We've run a few posts from Susan Johnson, a Pennsylvania grandmother who was invited to Gaza by two groups and has not been able to get in. Her latest, from Cairo:
I know it's a Friday because there were Friday Prayers and a sermon was booming from a loudspeaker...that only happens on Friday. It is now September 24th, I think.
and I am still sitting in my cheap little hotel. Time is moving slowly. There have been calls back and forth from the U.S. Embassy and from Gaza. I'm told The Egyptians won't answer their phones. The US Embassy and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry can not agree on a procedure for US citizens wanting to go to Gaza. The Egyptians will not agree to let me go to Gaza using the old procedure. There is no procedure right now....it's being negotiated. I'm also told the Egyptians won't answer their phone.
Yolanda turns me over to her assistant Ann...I know it's not a good sign to be passed on to an assistant. I decide I must win Ann's interest and commitment, have her decide she's going to devote herself to getting me into Gaza....."Susan I'm trying they don't answer the phone....I am so sorry I don't have any thing to tell you. I'll get back to you with good news before the end of the day."
The day ends and I haven't heard from Ann with good or bad news.
I call Yolanda the next morning...
Ann didn't find out any thing? She didn't get back to you? "Let me talk to..." I think she says her boss. When she returns the tone of her voice has changed "...Susan, this could take weeks to resolve...I don't want to give you false hope..We are negotiating a new procedure...the Egyptians aren't answering their phone...."
There is a question running around in my head, "where does the information come from? The Egyptians won't answer their phones; fact or fiction?" They must be communicating...maybe by email?
I try calling the Egyptian Ministry's man responsible for Palestinian Affairs...no answer....no answer..... And I'm surprised Palestinians are having affairs...and what's an Egyptian doing in charge of them...I apologize, I couldn't resist. If I lose my sense of humor, warped as it is, I'm sunk. I call a few times more and discover the Egyptians aren't answering their phones.
I am sighing....Yolanda, maybe you should try using another phone. They may have caller ID...see it's you calling and not answer. Why not try another phone....What Susan? Another phone? oh, like a cell phone. Oh!
Why don't they look for other solutions? Changing phones could be a good idea; it's worth a try. What about going to the Foreign Ministry on an errand...or appointment..and then stop by the office of the Palestinian Affairs man ...you just happened to be in the neighborhood.
Those in Gaza have contacted everyone they can think of and run out of people to call. We have difficulty remaining cheerful; encouraging each other; maintaining a positive attitude.....actually we aren't maintaining positive attitudes...we're putting up good fronts...wearing masks...speaking in tongues. They have so many things to juggle, problems to solve, situations to work around....I wanted to be a help....not another problem.
I email them and don't receive replies....why don't they email....we keep having power cuts.... it's best to text, use your mobile. I sigh...tell myself I can do it.
I hate trying to send text messages. They take me forever....become lost...I wipe them out.....Worse I send them quickly, in the heat of the moment...zoom...they arrive right away. I don't wait, re-read them as I should....my grand daughter and her new husband were insulted and angry by one such email...and they were completely justified.
I send my text messages to Gaza carefully watching each word ..don't want to cause those wonderful people even a tiny bit of concern....have them find out I'm so close to falling apart.
What would happened if I send text messages to the Embassy, Yolanda, Ann, even to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry....people love cell phones...stop what they are doing as soon as they ring...read the message...take the call. Maybe I could reach people right away...even the Egyptians. Wow! I have to be careful...not slam out a text in the heat of the moment.....they control Gaza's comings and goings. On second thought maybe I could scare them into sending me out of Egypt....send that wild woman to Gaza, it would serve her right.
Now...all I need are their cell phone numbers!