Houston, I Need an Assist!

  So we’re taking photos of the broken windows, burnt cars and tanks in front of the Ministry of the Interior, when these army guys come sauntering over. Hands out,...

 

So we’re taking photos of the broken windows, burnt cars and tanks in front of the Ministry of the Interior, when these army guys come sauntering over.

Hands out, they want our cameras.

And oh wow, howdy-doody, do pump-action shotguns make you jump.

People are stopping to watch.

We get frog-marched back through the road-block, fencing and barbed wire.

OMG yikes, now we were going to get it!

They take us to the street-side command post and their leader—big guy, little table, lots of chairs, listening circle—who gestures (universal circle motion) for us to scroll through the pics.

Oh man, this is bad.  There she is.  Caught, again and again, and again, and again, posing against one burnt-out car after another.  (Also, a few shots of them smoking and leaning against the tanks.)

Now they want our passports. Uh-oh.

Jeez, all those overstayed visas.  Another! Another! And another!  How to explain…such laziness?

At this point, Georgia, losing her nerve, squeaks: “We’re journalists!”

Thank god, Colleen is cooler.  “No, no,” she shouts, enunciating clearly: “Tourists! We’re tourists!  WE LOVE EGYPT!

Silence.

Seems like it could go either way.  We try to look dumb, as if it’s possible to look any dumber.

One shakes his head.  Another says something in Arabic that translates loosely as:  ”It’s normal.”

Boss man shrugs.  Big smiles all around.  Maybe the tourist thing did the trick.  He snaps his fingers.

What does this mean?  What’s going to happen?

We’re dismissed.

Is that all?  Is that it?

And marched back through the fence, with a couple of our escorts, whispering, “Sorry, sorry, so sorry.”

And dang, the crowd, bored, is beginning to leave.

As for the dramatic footage of–Army guys! Tanks! Ministry of the Interior!–to share with you all: erased.

About Colleen Gillard and Georgia Wells

Covering the events in Cairo after the Jan. 25 revolution and following elections.