relish the thought of trying to navigate my family through the streets to get there and join what would likely be thousands of panicked Americans sleeping on blankets on the floor, waiting for the government to “process” them.
  3. Try for the airport and take a commercial flight to an Arab country. From the meager amount of information we were able to gather, the Terminal 1 flights to other Arab nations were going out more regularly than anything else. Emirates Air, Etihad, Gulf Air etc. We already had tickets on a Gulf Air flight to Bahrain the next day, so this was a serious possibility.
  4. Try for the Airport and the State Department Evacuation Flights. The American Embassy was evacuating Americans (50,000 people, they reported) and flying to 3 cities, Ankara, Athens and Sophia, Bulgaria. You were not allowed to CHOOSE your destination, you were only allowed 1 small bag each, and they could not guarantee that families would all be on the same flight. So f*ck that.

After a very intense day and night of talking to locals, calling the local airlines, consulting with AMEX travel agents and texting the US trying to get advice from ANYONE who knew ANYTHING about the situation on the streets or at the airport, we formulated the best plan we could based on the information we had…

It was going to be option #3. We were going to try for the airport the next morning and get out on the Gulf Air Flight to Bahrian. That flight had gone out the day before and they were planning to go out that day too. And we were going to be on that plane, come hell or high water.

John and Meredith were going to try it with us. They had made reservations on an Alitalia flight to Rome that same afternoon. They called the airline and the flight was still scheduled to depart on time just like ours.  So the 6 of us decided to try for the airport together.  Brad and Julie were scheduled to leave the next day on Air France and decided to wait for our report from the airport before making their final decision.

MONDAY, January 31,2011

We woke up early, pulled together some provisions, loaded our bags in the car and headed to the airport. We were expecting the worst, but we were ready to face it head on. We were an army of 4 – and with John and Mere, that made 6. Plus our guide Mauchmoud and our armed security guard were with us.

We took off from the hotel and were stopped many times by the military and armed Egyptians who were protecting their neighborhoods, but we were never detained (unlike SO many others we saw on the way).  Once they saw we were tourists they would usually wave us on. There were dozens of tanks and thousands of soldiers everywhere on the streets, along side protestors.  We had the kids count all the tanks and burned out cars they saw to occupy their time along the way. It was a very tense ride to the airport, but we were focused, paying attention and ready for battle if need be.

Fighting our way through a traffic jam of epic proportions, we finally got near the airport. Aa couple kilometers away, I decided to jump out with our guide and walk though the crazy traffic and the crush of people, so I could understand what we’d be up against once we got to the terminal. I did not want to lead my family into a dangerous situation if it was somehow avoidable…

The entrance to the airport was UNBELIEVABLE. I mean, it was seriously like the evacuation in the final days of Viet Nam… Or when the Shah’s regime fell in Iran. A mob of hundreds crushing, shouting and fighting to shove their luggage through a broken security belt and get through the narrow front door and into the terminal. It was literally dangerous for anyone who wasn’t physically strong. At one point, I had to protect a baby in a stroller behind me from getting crushed by big Arab guy with bags, who I literally punched in the chest. Hard. Twice.

I fought my way in through security, slowly and methodically. I had no luggage with me, which helped…. When I reached the broken security counter, the guard demanded my passport and flight itinerary, which we did not even look at. I realized there was NO functional security at the Cairo Airport. Nice…

Once I got through the narrow entrance, the crush of the mob lightened a bit. It was still dangerously crowded inside, but at least not like the intense stampede at the front entrance… My next job was to find my family and get them in – then we could figure out what to do from there.

Here is a copy of the text between Missy and me over the next few minutes:

Jon: Lover, where r u? (again 5 minutes later) where r u?

Missy: Just pulling up now

Jon: It’s crazy at the front. 2 dangerous for the kids. Stay away. Go past. I think here r 2 other entrances. Checking now. Don’t stop in the front.

Missy: We r past. Already at the back – trying to get thru.

Jon: Where r u?

No answer.

Jon: I want to fight for you, I can’t get there. Where r u?

Missy: At the last gate. Mauchmoud is here.  I’ve got the kids. We can fight thru.

Jon: B careful. Keep the kids in front.

Missy: John and Mere have the bags. I have the kids.

Jon: OK, I see you now! See u inside.

I literally shoved my way to the back entrance where Missy was being questioned aggressively by security. She didn’t have her boarding pass (I’d taken it with me). Our guide, Mauchmoud fought the police, who simply didn’t have TIME to worry about protocol, so they let her though. We quickly pulled the kids into the terminal and collected our bags. John, Mere. Missy, Jade, Justin and me. We were all here…

Mauchmoud grabbed John & Mere immediately and found their counter, which was not quite as crazed as the other counters for some reason. Mauchmoud was able to secure their boarding passes and get their bags checked in.  We hugged John & Mere, said good-bye and promised to let each other know when we were safe – them in Rome and us in Bahrain.

Now to find the Gulf Air counter in this crush of panicked humanity…

Since we were flying on an Arab airline, there were no tourists on our flight… Just many, many frightened Egyptian families trying to flea their own country, many of which didn’t even have tickets yet but trying to fight for them at the airport… It was crazy!

We found Gulf Air. The line was a fistfight, like the most violent mosh pit at the most extreme Nine Inch Nails concert ever. Mauchmoud told us to wait at the back and fought his was alone to the front of the line (we could NEVER have done this without him). Once he was up there, he shouted for our bags, which I lifted and passed over the heads of dozens of screaming Arabs.

We somehow got the bags tagged. We got our boarding passes. We made our way to immigration and hugged Mauchmoud to thank him for all he’d done. We would not have a CHANCE of making it through this without him. We cleared immigration (though it’s slower when the 6 guys in front of you have 4 wives each to process) and then we got through security, such that it was…

We found ourselves in the Gate area for Gulf Air flight 30 to Bahrain, keeping our fingers crossed that it would fly that afternoon…

2 hours later, we were sitting in our seats. The kind stewardess offered us orange juice. We informed her, kindly but with resolve, that we’d prefer Champagne instead. She happily obliged. Missy and I clicked our glasses together twice (our personal custom) and though the plane was still on the runway, I must admit that a glass of Champaign has NEVER, EVER tasted so good…

The Gulf Air flight took off about 3 hours late, but it DID take off… As the wheels left the ground, we knew that our epic Cairo adventure had come to an end.

We had experienced history in the making. We’d been faced with some extremely difficult decisions, often armed with nothing but our instincts. And we had made them very well. Most of all, we were together, healthy and SAFE.

We slept for 14 straight hours when we got to Bahrain. We were absolutely exhausted. The events in Cairo had taken SO much more out of us than we realized while they were occurring… Within 36 hours we’d gotten word that John and Mere had arrived safely in Rome, and Brad and Julie had arrived safely in Paris. All was well… Now to relax, recover and take good care of each other…

EPILOGE

The Lotus Revolution was clearly one of those defining moments of our lives. One of those events that I referred to at the beginning that makes you “you”.

So what did we learn from this intense, extreme experience? How did it affect our relationship? How did it affect our children? Will it change the way we live our lives in the future? Will it change the way we travel? Did it change our views on politics? On religion? On the media? Did it change the way we feel about America? About the potential to change? About FREEDOM?

These are interesting questions, some of which we’re still processing…

We would love to know your thoughts. How did you view the events as told by the media as you watched it unfold in real time? How did you feel when you read about our experience? How does all this make you feel about America, about the media, about FREEDOM? What were YOUR lessons? What were YOUR take-aways?

There are many, many rich veins of treasure to mine in the extraordinary story of the Lotus Revolution in the winter of 2011. Let’s discuss it and see if we can unearth a few gems together.

– Jon Butcher
February 14, 2011

64 comments “The Lotus Revolution – How We Survived The Egypt Riots”

  • Vishen
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, Missy – incredible story. Incredible pics. Sounds scary….but deep down inside, I kinda wish I had experienced what you saw. Witnessing history in the making. Wow!

  • Derek
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Dear Jon and Missy,

    I first off compliment you for your courage to never give up and be positive in that environment. I am sure your love for each other and for your children gave you tremendous strength to push beyond the fear of the environment and reach your end goal of getting back home to safety.

    Not only experiencing the life of travel through the country but the “change of a country” right in front of your eyes will be a memory never forgotten.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and your insight to the truth of the turmoil from someone that lived through it.

    Many blessings to you and your family.

    Derek

  • Ken Coscia
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    amazing experience!
    It reminds me that things are not always what they appear to be. I have also noticed as I travel the world that the media in the US reports very differently than it does in Europe and other parts of the world.

    I find it refreshing to hear of the local people’s comments about the West.

  • Steve Silverston
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    WOW Jon!
    Riveting, amazing, incredible story!
    Thank you for giving us the inside perspective and important insight.
    So glad you and your family and friends made it out OK! :-)

  • Pat
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Among the most interesting perspectives of the Egyptian process that I have seen so far. Thank you for sharing. Your run before things really started happening was a very important clue about your character and adventurous spirit. Like the way you wanted to feel for yourself the pulse of things in the city.

  • Joel Kamphuis
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, Brian & Heather Johnson are good friends of ours, so we were hearing a little about your ordeal & their part of the trip. Having a 2 yr old, I can only imagine how you must have felt with your kids there in the middle of everything. They will surely have some great stories to share with their classmates. We feel like you do about travel: you learn more about the world & humanity by seeing & experiencing first-hand, than you’d ever learn in a book or school (not that I’m knocking either). As for the press, you learn that they are not always providing accurate, or non-biased information. I’m looking forward to meeting You & Your family one day; sounds like we can share some great travel legends.
    Welcome Back Safe & Sound!

  • Arthur Russell
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Very impressive reporting! hats off to reality told by “normal” people. I’m very lucky and grateful stumbling into your blog.
    My experience of this event was the cut-off of all means of communication on Friday night while on face book discussing travel plans with a friend in Cairo.
    just before the cut-off she told me that even silence feels strangely different these days.
    As the internet came back on line the first message I received from her was that she was very proud to be Egyptian. :)

    Your views of what transpired is of invaluable essence to myself especially as I’m reading Dan Gardner’s best-seller Risk, the science of politics of fear which is highly recommended to anyone interested in nowadays management of societies.

    You’ve done a sterling job, excellent! Thank you.

  • Joy Meredith
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, still tense from just reading this, can’t imagine living it and with the kids there with you. Glad you are safe, but hope you are not still in Bahrain- heard it is experiencing unrest there too.

    My take away from watching the press is that Americans still love to make it all about us. And the Freedom call is so easy from the sidelines, but few see the brutal side of the costs. Not just in gaining freedom, but all that comes with then living with it in a society where the everyday workings are still a struggle.

    I so appreciate that you took the time to share this and I hope you (and the family) will be safe in the rest of your travels.

  • John Vieceli
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Sometimes accounts vary from person to person who experience the same situation. I couldn’t have told it better Jon. Insightful and totally accurate. The ride to the airport and the airport itself was the most stressful part of the whole trip.

    Expectations are a tricky thing, sometimes what you expect isn’t what you get. I was expecting a relaxing trip, connecting with Brad, Joe, Tellman, Jon and Missy but what I received was far more interesting and valuable.

    I learned that my fiance and I work very well under pressure. Can most couples who are to be married say that with absolute certainty?

    I learned that there is always “one more thing” you can do in any situation no matter how gloomy. When you’ve exhausted all options for a flight, or a route to the airport, there is always one more thing you can explore or try.

    I reinforced my belief that people are essentially the same wherever you go.

    I also reinforced my belief that our government cannot take care of you or protect you… that is your responsibility.

    And lastly, I think its easy for me to say I was fortunate to have experienced history. That’s true but should I be thinking…

    How can I make history?

  • Brian
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    I was there and being around the people there made me appreciate a country and people of kindness and integrity even more. I was constantly looking over my shoulder thinking when the next time was that I would be conned or scammed.

    It is obvious to me that people needed to be that way to get by because their government keep them suppresses. Which also added to a mentality that will never get them out of the state of mind they are in as citizens and will allays be a third world country.

    Until the culture changes and they have something of substance to be excited about and inspired about things will never change. But they could get things to a tipping point and change the mentality of the people with the right leadership.

  • ross
    February 15, 2011
    12:10 pm

    WOW. unbelievable. Love the story. It is ties like this that make you re adjust your priorities in life. Everyone needs to go through something like this once in a while.

  • Jon B
    February 16, 2011
    12:10 pm

    John, I agree with you on every take-away you mentioned – especially that you and Mere work great under pressure. That’s an understatement, my friend. We would not have been able to make our escape they way we did without the info you gathered that last night… And Mere is just a STUD, plain and simple! :-)

    Brian, what you say about the attitude and culture in Egypt is SO true. Missy and I have been to nearly 70 countries, and we’ve seldom seen people as unhappy and frustrated as what we experienced in Egypt. It seemed like every interaction was an argument, a negotiation, a fight or a misunderstanding. The entire culture has a “taker mentality” with no concept that the way to create wealth and get ahead is to ADD VALUE to the lives of your fellow men and woman. There was a sense that Egypt had the most glorious PAST in the history of the world, but no FUTURE. So much anger, animosity and agitation everywhere – so much negative energy – it was really hard to live there for over a month.

    The problem is that the system is so corrupt, people can’t get ahead even no matter WHAT they do… That’s why were were so proud and moved to see them out in the streets fighting for their basic freedoms.

    I only hope the situation improves, with the next regime being BETTER for the people than the last one was. There is no guarantee of this… Iran is a perfect example.

  • George W
    February 16, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Kyle Eertmoed shared this with me and it has been one of the most interesting reads I have had in a long time. Your photos are really great. Thank you for sharing this with the world. Egypt has been one of my passions for a very long time and I hope to go back there one more time. Again, thanks and I am glad all worked out for you and your family.

  • Shenna Jean
    February 16, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Wow…what an incredible story and the photos are simply stunning! Not only am I extremely glad that everyone made it out safe and sound, but more grateful for your calm, cool, & collected heads that made the very most out of your situation. You took the opportunity to document history, dive extremely deep into a culture, walk on the wild side and come out the other end with an amazing learnings and perspectives to share with the world. This is truly experiential knowledge you’re sharing with us and MUCH more entertaining, educational, and objective than a news blip. Jon, your family and inner circles are beyond inspirational; here’s to your continued adventures!

  • Jade Butcher
    February 16, 2011
    12:10 pm

    I just read all of your comments about what happened to my family and me in Egypt.
    Thank you all for taking the good time to make a comment to support our blog.
    All of your comments have reached into my heart.
    Some of the words, I didn’t really understand because I’m dyslexic and I’m still a kid… but I don’t care…
    The first time I traveled across the world, I wasn’t really sure… I knew I would miss my friends and I thought I wasn’t really up for it.
    But after I travel a few times, it taught me who I was and who I wanted to be. And even though I might need to miss my friends, I knew I would come back with so many stories. And before I would get to the end of my stories it would be the beginning again.
    Just so you, I’m 10 years old… so here are a couple of more facts about me:
    I travel the world with my mom and dad… sometimes i get homesick, but not very often.
    I learn over 1 gillion things every single day and even if I already knew some of them, they are still fresh in my mind everyday.
    Thank you for reading my blog post and I hoped you learned at least 1 thing about me.
    :) Jade

  • Bruce Yarnell
    February 16, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon and Missy, I was glued to the television coverage and thinking that you had left Egypt just before the violence errupted, so it was surprising to get your first note about “escaping”. Still had no idea of the personal danger and experience that you were going through. No wonder you slept 14 hours straight when you were safe!

    Egypt remains one of my favorite places in the world becuase of the history and contribuitons to our society. When we were there in 2005 I was facinated and very aware of the 5 levels of security around us trying to stop incidents from happening that would affect the tourist industry. I was also very aware of money changing hands to keep everything moving smoothly. Through the travel, I gained a love of the Egyptian people that was not expected at all. We wish the best for them.

    Hopefully we can all return to a much more democratic and peaceful Egypt where the common people are treated fairly are part of the political process. Hopefully, the treasure’s from the past are mostly intact.

    Your writing was definitely excellent. I was riveted by your descriptions. Your writing is the best description of the events that I have read or seen on TV. Good job!

  • Juan Barreda
    February 16, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Hi, my name is John/Juan Barreda, Cathy Magagnini is my wive’s niece, love them all.
    Thank God you guys were able to get home, that was a blessing, and the pictures were incredible. Thanks for sharing this story, just makes us all be thankful for the little every day things that we take for granted. Unfortunately we are living in a world that has decided to take God out of the picture, the more we read about all the tragedies and uprisings all over the world, the more I know that God’s word is true, all we can do is pray for those countries, and ours, love our families and love our neighbors, share what we believe, and hope that our faith stays strong. I hope you guys are enjoying the rest of your vacation, praise God for bringing you, your family and friends out of Egypt, again thanks for sharing,
    God Bless,
    JB

  • Jim Arnold
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon and Missy,
    Thank you for inviting us to share such an extraordinary trip with you. Without your encouragement, we probably would have never visited Egypt. We consider it the best trip that we have ever taken, and are SO glad to have shared it with you.
    We were tremendously worried about you after we had returned safely to the States and were so glad to get updates about your status. It sounds like a harrowing experience that you handled with tremendous poise and courage.
    It had to be life-changing for all of you to say the least. We are happy that you are all safe – thank you for sharing your story and insight into what is one of the most amazing events of the of the 21st century. I can’t believe that you were right in the middle of it all. We look forward to sharing photos, stories, and cocktails upon your return to Chicago!
    Jim

  • JOE POLISH
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon,

    Since I was supposed to be on this final Egypt trip with you guys it’s just so wild to read what you wrote.

    As you know we sat on the runway for 2 hours at JFK, before they canceled the flight due to massive snowstorm, I was almost there…

    I feel incredibly lucky that the flight did NOT take off and we ended up spending the night at the airport because everyone was snowed in and could not even get a cab to NYC. I was tired and by the time we finally got out of the airport I had not slept for over 30 hours. However, that is nothing compared to what you guys went through.

    What I did learn is to follow my intuition.

    I followed my gut feeling that I should not take the next flight to Egypt that was scheduled for later that day. I even called the Sofitel hotel where I had reservations and where you were staying in Cairo and at the time they told me it was safe to come and not worry about it. Little did that person know that within 24 hours all that would change.

    So I just followed my intuition and didn’t take the next flight.

    I was so worried about all of you over the next several days and was so happy when I got the text that you guys all made it out safely.

    I know being there would have given me a perspective on the world that canNOT be gotten any other way. But I’m still glad I didn’t go ☺

    Either way, I am just grateful to live in America and I’m so happy that all of you made it through safely. Also, after having done 2 trips with you, Missy, Jon and friends in the past I really know the importance of world travel and how much it helps you understand the world and other people in the world.

    Many people don’t realize how well the United States works (in spite of many challenges and many people wanting to remove freedoms that many people take for granted).

    The news media does a terrible job of reporting accuracy and in almost all cases they just create more tension because they want to sell fear like you pointed out.

    There is so much more I could say about this trip that almost happened for me, however I will do that at a later time.

    Thank you for taking the time to put this entire piece together and share it with everyone. I will share this with many people and you guys are awesome!

    Best,

    JOE

  • Jon B
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Joe, Jim, Bruce, Meredith and EVERYONE ELSE, thanks SO MUCH for your kind words…

    I’m SO GLAD we wrote that post, even though it was stressful as hell documenting what happened moment by moment… It was healing in a way and brought some closure to what was really one of the most intense experiences of our lives.

    Have you seen what’s happening in Bahrain? The place we escaped to??? Crazy stuff… I think we’re going to see a serious chain reaction, country by country, that could last all year…

    This is a real chance for the people of the Middle East to take control of their future. Those countries are still KINGDOMS, folks. Doesn’t matter what they call them (Emirates, Sultanates, etc) most of those countries are totally controlled by a GUY or a FAMILY that can make any law they want any time they want for any reason they want. The press is as free as they want it to be. The internet is as regulated and accessible as they want it to be. Etc etc.

    American’s can’t even wrap their heads around the concept of a KING in the 21st century…

    It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks… This could SERIOUSLY change the world – and FAST.

    I wonder if Iran could be next…?

  • Stephan Szöllös
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Just very glad to read that you are all ok from what seems to have been an extraordinarily dangerous situation!

    Best Regards,

    Stephan

  • Emilie
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, I was tied up in knots reading this, but I couldn’t tear myself away from any of it. It’s an extraordinary account that offers a lot more honest insight than any of the media coverage here in the US. I’m so glad your family is safe and sound. It’s a testament to your relationships with Missy, the kids, your friends and, of course, an excellent guide, that you navigated through this ok. Rest and recover.

  • Tom Kessler
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, Missy – a truly remarkable sequence of events you and your family have lived through. Thank you very much for sharing your insights. Living in Europe and seeing the changes that happen just 3 to 4 short hours on a plane away “Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, …” brings me back with both feet solid on the ground to enjoy life every day, yet makes me think even more how these developments will effect us all in the months to come. You demonstrate in your travel report that it is oneself that one must trust finally more than governments or anyone else. Your courage and intuition is remarkable.
    Wishing you well. All the best.

    Tom

  • Jessi Butcher
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    oh. my. god. What a crazy story! It’s so bizarre to hear your side of it in detail, finally. We were with you every step of the way – putting together bits and pieces from the [somewhat skewed] news, and phone calls/texts with you. I had the general skeleton but not the meat of the story – I had no idea just HOW crazy it actually was.

    I am SO thankful. So thankful for so many things…

    1. That not only did you make it out safely, but
    you had the experience of a lifetime. The kids
    got to see a human revolution first hand and
    UNDERSTAND on a deep level what freedom
    is made of and how valuable it is. A memory
    that will surely embed itself in their develop-
    ment (and yours)

    2. That my little family (Pat and Mad) and the
    other Lifebook groups were able to experience
    the magnificence that is Egypt before every-
    thing went down. We had that small & special
    window just a WEEK before everything got
    crazy. Who knows how long it will be until
    tourism is stable again in that part of the
    world. I was watching the news and felt like
    a participant. Not some distant foreigner,
    but a ‘citizen of the world’. I KNEW those
    places – We had stepped foot there just
    days prior!

    3. That I have a family of BAD ASSES who can
    deal with absolutely anything that comes their
    way. With the confidence, courage, strength
    and will power to cope with absolutely any
    challenge life throws at them, and do it with
    grace and a positive mindset.
    The Butchers are an INCREDIBLE team
    and I am proud to be one of them!

    I love you all SO much and am so glad that you can share your story with the world. Jade – thank you for posting a comment – it was so wonderful to be with you, even if only in your words :-) I love and miss you VERY much (and Maddi does too).

    Can’t wait to have a margarita with you guys when you get back and hear even more about this crazy, life-altering adventure! I have a few of my own to share as well, which seem dwarfed in comparison :-)

    Until then, we are sending our love across the seas to you!

    <3 – Jess

  • lucie Kleinman
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    I wept as i read your story. I thought how scared you must have been. I am enourmously grateful for your safe return and, very impressed by your courage in the face of danger and , if i may, really proud of your badassness. You made all the right moves! Right up to the glass of champagne! Bravo!

    As for me, i watched the revolution unfold on CNN, and stood in spirit with the people of Egypt. I was moved by their solidarity and hopeful that they would perservere. i believe they taught us all an important lesson. A people united cannot be defeated. It was an inspiring movement.

    Not sure it has changed my politics or religious views, it has, however, made me deeply grateful to live in a nation that believes freedom is every man’s right.

    Jon, again, thank you for sharing your personal story.

    Love and light to you, your family and the people of Egypt.

    Lucie

  • Jackie Byrum
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon & Missy, so glad you are back and safe. What an incredible journey, experiencing history being made. You had me hanging on every word. Be safe and I miss you guys!

    Jackie
    xxxx

  • Tim Ringgold
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Hi Jon,

    Thank you for taking the time to put all the pieces back together in such painstaking detail here. As a daily blogger myself, I can appreciate how much time, effort, and energy this took, particularly because documenting it alone no doubt brought back many thoughts feelings, and emotions.

    I was sitting on that plane in NYC at JFK in the snow as well, and consider myself blessed to have avoided the whole thing altogether. I simply could not enjoy any of the time I gained by not going until we heard you guys were all out and safe.

    I am inspired by you, your wife, and your commitment to your family. Your kids will forever be increased and enhanced by the exposure to the world you have provided them. Kudos.

    Tim

  • Jason Moffatt
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    What an intense experience. I’m so thankful you took the time to share this story and that you and the family made it out okay.

  • Brad West
    February 17, 2011
    12:10 pm

    We followed the happenings as closely as possible here in the states. The break through in communication was the site SayNow.com. This a Google owned site was allowing people to call in from Egypt and turn voice into text a joint effort by Google, Twitter and a bunch of translators. Pretty amazing how fast they put this project together.

    Your story totally sent chills up my spine when I read it and thinking how much of the story we were missing. You guys are amazing and thank you for recording as much as you did. More than fantastic job and everyone survived.

    Thank you for sharing
    BW

  • Dawn rosenmayr
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Wow what an experience! Thank you for including
    Us all in the truth. I find life an everlasting learning
    Experience and you all sure went threw a big one.
    Living in fear is so off balancing I’m glad you could
    Keep your minds hearts and thoughts strong and positive.
    And I’m glad you got the heck out of there. Nothing
    Is worse then feeling unsafe especially with little
    Or no power. I was following your advise thus summer
    And traveled threw Europe alone for a few months. I had just
    Gotten on a train in vienna to Munich when I recorded
    A terrible call that my 24 nephew had died. I went into
    Complete shock, and panic. When all of a sudden a Christian
    Healer and another Buddhist man came down the train walkway and grabbed my hands and started praying. The sat by myside
    For 5 hours while finishing of my train ride. Octoberfest
    Had just started that evening so I had no way to get home or hotel. Alone. But like you I assessed and finally got flights out of there after a couple of days. Not sure octoberfest is the same as a riot but it sure felt like it those few days. It was all so life changing!
    I would love to hear what you learned from your fears on your trip and what
    Do you think you would have done different or what did you do
    Right that you can share with us!
    Thanks so much!
    Dawn

  • Colin
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing your adventure! I was attending a Lifebook session admiring the Chicago skyline from your apartment when we were told you were in Egypt. There was a deep concern for the safety of you and your family and I believe that more than few prayers were offered up. It was fascinating to read your blog post post and see those images.

    As a former newspaper guy, I believe you have captured extremely valuable content that would scoop most foreign correspondents. From my personal experience, much of the media we see in North America is engineered propaganda (watch the Panama Deception movie) and you have proof. Iranian warships are trying to move through the Suez canal for first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution. This act will provoke Israel. It might be wise to keep our eyes on Jerusalem . . .

    Fine journalism! Glad your family is safe.
    Colin

  • James Friesen
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    I am impressed with how open and goal oriented you all stayed in the midst of chaos. And the insights brought forth of the Egyptian people and their struggle for Freedom while clearly discerning they are not angry at America or Christianity like the press would like us (Americans) to believe. It’s refreshing to have such a bold recounting of events from a personal viewpoint such as your own, to remind us just how human we all are in relationship to the rest of the world. Ultimately, Egyptian or American, Muslim or Christian, we are all fighting for a sense of safety and acceptance. Thank you for helping me to see that more clearly on a universal level…it helps me to see that most others really are not the enemy we’ve been led to believe they are.

    Blessings to you and the safety of your family and families everywhere.

    James

  • Moody
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Even though, i so very sadly missed being in Egypt at the time of Revolution…
    i know the fabric of Egyptian people like the back of my hand…well, almost 😉

    I can rant about this for a bookful of pages…
    but ill be surprisingly brief….

    you didn’t witness “Egyptian” history in the making…
    you witnessed a tangible change of the World…

    I strongly believe Egypt’s Revolution is the 1st step in a brand new world,
    if you think i’m oversizing it…. look at what’s starting to happen now in 5 different neighbor countries, Simultaneously.

    Although i envy you (and everyone else who’d been there at the time), i can assure you that the number of things you can learn from such an experience (that i haven’t been a physical part of, yet can see through clearly, for many reasons) is just countless…. and spans all levels (personal,social,national,regional,global, etc… )

    Right now, as i type this message to you… Tahrir square has MORE than 2 million people in it & around it ( i just gotta phone call from my family in the square)….. the sight of which, is breath-taking, shocking, astouding, … and so much more…
    Flip to Al Jazeera now, and hear the united chanting of a couple o’ dozen stadiums combined!

    its a statement by the “people” to the transitional government not to screw up or “play” games….. they are kinda saying “we already know our way to the square,…. and we’ll come here whenever we’re unhappy with any of your policies” ….

    The world (after centuries of “politics” & “media” control) is being taken over again by the power & grasp of “the people” ….. and very soon governments will only be able to exercise “regulation”…. not “ruling & control”.

    God bless Egypt, God bless Freedom, God bless Humanity …
    Peace!

  • Dr. Bruce Hansbrough
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon,

    This is a very powerful, moving, real life story. In my mind as I’m reading, I am living an epic movie with you, Missy, and your children as the main characters. Now that you’re back on solid, secure, American soil I am grateful that you and your family made it without injury. This story gave me pause for thought: we are so blessed to have a strong foundation of freedom and economic prosperity here in the US.

    I am not convinced that the vast majority of Americans can truly appreciate how fortunate we are. As a young Naval Officer I can remember visiting Egypt as a liaison with the Egyptian military and civil counterparts, and it was a very strict society then. This event that you describe is a stark reminder to me that we live in a country that has huge advantages because of the system that was setup to foster economic prosperity and human development.

    Reminding ourselves how easily that could be destroyed through experiences like yours keeps Nancy and I working hard to improve our own lives. Now that there is some semblance of stability in Cairo again, my hope for the Egyptian people is that they do not squander this opportunity to bring the kind of democratic process that has mad us a great nation. My thoughts, prayers, and deepest love and respect for you remain always.

    Blessings!

    Bruce

  • Novella Wellington
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. In reality we are all one big “family”, wanting to know what’s going on with everyone else, but at the same time happy that it is not us experiencing difficult situations. It is extremely important to pass on story telling events…they last longer in one’s mind, and your story is one that we all should hold in our heart. We, meaning the ones that live in the USA, are most fortunate to be in a land of opportunity, and a land with a “lawful” structure to work with, even if it is somewhat imperfect. Your story has made me even more grateful to live here. Best wishes for you and your family in all your future travels.

    Sincerely, Novella

  • Christine Hafer
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Just amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your direct encounter. You have painted a picture of strength and beauty for your family, friends, and the Egyptians. And your pictures really help tell your story; I noticed all the smiles despite the exhaustion.

    One thing I have been learning in my adult life is that people are mostly the same despite differences in cultures, religions, and upbringings. As an American and product of the American news, I was scared of the world. I’ll never understand why there is so much of a fear base in American culture towards everything non-American. I am appreciative that you have shared your experience with all of the positive and negative aspects of travel in what would be one of the worst possible travel conditions for many of us.

    Despite the frightening aspects of your story and imaging how you all must have felt, I can’t help but feel a sense of victory for humanity.
    And yet, I have to wonder how this seemingly world-wide shift will continue to effect everyone, especially those of us that have experienced decades of peace in North America (or a lifetime of peace in my case).

    I look forward to hearing how this event will shift your perception.

  • Jeffrey Stamp
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, This is an amazing story that simply couldn’t have been created it had to be lived. I guess the practice you and Missy had navigating temples in India with us that were off-limits to westerners was only a meager warm-up to the marathon experience you had in Cairo. I found my self fighting the urge to jump ahead in the story to confirm you, Missy and the kids were all right. And Vieceli! So glad everyone is safe.

    For me Jon, I know your strength. And yet when the odds get stacked against you by such overwhelming numbers, strength alone can only push so far. I was spellbound by the crush of humanity you witnessed. Having been in push-and-shove cultures, witnessed bombings and tragedy, I’ve never been surprised by the level of the anger, but rather shocked by the intensity of their resolve. I am so glad your contingency planning skills and your own personal resolve met this challenge. Vigilance my friend is a skill. I’m glad your family are experts.

    Finally, I am in awe of your guide Mauchmood. Despite the human chaos and the obvious fracturing of his country, he demonstrated the ultimate commitment to human kindness — respect of life. Westerners are quick to judge other cultures and peoples, but it is still wonderful to see that no matter where you find challenges, there are still humans with the capacity to respect each other and commit to the journey. His dedication to you, your family, and your group is powerful.

    I can’t wait to see all of you and give you all a big hug. Amazing adventure. Be well.

    Stamp

  • Natalie Whitten
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    I agree with all that was previously mentioned – just Wow and thank goodness you are all safe! Thank you for taking the time to document this amidst the chaos. Jade, thank you for introducing yourself and I must say, you are going to know more about the world than most adults out there ever will, especially learning a gillion things every day! Good for you! And don’t worry, your friends (“habibi”) will be there when you get back eagerly awaiting to hear about all your tales from the Middle East.

  • Mark Nolan
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Wow, thank you for sharing this amazing story of your incredible journey, and thank goodness you all made it through safely. This is a fine piece of journalism and you are an inspiring example of grace under pressure.

    Mark

  • Karla Ortiz
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon and Missy,

    What an unshakeable team you two are! I’m facilitating a Lifebook session right now and we just happen to be going through my favorite category – Love relationship. :-) I have the privilege of witnessing first hand your extraordinary relationship and it’s no surprise that the “Warrior” and “Peacemaker” came through this one victorious! I’m so grateful that you are safe. After reading your story, I should have been alot more worried!!!!

    We miss you dearly and look forward to your return…..your gorgeous city awaits you!

  • Don Jones
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, As you know, Jane and I had to canceled our trip with you this year. How the lord works in mysterious ways. We were so worried about you guys when we realized that you were in the middle of it. This post of your adventure was one of the most riveting pieces I have ever read. It truly tests your character and makes you realize who are the most important people in your world. You are the best and a true inspiration for Jane and I. Thank God you are all safe. We hope to make another trip in the future. You always provide the most excitement. Peace Don

  • admin
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Jeffery! I must admit, the Cairo event displaced our previous “most intense travel day ever” which was spent with you in that temple in Varanasi, India… Still one of our favorite memories ever from 20+ years of travel. And you’re 100% right about Mauchmood, my friend. There is NO WAY we would have gotten out if it wasn’t for him. Big hugs to you and Col. C U soon! – J

  • Merle
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    I think what stood out to me most was your report of the exaggeration of the media. By its exaggeration, the media makes matters on a worldwide scale so much worse. Although the world is currently in a state of deep evil, the media sells fear, and that can never be a good thing.

    There you were, (along with many other tourists of course) living IN THE REAL EXPERIENCE, naturally desperate to protect human life, including your own and your family, while as you say the true situation was not what was being reported. How very much more trouble, hatred,misunderstanding and division of humanity is created on a worldwide basis through the sort of exaggeration to which you referred?

  • Kevin Rogers
    February 18, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing this amazing experience. These are critical times, indeed.

  • Emma Kay
    February 19, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Hi Jon & Missy,

    Quite an extraordinary tale you presented us with – thank you very much indeed and thank goodness you and your family as well as your friends made it home safely.

    Your account afforded us, your readers, with missing pieces of what I would call a kaleidoscopic view of the events surrounding the crumbling of the regime in Egypt. As with everything in life, depending on where one stands, there are different ways to present happenings as well as different ways to interpret them. Your contribution is most definitely an eye-opener in that it confirms how much the masses can be – in fact ARE – influenced by what they are presented with through media channels as well as officialdom.

    It must have been a harrowing experience, knowing and feeling the atmosphere around you explode into a veritable tsunami of violence; it happened so fast that the world was more or less caught by surprise when things started to go wrong in Egypt, as is sadly also the case now in other neighbouring states. For you and your family to be there, and as “luck” would have it be strategically positioned to witness the unfolding of events is surely an “historic” moment in your life. It could have gone wrong in many different ways, but thankfully it didn’t and as you so rightly pointed out, your driver Mahmood deserves much of the credit in that respect. His unwavering commitment and devotion to you and your family is a shining example of how people of different cultures can indeed cross that bridge of cultural difference and still be “human” and act as such, regardless of religion or creed. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people are prepared to judge others without really knowing them. Many of the prejudices in our world would simply be wiped off the face of the earth if we could live among those people we criticise and attack. Much of the blame as to the ‘why-is-this-so’ can sadly be laid at the door of our leaders, the very people whose responsibility it is to take care of our wellbeing. After all, we elected them (mostly) in so-called democratic procedures in which they pledged their life in the service of the people. A perfect showcase of “democracy means different things to different people”. But no matter how long a people may have been oppressed by its leaders, eventually the worm will turn.

    My husband and I led in many respects a similar life to you and Missy in that we also travelled extensively, always taking our offspring with us. We strongly believe that the world is our oyster and that the best education is obtained by widening one’s horizons – no better way to achieve this than through travelling and immersing oneself in the life and culture of foreign lands! We are retired now and have settled in Greece from where I have started to record happenings in our daily life in my fledgling website. Living here among the locals rather than the expat community means that we are very much part of the social unrest and simmering discontent that is rearing its head during these difficult economic times. However, that’s a diffferent story.

    May you both continue to uphold the values that shine through your tales and pursue that path in your life which affords us, your readers, that open window into the courtyard of our world.

    Once again, our appreciation and thanks for your contribution and exceptional photographs.

    Emma Kay
    http://www.emmakayonline.com

  • Cory Boatright
    February 19, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon and Missy,

    Ivy and I both attended your Lifebook program and it was big “game changer” for us. We both thought about you during the violence breakout. Lot of prayers sent your way. We’re so glad that you and your family made it out of there safe and sound. It is pretty sad to see the violence and anger erupt like a volcano. It goes to show you just how much people need positive leadership and empowerment. The lack thereof is a recipe for a disaster and potentially one in epic size.

    Again… so glad you guys are OK. Lot’s of prayers sent your way.

    Remember… be a servant,

    Cory Boatright

  • Ray Squirrell
    February 19, 2011
    12:10 pm

    A mutual friend pointed me to your blog. Having been in Egypt and of course Cairo,
    with my wife and two daughters, in the earlier part of Mubarak’s regime, I have been
    following the news through the entire amazing event. From a Canadian point of view
    I must tell you that it has been frustrating and very annoying to experience the political
    agenda of both Canada and the U.S.A. in this situation. I got so tired of the twisted
    sensationalism of CNN type reports, I resorted to Al Jazeera English, to get more accuracy. It has been most satisfying to read, your on the spot, reporting of reality.
    I am very happy for all Egyptians and for what may be ahead for them. The excellent story of your experiences and successful escape from the chaos and confusion is
    both exciting and accurately detailed. Thank you for telling the World with intimate personal details and awesome photos. One shot shows the Sheraton Hotel we stayed at on the other side of the river. I will continue to follow you.

  • Jessica Dietrich-Marsh
    February 19, 2011
    12:10 pm

    What great pictures- amazing to see the progress the people made in such a short time (although I know in their lives this has taken a lifetime to create). What a fascinating chain of events that is bringing courage to all the other countries as well. So glad the next revolt waited for you to be safely out of their country!

    Thanks for your insight –

    Jade thank you for your post- I have children your age and we often discuss travel, friends and experiences- mine what more travel- haha!!

  • Teddy Garcia
    February 19, 2011
    12:10 pm

    First of all let me start by saying how glad I am that you guys are alright.

    Your strength and courage throughout this whole ordeal was truly inspiring and clearly illustrates the amazing man you truly are.

    The text message between you and Missy showing just how tight your relationship is and how quickly you would both die for each other… Amazing.

    Like others have mentioned, it seems to me that this is just the start of a wave of revolutions to come. Not only in the Middle East but also right here at home as we’re now seeing in Madison, WI

    Being of Cuban descent, I’ve been raised my whole life on stories of communist oppression. I hope to God the young people in Cuba stage a similar revolt for freedom and re-connection with the rest of the world someday soon.

    To me what’s amazing about all this is that it’s all being made possible because of the web. Facebook, Twitter. YouTube, SayNow and other services will eventually make main stream media somewhat irrelevant. Just the fact that even Meet The Press is showing Tweetdeck streams as illustration of how powerful these movements are is proof that the power is no longer in their hands.

    The ability for like minded people to easily find one another, organize, communicate and take action is clearly the most powerful factor in these revolutions. As it is now almost impossible for any government to silence it’s citizens and prevent them for collaborating – the power is now in the hands of the people. And since people naturally want to be free, even if they’ve never experienced that, I believe we’re going to see a lot of turmoil in the next year worldwide.

    Now whether all this coincides with all the 2012 prophecies or not remains to be seen but it does make you wonder…. Have we just entered an age where the world as we know it will never be the same? I think so… The “Age of Uprising” has begun and I’m really excited and worried at the same time..

    Thanks again for sharing your story and sparking this conversation Jon. I hope the rest of your travels are much safer and a little more relaxing and I really look forward to finally meeting you and Missy once your back home safe and sound.

  • Katrina
    February 19, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Wow! Thanks for this first hand account. I don’t watch the news, so this was really the only perspective I’ve gotten on such an important event. I really appreciate having your views, and your willingness to share your personal experience. I’m glad your family is safe!

  • Anthony
    February 19, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon & Missy, what an incredible journey, experiencing history being made. You had me hanging on every word.
    I have a young family as well – it must have been so frightening for you all.
    Thank you for sharing such an amazing story and I am glad you are all safe!
    Regards
    Anthony

  • David Sharp
    February 20, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Wow that certainly slowed my Sunday morning down a bit.
    Thank you for telling your story, it was very emotional and had it been a novel it would have been a good one. As an English couple living in Crete with a huge fondness for Egypt we found it very hard to get an accurate picture of what was going on. So thanks for your report.

    I agree with you entirely and believe that people the world over are basically the same and just want to live their lives and raise their families in peace and in reasonable comfort.

    David

  • admin
    February 20, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Wish I could respond to all these awesome comments! :-)

    One topic that keeps coming up again and again is the media coverage of this event… Here’s what Merle said: “I think what stood out to me most was your report of the exaggeration of the media. By its exaggeration, the media makes matters on a worldwide scale so much worse… The media sells fear, and that can never be a good thing.”

    That’s probably what stands out most for me too…

    It was such a unique perspective to be “living inside a news story”. By that I mean, we’re watching CNN when there’s a HUGE explosion that rocks our hotel room. We run to the window and see that 2 armored vehicles have exploded on the bridge below us… About a minute later, we’re watching it on TV (though we have a better view out our window) and hearing what CNN was saying about it…

    And more often than not during that week, what they SAID was not what we were SEEING…

    I was in the streets every single day, watching what was happening first hand and talking to people in an attempt to better understand the situation we were in. There was NO talk of the Muslim Brotherhood. No talk of religion at all. No talk of “America’s role” in the revolution. No talk of America’s support of the Mubarik regime…

    Our ONLY source of information was CNN and BBC (they even blacked out Al Jazeera) and CNN clearly had their own agenda – trying their best to make this about America, Islam and all the things I mentioned above with slanted questions in just about every interview, when it was so clearly NOT about those things. But they just kept pounding away and pounding away…

    And here’s the crazy thing; By Day 4, banners and signs began to appear in the streets IN ENGLISH that reflected what CNN worked so hard to pitch “America, stop supporting Mubarik” etc. because CNN and BBC were the only sources of news the Egyptian people had too…

    At that point I felt that CNN wasn’t REPORTING events, they were INCITING and CREATING events. So weird…

    What should all understand is that the news is a PRODUCT. CNN competes with MSN, competes with ABC, competes with Fox News… So the more sensational, the gorier, the more outrageous, the scarier the better – right? We’re drawn to that sh*t like the ancient Romans were drawn to the colosseum to watch people cut each other to pieces. Just look at the headlines we read every day… Do we really need to know about a bus crash in southern Argentina, and a kidnapping in Anguilla, and every possible human disaster that befalls anyone anywhere on the globe? Is that really news? Isn’t there any GOOD STUFF happening anywhere?

    It creates a fear based society, which is exactly what I think America has turned into. It’s hard to think of us as “The Land of the Brave” anymore.

    I came out of the Egypt experience even more resolute in my conviction that the news is toxic, mostly irrelevant to my life and should be avoided at all costs for my intellectual, emotional and psychological well-being.

    That being said, we were glued to CNN every day in Cairo… Crazy stuff. :-)

  • admin
    February 20, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Another topic that has been referred to often in these comments is the importance and immense benefits of world travel – and how American’s just don’t do enough of it…

    It’s not always easy. And it’s not always fun. The Cairo Experience was not necessarily enjoyable, but Missy and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We learned SO MUCH. We grew as individuals and a couple. We fought a serious battle and won. It made us better, smarter people. Challenging trips ALWAYS make you smarter…

    I wrote a cool post on the subject a while back, called “Why Travel Makes You Smarter” Feel free to check it out here if you’re interested:

    http://mylifebook.com/blog/?p=722#more-722

    I wrote a very cool post listing our favorite trips EVER; our strangest, our most romantic, most challenging, most exotic… I think you’ll really enjoy this one:

    http://mylifebook.com/blog/?p=1805#more-1805

    Have fun!

  • Alba Bejarano
    February 20, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Dear Jon and Missy
    Your story is an incredible example of courage , faith and love. It touched my heart and I was happy to read the final result of this odyssey. I have no doubt that God is always with you and protected you and your family because you are a person of humanity and integrity .
    When I saw the news I was very sorry for all that people and their families, their kids and all that horror and I prayed for all of them. I did not have idea you were there when this happened.
    I truly believe that love was what moved you to go through all this life experience and find the way to get your family and friend out of this nightmare .
    I can see clearly ,Jon, what you meant when you said that Missy and you are an unshakable team . Love was the force that saved you .
    From your experience I have a great lesson of courage and gratitude . We are blessed because we have a life style that thousands of people cannot even imagine to have, we are blessed because we live a peaceful life and we can make our own choices and take control of our own destiny and build it.
    Thanks you Jon and Missy for sharing this extraordinary experience. God bless you over and over again.
    Love, Alba

  • Heather Rice
    February 20, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Whoa! What a story!

    Hearing your blow by blow was like a déjà vu experience of my time in China in 1989. But back then there were no cell phones, digital cameras or internet.

    I had been living in Beijing for 6 months when the students started a peaceful demonstration following the death of a Chinese elder who was greatly loved by the people.

    It gathered momentum as a rally for democracy and was a very exciting time to be living there and witnessing the unfolding events.

    I was there representing Life Chiropractic College introducing chiropractic to China and opening its first chiropractic clinic. At that very moment, two friends from Holland were visiting and I was delighted to show them my favorite places around the city.

    Accompanied by my Chinese friend, we would go down to Tienanmen Square where the students continued their peaceful demonstration. The public remarked on how orderly the students kept the city in spite of the demonstration. Their spirit seemed to cause fewer traffic jams and more kindness and respect. Bicycle road rage was even declining.

    On one occasion, I paused in our walk through the crowd and was quickly surrounded by students who eagerly drilled me on how democracy worked in my country. Thank goodness I had paid attention in high school civics class. I remember the feeling of the pressure of their bodies leaning in against me to hear my explanations, like some kind of slowly moving mosh pit. Not claustrophobic or threatening but the dropping of cultural boundaries into pure humanity.

    Another time a young reporter cornered me to ask if I had any advice for the students. I replied that I thought that they should continue in a peaceful persistence to reach their goal.

    As momentum grew and students from all over the country continued to arrive, setting up tent cities in the square with equipment donated by foreigners who were expressing there solidarity, there also came truckloads of workers. One worker pointedly stopped me to tell me that the students had done their part to initiate the movement but the workers were now here to take it to the next level and they were ready to shed their blood if needed. By this time the government had started to send in troops who waited for orders to suppress the uprising, parking their trucks and tanks outside the ring road that surrounded the city center and led to Tienanmen Square.

    By the next day, the tide had started to turn. During the night a military jeep had hit a pedestrian. The government claimed it was driven by foreign journalists, but the students had roped off the scene of the crime and painted the place where the body had lain. On display were a bottle of booze and some biscuits only available to military personnel. The students had written in paint “Here is the evidence, you decide what is true”

    As we made our way down toward the square we were met by a stream of people leaving the area warning us not to go further as violence had erupted initiated by the military. We saw people bloodied and wounded and even heard reports of a pregnant woman being injured by a teargas bomb.

    I decided it would be best to avoid Tienanmen Square and the ring road. Since we lived inside the ring road near the Imperial Palace, I knew of a small alley we could take to get back. As we turned to go up the alley we were met by a military troop, six soldiers across, row after row pouring into the square. The strange thing was that they were unarmed. Well, after the mornings assault, the demonstrators were angry and tore the troop apart. Now the government had all the evidence they needed that these hooligans needed to be suppressed to keep the people safe.

    I realized that it would be best not to be caught inside the ring road if the tanks started to move, so we went to some Canadian friends who lived in a tall apartment building just outside of the ring road. They had TV’s with CNN reporting the events. The Chinese government TV reports were that everything was fine. My friends worked for Hewlitt-Packard and were given airline tix to Hong Kong/ Singapore/ Taiwan for each day with the option to go if they wanted to. They had decided to stay for now.

    My Chinese friend went out to the nearby college where the students had taken over the loud speaker and were reporting the events as they occurred. He would return with updates to supplement the CNN reports. We also simply looked out the window to watch the events unfold in the streets and alleys below us.

    It was fascinating to see how communication really worked without telephones or TV. One person coming from the college or the square would encounter a small group of folks under a street lamp. After sharing the news, this small group dispersed to other streetlamp groups gathered to hear the news they had to share. It was like a human nervous system spreading information across a network of neighbors. We also witnessed carts of bodies coming from the square disappearing into the small family compounds off the alleys. Would these make it into the official casualty statistics? Probably not.

    We saw military vehicles slowly moving toward the city, as local folks crowded around the truckloads of soldiers begging them to stop and defend the people, not harm them. There were reports of grandmothers lying down in front of truckloads of soldiers and the now famous scene of the lone man confronting a tank that tried in vain to go around him and simply stopped.

    I called my mom to tell her I was safe. Within a few minutes after my call no more connections could be made outside the country. During the night the factions of the army began to be in conflict. Some were supporting the people, some loyal to the government. Just below us there was a military jeep that was driven by a commander who fired on another commander to stop him from proceeding toward the square. We saw his vehicle all burned out the next morning.

    By daybreak, my friends were now ordered to evacuate. They gave us their unused tix for Hong Kong for the following day and left for Singapore. I called my colleague who was still inside the ring road at our residence and told him to grab my passport, money and journal from my room and come as fast as he could. With an apparent civil war breaking out our protective status as foreigners may not be noticed anymore in the chaos. It was time for us to get out of there too. He made it across the ring road safely and we went to the airport. We left everything behind not knowing if we would ever return and what we would be coming back to if we did. It immediately brought home to me what I valued most. It wasn’t things. It was life experiences and relationships. I worried about my Chinese friends I was leaving behind.

    It was mayhem at the airport. The place was filled with long lines of stressed foreigners being checked in by weary Chinese staff. The Chinese people don’t hold the concept of queuing up in their worldview. I thought a German guy was going to take the head off a Chinese man who jumped the queue in front of him. In the hours that we waited in line I worried that the tickets would not be honored since they weren’t in our name. When we finally reached the counter, we had nothing to concern us. They wanted to get us out of there and did everything they could to help.

    Before boarding the plane an Australian reporter asked me to carry film footage to Hong Kong for him. His colleague would receive it upon our arrival. I was more than willing to help.

    We stayed with friends in Hong Kong for 3 weeks. There was a goddess of democracy erected in Hong Kong to express solidarity for their Mainland Chinese compatriots. We frequently inquired with the US Embassy about the safety status for returning to Beijing. Finally we just called our Chinese friends and they assured us that martial law had made everything safe. We returned immediately to find all of our things undisturbed except for my bicycle, which had been stolen. I hoped that it had been put to good use.

    I left Asia 1 ½ years later taking the Trans-Siberian Railroad across the USSR. It was the time when they were transitioning their country through perestroika. I remember hearing Gorbachev saying, “We are learning democracy” I arrived in Berlin 3 days after Germany reunited. The polish soldiers on the train at the border seemed awkward in their new role. I visited the Berlin wall, which had been torn down since my last visit.

    I remembered the words of my Chinese friend “ The world is changing fast”

    Recently I heard that in the year 1848, there were many revolutions in Europe. Perhaps revolution has its own cycle in the cosmic unconsciousness. Are the slate of uprisings happening right now simply due to the internet or is it the rhythm of the indomitable spirit of humanity expressing itself?

    My experience in China was pivotal for me. Although my photos are on slides in my basement, my memory of it is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. I treasure it and feel extremely grateful to have witnessed it first hand. I remember feeling tremendous awe during my experience, but not much fear. I think I would have had more fear if I was my mother watching it from afar, powerless to protect my family than just being right in the thick of it and experiencing it authentically.

    I never watch TV or read newspapers. I occasionally listen to NPR. I trust first hand accounts and my own intuition. Since my experience in China I have never taken for granted the freedoms we have in this country. It greatly concerns me to watch those freedoms being threatened by our own government’s policies.

    I thoroughly enjoyed hearing your experience and Jade’s thoughts as well. I would very much like to hear Missy’s experience as a mother in this adventure, too.

    Holding it all in the Light,
    Heather in Vermont

  • Hal Betzold
    February 21, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for sharing that incredible story, it was very inspiring to
    hear how you guys kept your heads in such a dicey and dangerous
    situation. As I read your detailed account, I couldn’t help but get
    caught up in the emotion and the historical importance of such an
    event. It must have been an amazing thing to actually experience the
    beginning of a revolution. To be caught up in a historical event like
    that is truly an amazing thing.

    On a personal note, I was inspired and moved by the courage and
    determination that both you and Missy displayed while doing whatever
    it took to keep your family safe. In one part of your narrative you
    give a white knuckled and gripping account of the text messages that
    were sent back and forth between you and Missy at a very crucial and
    dangerous part of your journey.

    I was deeply moved by your words “I want to fight for you” and
    couldn’t help but think about a crisis situation that my family is
    facing. Beau, my 15-year old autistic son has recently taken a
    downward turn medically. Along with Beau’s autism, he has always had
    severe G.I. issues. Recently the intense pain that comes along with
    the inflammation of his G.I. tract has caused Beau to become self
    injurious. In response to the pain Beau will hit his head or bite his
    arms and hands, if the the pain becomes intense enough Beau will lash
    out at family members, usually trying to pinch, hit or bite. This
    type of behavior, unfortunately, is pretty common in children with
    severe autism G.I.- related issues. Just as children suffering from
    intense emotional pain can engage in self injurious behavior, such as
    cutting themselves, autistic children similarly can abuse themselves
    to try to escape from, or feel something other than the G.I. pain
    they are all too familiar with.

    As you can imagine, a parents worst nightmare. We have been currently
    managing Beau’s pain with different drugs with limited success. We
    recently ended up at Children’s Memorial Hospital with Beau for a
    week because his bowels shut down, causing him severe pain. Beau
    became so self injurious that we had to call the fire department to
    get him to the hospital, five firefighters and myself had to secure
    Beau to a gurney to get him into the ambulance and transported to the
    ER. For most of his hospital stay he had to be restrained to prevent
    him from hurting himself.

    It’s a new and scary chapter for my family, and we are trying to deal
    with it in the best way that we possibly can. So, I wanted to thank
    you for sharing your story and inspiring me to keep fighting for my
    family and to do whatever it takes to make us all safe. My hope is
    that Linda and I will face our crisis with as much courage, strength
    and dignity as you and Missy did in Cairo.

    Due to recent events, a scheduled medical trip to see Beau’s
    neurologist in Houston has been moved to as soon as possible. I am in the
    process of assembling images and thoughts for my lifebook that will
    reflect the total transformation and healing that Beau and my family
    are going to experience in the near future. This trip to Houston will
    be the beginning or the seeds of Beau’s recovery. I see my happy
    healthy boy, free of pain and living the life of his dreams. I will
    settle for nothing less.

    As a nation that’s facing a generation of lost children, the rate of
    autism is now at a staggering 1 out of every 110 children, according to the CDC.
    We collectively need to demand answers from our nations leaders and
    find a way to help these children and their families. We need to get
    to the bottom of why we are in the midst of an autism epidemic and
    how can we protect other children from this modern day plague. We
    can’t afford to settle for anything less.

    Thanks again, Jon.

  • Dianne
    February 21, 2011
    12:10 pm

    God Bless you All…thank-you for sharing history in the making. Very glad you are all safe.
    I pray the rest of your trip will be relaxing.
    I hope everyone at Ferson takes the time to read this amazing first hand historical experience.

  • Sharona
    February 24, 2011
    12:10 pm

    WOW ! Thank you Jon for sharing. I could feel (as much as possible) that I was there with you experiencing it all.
    It is pretty amazing when you are part of history in the making . Witnessing a country fighting for their rights.
    I do not watch the news, but read online what was going there. You are right, our news here just keeps repeating 24/7 and not saying anything important. I am an Israeli who grew up as an Israeli diplomat in Europe and Israel up till age 12, when we then immigrated to the States .
    I always wondered why the arab countries didn’t fight for their rights.
    Thanks again, and glad your family, friends and you are all safe…….sharona

  • Missy B
    March 9, 2011
    12:10 pm

    I’ve very much enjoyed reading all the Lotus Revolution comments. Thank you, everyone, for your support and interesting points of view!

    In response to Heather’s request, I wanted to share a some thoughts from my perspective as a mom going through that intense experience with my kids…

    I think that having a seriously solid foundational base of self esteem (having the knowing that you are fully capable to deal with the challenges of life) is a game changer is a situation like this. While it was definitely much more intense having our 2 youngest children with us, Jon and I both knew we would make the right choices and get out safely – we completely trust our own judgment. I also am very grateful for our extensive travel experience… There is no doubt the knowledge we have gained from being all over the world gave us even more confidence to cope with this situation.

    Jon and I were surprised at how exhausted we were for about a week after we got out of Cairo. We all slept for about 14 hours the very next day. We quickly realized how much energy it took to manage the stress of it only after we got out. Jon and I were solely focused on the best and safest way for our little family to maneuver our exit and not even feeling the amount of stress we were under.

    Jade, age 10 and Justin, age 6 (our two youngest children), who are world travelers as well, learned a great deal about freedom and the idea of government – which was an excellent by product of their Cairo Experience, not to mention what an excellent report they will be able to share with their class upon our return! :)

    I feel like the whole revolution experience heightened their awareness of everything going on around them. Even though it was a very edgy time, they we intensely interested and hung right in there with us grown ups. I’m very proud of the way they handled the whole situation and they seem to be processing it well too.

    The only thing going on with them since we left Cairo is that they have both wanted to stay very close to us especially at night and especially Jade. She has had a really hard time sleeping away from us, even if it’s just in the next room, so we’ve accommodated that over the last few weeks. There’s certainly nothing wrong with them feeling that way after what those little kiddos experienced. I think the worst part for them was seeing Jon and I a bit worried and intense… And the airport was a bit scary/crazy too.

    In any case, this extreme situation we lived through made our little family unit (and all of it individuals) all the stronger and tighter. So for that I am very grateful.

    Thank you all again for being such a COOL, SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY!

    – Missy

  • Fatma
    March 31, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Hello John and family,

    I am Fatma from Egypt, I found your website through Facebook. It is an amazing story. And I am really feeling sorry that I couldn’t get to Tahrir Square at that time, but my family were so worried about me that they did not allow me to go.

    And also thank you everyone for your great comments about what had happened. I am really proud to be an Egyptian and you made me feel more proud by sharing this story and these magnificent comments on it and the incrediable pictures too as well.

    Best ragrds to all of you from Egypt !
    Have a nice day and a great days ahead
    Always bee happy :)
    Yours
    Fatma

  • Darin Wilson
    April 9, 2011
    12:10 pm

    Jon, thank you for the very good account and history lesson from a first hand perspective. I fully agree with you about the media. Throughout my career as an Army Officer I’ve had a few similar experiences where I was part of the world stage. At the time I really didn’t know it. However, as we would get bits and pieces of news and coverage, it was not at all what was really happening. I’ve had personal accounts with reporters from AP, Reuters, and of course Geraldo. I will never again trust any of them, and yes, they sell fear, controversy, and stretch the truth.

    Thanks again, and We’re glad you and your family are safe.

  • Da Riaz
    October 13, 2012
    12:10 pm

    Hi Jon, nice to find your story it’s such a beautiful story. Btw i still live in Cairo till right now. And when “this lotus revolution”‘s happening i saw it with my own eyes. So, You and I have some common experiences.

    *That pyramids image is very wonderful. May i use it for my FB cover anyway? Thank’s Jon

  • Luke Cowart
    February 25, 2017
    12:10 pm

    Amazing story of courage and family Mr. Butcher!

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