Across a continent and into the throngs of Egyptian revolt
Been on assignment at the bottom of Africa, so to get to Cairo I had to traverse the whole continent.
My connection in Johannesburg was cancelled, I think because it was due to land during the curfew. The only other option was to Dubai. The airport there never ceases to amaze me – even at 4:45am local the place is heaving with travellers, shopping, dropping, hopping from one plane to another.
Eight hours of Africa – Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, across the Red Sea to Yemen, Oman, and into Dubai. Flight to Cairo is four hours, stunningly most of it over Saudi Arabia: massive brown from the air, nobody there. One dusty desert settlement on the coast with telltale oil storage tanks on an island offshore – two red, one grey tanker tied up on the quayside.
The plane has a surprising number of people aboard. Egyptians coming home to rescue their money perhaps?
I wonder how I will get to my hotel when I land. Will they let me in to Egypt?
They do and suddenly I’m ploughing along empty streets from the airport, empty the decaying elegance of Cairo’s centre. The taxi smells of a classic mix of Brighton rock and overcooked barley sugar.
Then you hit it, the vast throng swarming the anyway sprawling Tahrir Square – down to business, Channel 4 News all too soon.