Egyptian Spring - Democracy, History, Freedom & Golf

Back in the waning years of the 20th century... long before I ever played golf...  I spent three months in Cairo, living in a suite at what was then called The Nile Hilton.

I had just gotten married and my new husband was in charge of "developing and emerging markets" at an international cosmetics company,  so I tend to remember Egypt as a kind of prolonged honeymoon.  The exoticism of the teaming city was amplified by the by the exciting strangeness I felt during the first weeks of weeks of marriage, as I adjusted to the quixotic idea that I was actually someone's wife.

The hotel was a powder blue, mid-century modern landmark just off Tahrir Square, right in the center of the city.  Our three room suite had a balcony with a stunning view of the Nile where we had croissants and pain aux raisins each morning and watched men in white robes prepare the sails on their ancient-looking feluccas.  My husband would then leave for work, venturing forth into the cacophonous gridlock that's as much a part of modern Cairo as the mighty river running through the city's center.

I spent most of my mornings by the swimming pool devouring Graham Greene novels.  There I'd meet eclectic travelers from all over the world, many of whom wouldn't have been at all out-of-place in the stories I was reading.

In the late afternoon, I'd often head next door to the extraordinary Cairo Museum.  That's when the crowds tended to lightened, leaving me to wander among the ancient sarcophagi and massive sculptures.  I spent hours perusing the breathtaking, solid gold treasures of Tutankhamen.  Not surprisingly, I quickly fell in love with Pharaonic history and Nubian art.

Almost every evening there would be social events or parties, often at the homes of the local people my husband had gotten to know as he worked to set up his operation, and this was the most interesting and inspiring thing about my stay in Egypt, because the Egyptian people are uniquely friendly and hospitable, they're often artistic, almost always funny and... remarkably patient.

Our Cairo honeymoon was 15 plus years ago (well before the age of instant global communication) in 1995.  Back then, Americans were just discovering email and most of the world knew nothing of the internet. It would be over a decade before anyone would write on a  Facebook wall, make a YouTube video or tweet on Twitter.

As the years have passed, we've shared snippets of our lives;  first it was via occasional cards and letters, then more frequently through email, and now it's almost daily, on Facebook and Twitter.  We've congratulated them on their promotions, marriages and new babies.  We've watched them wait patiently for much needed government reforms, unable to advocate for them, and unable to protest against abject corruption without fear of reprisal.  Then, a week ago, quite unexpectedly,  these patient people, people often characterized as passive, collectively took to the streets... and the social networks... to change their political system.

That's what's happening as we watch, and as chaotic and perilous as it seems right now, for virtually everyone we've spoken to these last days in Cairo... it's what has to happen.  what writer and political activist Alaa al-Aswany calls "the Egyptian Spring" a season that'll pave the way for transition, allow the people to choose their president and representatives in an open, honest elections and begin putting into place the democracy they've wanted for so long.  Once that happens we'll be able to help the new democracy by visiting their awesome museums and gorgeous golf courses.  I'm looking forward to that.