EVACUATE! EVACUATE!

The hubby came home the other night with his company’s new evacuation plan. Brand spanking new, updated and tweaked following consideration of “lessons learnt” from the last fiasco. Whomever compiled it must be living in some parallel universe that I’m not aware of, they sure as hell aren’t living in the Egypt I Know. As to why we may need an evacuation plan and for any of you who have been living in a bubble here is what it’s all about

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Basically this campaign called Tamarod or Rebel wants President Morsi to go, they claim to have millions of signatures which they plan to use to oust him, not exactly sure how they are going to do that, not so sure they know either, I’m not convinced planning ahead is an Egyptian strong point. These forms are every where, I couldn’t sign you have to be an Egyptian, but look even the police are at it

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Before I regale you with the inherent flaws in the plan I should state that I have no bloody intention of going anywhere. I will be staying put in Maadi, most probably in the BCA or the ACE Club, probably a little combination of both. Within these little expat oasis I shall find solace, drown my sorrows, listen and contribute to conversations regarding the state of the nation, yes basically talk crap with other like minded souls.

Back to the plan, it started off rather well, upon receiving a phone call from the “Marshal” you and your family should move to the JW Marriott beside the airport. They had even considered the eventuality of the mobile phone services being cut again and had collated everyone’s landline numbers. After that it completely fell to pieces….

Once everyone is assembled in the Marriott and the Marshal considers there is a need to evacuate then we…….hold on hold on, some employees had questions. Do we have rooms booked in the Hotel? No, no we will just meet in the lobby, but how long do we have to wait in the lobby? Until the Marshal decides its time to evacuate. But that could be days no?……….see what I mean about planning.

Three methods of evacuation are available, by land, Sea and Air states the plan. By using the land route you will drive to Suez, go through the tunnel to Sinai and drive to Taba, then cross into Israel……There are a few fundamental flaws in this….

The Government has announced the tunnel will be closed being a major one….perhaps they have arranged a ferry to take us and the car across, oh no silly me the government has announced the Suez Canal will be closed to all shipping. Do these people not read the news! Let’s assume we are whisked across by helicopter, car hanging below in some cradle attachment type thing. Easy peasy from there then?

Eh well no not really, here’s the travel warning for Egypts Sinai,

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you see that big red bit at the top which corresponds to the “Do Not Travel” warning, well that’s the way they want us to go. Assuming we make our way to Taba, we have to pass the Bedouin and Jihadists with out being kidnapped or carjacked , or quite possibly even shot……this travel warning is there for a reason and I can’t see any of the Embassies doing anything much if we ignore it. What exactly we would do in Israel was not clarified either……

Plan B is by sea from Suez, fundamental flaw here too…..Suez only carries Cargo not passengers. I googled “Suez Passenger Ferry ” I discovered that vital piece of information in about 2 seconds, such a lot of research has gone into this “plan”. Whilst I was at it I thought I would google Alexandria, and Port Said here’s what I got

“Alexandria and Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, and Suez and Nuweiba on the Red Sea are ports of entry for visitors, but as a result of political unrest in the Middle East we have suspended our ferry booking service to Egypt. Please check with your travel agent or directly with the following operators for available ferry travel from Europe to Egypt:”

Guess those options are out the window too………..

Plan C by Air, this one obviously would be the preferred route, except some people had questions on this one too. Where will we be flying to, being the most obvious. Dubai of course was the answer, bit of a bummer considering various nationalities require visas for Dubai. Now I’m not saying the organisers of the “plan” are incompetent but knowing the nationalities of your employees, most of which have been here for years is most definitely a prerequisite before deciding where you may send them. Apparently visas are now being requested from the various embassies.

According to the plan we make our way to the airport, go to the check-in counter and ask for a ticket to Dubai. There you go, and that’s about the height of it. Never mind the fact that all the flights are fully booked, that the oil companies have reserved all possible seats for their employees should they need them. Oh and having possibly spent a few smelly days and nights in the lobby of the Marriott we will probably have to do the same in the airport. That is off course should we even manage to get into the airport past the queues of people who actually effing have tickets.

A rather senior employee, a director in fact, partner of my book club buddy apparently got rather enraged at this stage of proceedings and demanded that they basically catch themselves on and charter a plane, quite right too. Last time we managed to piggy back on one chartered by a sister company who actually appear to have a functioning HR department, I’m thinking that no matter what our “plan” may be quite a few employees will jump on board their plane this time too.

The best part, for me anyway, was a little innocuous line that stated….Pack a small bag with enough for two days and your luggage will follow within 48hours….yeah right. Follow where? Who is going to collect our luggage from our homes, are they going to charter a plane or helicopter to deliver it to where ever we end up, oh and while we are at it will they bring our dogs, cats and assorted menagerie of animals too? What will these animals do in the meantime whilst we are camped out in the Marriott lobby. Bearing in mind that Egyptians have an inherent fear of dogs and they are considered Haram in Islam I can’t see them being a priority.

Following the meeting to discuss the plan, which obviously didn’t pan out too well our drivers were called the next day to another meeting to let them know what their responsibilities are. Whomever devised our “plan” is most definitely not in contact with the whomever devised the drivers plan. According to my driver we are to leave with one large bottle of water only. No bags, and our drivers are to be perched outside our home on Saturday morning awaiting the call to Evacuate, Evacuate. they received no instructions regarding the 48 hour luggage delivery either.

Since I have no intention of going anywhere or putting myself through the Marriott experience, nor the helicopter and Sinai experience I have told my driver Hossam to have a lie in. I am however unintentionally prepared. My sons birthday is this weekend and he is having a “uniform” theme. Quite easily, and in fact rather scarily I nipped out and managed to get him an Egyptian police mans outfit no problem at all. I went for the all white summer version, epaulettes, cap, badges, even a holster for his gun. Our driver is delivering the gun tonight and I’m rather excited because of course as its Egypt it will most probably be a real one, apparently he has a friend who supplies this type of accessory and he is bringing me a taser too.

If it all goes pear shaped I will station him outside in full uniform, although as his hair is red at the moment he may not be completely convincing. I shall then follow the proceedings on twitter and if the power goes out nip down to the ACE for some liquid refreshment, which to me is an altogether better “plan”

UPDATE

It appears someone in our fabulous HR department has realised the Suez tunnel will be closed therefore making our exit by land to Israel via Taba rather difficult. They have updated our route accordingly and we are now to exit Egypt through the border with Libya…….WTF. Here is the travel advice for Libya

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Tripoli, Zuwara, Az Zawiya, al Khums, Zlitan and Misrata, and to the coastal towns from Ras Lanuf to the Egyptian Border, with the exception of Benghazi. The FCO advise against all travel to all other parts of Libya, including Benghazi.

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Looks like we will be needing that helicopter again, no scratch that personally I would prefer a Tardis, evacuating by Tardis makes much more sense than this bloody plan.

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13 thoughts on “EVACUATE! EVACUATE!

  1. Mara says:

    I think your plan is the best one, Mairead! Must be some kind on LSD in the organisers’ drinking water 🙂

  2. Jane Akshar says:

    Last time the only evacuation was from Cairo, so what about the rest of the country? How were we supposed to get to Cairo? no answer to that.

    I am staying put in Luxor thank you very much, it was fine last time and I suspect it will be this time too. I accidentally drove through a demo on the way to the dentist in 2011, the scariest experience… root canal treatment. The demo was smiley faces and no problem

  3. barbara says:

    I might go to Jordan for three days and see what happens. I am an american living here with my egyptian husband. He wants to stay, I don’t want to be here if the internet goes out as I need it to work. I wasn’t here in 2011. How long did they cut the mobile phone lines for?

  4. maireadhoey says:

    You will be fine here, and I can’t see them cutting the Internet or phones again. That would be suicide with the international media. They only cut the phones for a day the last time as far as I can remember.

    • barbara says:

      Thank you so much for replying. I live in Los Angeles half the time, and I have an Egyptian friend there who is from Alexandria. He is telling me to get the hell out and saying it is going to be really bad this time. So he has me a little worried. I live in Giza, near the pyramids. This neighborhood is safe and I am not worried.
      I love reading your blog. How many years have you lived in Cairo?

  5. Mary Ellen says:

    I was here in 2011 and could call my family in the states with my cell phone. worst part about the revolution was how bored we were. So pent up! stuck home watching the news forever!

    • barbara says:

      Mary Ellen, where are you from? I don’t know any Americans over here except a girl that works in the embassy. I would love to meet some ex-pats but don’t know where to go

    • Janice says:

      I’ve been here 19 years…..during the last time, we sat on the bed, played scrabble and drank red wine, eating cheese and crackers. Losing communications was not good….a few days, but I guess we leaned from that and share landlines. The scariest part this time is the count down that’s going on, on Facebook! Last time is took us by surprise and we didn’t really appreciate the significance. Now people are seriously pissed off…… but we are here and going nowhere….at least not for a few weeks and then we were planning a short break in the UK as we do every year…. 🙂

  6. Andrew Reid says:

    I’m an expat working for a mostly Egyptian company here, and we’re still discussing whether we’ll come to work on 30/6! Certainly no evacuation plan. Basically our personal plan is have enough cash to buy plane tickets online to Amman, where we have friends we can stay with. Also, enough cash on hand in case ATMs run out (although HSBC were great at keeping their branch ATMs open during revolution) and a week’s groceries.
    As you note, so many of these evacuation plans or contingency plans are so silly – products of people living in parallel universes. It would be far more dangerous to travel on the Suez – Taba road (if the tunnel was open and you could get there) than to stay in your house in Maadi.
    Just a note on the 2011 revolution, mobile phones and internet were out for 5 days, but I doubt that will happen again, unless things get really hairy. Having landline numbers is a good idea.

    • barbara says:

      oh, that is so funny. I am a travel agent so I am holding space on jordanian air to fly to amman on june 28th. I am still debating whether to fly or not. I have friends in amman but they are going to be in turkey of all places for vacation. I can stay at the four seasons. what day would you fly? are you going to wait til 30.6 and see what happens?
      I have been hoarding cash too. I have usd, euros and egyptian pounds.
      but if you want to buy your tickets on a c..c just let me know and i can issue them for you. my email is barbaraetc@aol.com.

  7. I will be at home with my Egyptian husband not thinking of evacuating. Things will eventually die down and it will be safer to be by your home that trapsing about on da2ary. By the way – dogs aren’t haram. Most people say the Prophet only used them for hunting or guarding – not pets. There are only a few things which are actually technically haram.

  8. Carrie says:

    Thank you for a well needed laugh. No research at all wine into that plan. Ridiculous! If you are still here, be safe and god bless and protect Egypt!

  9. barbara says:

    Looks like things aren’t turning violent. I stayed.

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