Greek Riots and Egyptian Revolution
I moved to Greece in January of 2012. My father is from Greece and I was moving there in attempts to receive my Greek citizenship. My boyfriend and I took up residency in a working class neighborhood called Kallithea, a neighborhood that is the most densely populated municipality in Greece. This area was strictly locals, so we stood out pretty drastically. Luckily my friend’s mother lived in the neighborhood, which came in handy, because she got us out of a couple predicaments we found ourselves in while living there.
The crisis was painfully evident. The neo-Nazi “Political Party” called Golden Dawn, had just been elected into parliament. They raked in over 400k votes, gaining them twenty-one seats out of the three hundred in parliament. As if that wasn’t enough, citizens were frequently committing suicide as an act of protest and possibly defeat. Syntagma Square, where the majority of the protests took place, was not too far from where we were living so we would see the aftermath daily. Seeing all the firebombed buildings, still smoldering, was really intense. All the monuments and statues had been defaced. There was glass from broken windows, covering the sidewalks. Streaks of soot marked the ground as a result of the molotov cocktails thrown at the police.
These people were fighting for their rights. They had been let down by their government and they did something about it. These people immediately had my respect after coming from America where complacency was the norm. Witnessing these riots heavily inspired me and still does till this day.
While living in Greece, we also traveled to Egypt early in 2012. At the time we were in the country, there was no government. It was a post-Mubarak Egypt and there were no rules. Many loved ones of mine weren’t too excited about me being there, but this was history being made and I felt compelled to follow my curiosity and experience it for myself. A massive shift in power was happening and I wanted to immerse myself in it as much as I could.
We spent the first week south of Cairo, in Luxor, sleeping in two separate twin beds. Hotel staff declared there must have been a “mistake” when they realized two men booked a room together with only one bed so we kept quiet and accepted the room change. Most of the time spent in Luxor was mostly typical tourist ventures, except, there were hardly any other tourists there. Egyptians we spoke with said that most people were too scared to come to Egypt. In 2010, before the revolution, Egypt had over 14 million visitors. That was reduced by thirty-seven percent in the following year. The majority of interactions we had were overwhelmingly positive as they were grateful for any tourism they could get.
We left Luxor, headed for Cairo, with two Bedouins we had been introduced to by our guide, driving west into the Sahara Desert. We drove for four days, stopping at night to set up camp in the desert. The most action we experienced on this leg of the trip, was when we passed through this small desert town in the middle of nowhere. The sun started to set as we sat down to eat at a small restaurant. It opened up to the street, where a group of locals had gathered. While we were eating, the group of guys started firing off rounds of their rifles into the air. The Bedouins we were with assured us that “It’s ok. They are just happy because they no longer have a government and now they are free.” This really resonated with me as I watched the children run out into the street to see who could pick up the most shell casings.
Once we arrived in Cairo, the lack of government was pretty apparent. Mounds of shredded garbage lined the highway. You would see donkeys lugging trailers full of the waste. Dumping the contents wherever they pleased. I believe they shredded the trash thinking it would make it easier to dispose of. However, when the wind picked up during sand storms, it would pick up the shredded trash and disperse it into the air. The level of pollution was heinous. The city looked as if it was literally falling apart. We found our way to downtown Cairo to go see Tahrir Square, also known as “Martyr Square”. It was occupied by a few tents, covered in graffiti and 10–15 people just sitting in the dirt. Afterwards we walked past Mubarak’s political party building. One month prior to our time in Cairo, protesters torched the National Democratic Party’s landmark building. A charred reminder of the revolutionaries’ triumph. A testament to their struggle.
The experiences I had in Greece and Egypt changed my life and perspective on our society. The American media has drastically downplayed the events in both of these countries. In some weird way, that made me feel somewhat responsible to tell my story to as many people as possible. I want everyone to understand that it is not my intention to push any sort of political agenda with this song or post. My intention is nothing but to tell my story and make people think about what is happening in the world we live in.