Escape from Egypt

Egyptian anti-government demonstrators camp in front of an army tank in Tahrir square.

Just days into her Egyptian vacation, Brooklynite Savannah Helton, 26, walked among mummies in the Egypt National Museum. By the time she left, the mummies were beheaded by looters and she was escaping a country that she said “smelled like the Fourth of July” — remnants of tear gas and burning government buildings.

Four days after her return to New York City, she told Metro her story.

Helton and three friends arrived in Cairo on Jan. 22, traveling to see the pyramids. On the third day of their trip, the tour guide mentioned a “demonstration” was taking place.

“A ‘demonstration’ means you run around with a few signs for a few hours and then you go home,” said Helton, a Bay Ridge resident. “That’s not what happened.”

That demonstration continued for days, she recalled. Then, on Jan. 28, something changed. “From the balcony of the hotel, I could see tear gas being fired. We saw them carrying hurt people,”?she said. “The wind would pick up the tear gas and we’d have to run inside.”

Eventually, they fled to Sharm El Sheikh, spending the rest of their vacation days there — and $600 — booking a return flight that avoided Cairo.

“It was awesome to see people demanding that they be heard,” she said; but with looters and riot cops: “It was mayhem.” 



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