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Vacation to Egypt cut short by riots

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2011
exodus
SAFE NOW: Mary Upritchard, left, and Mary-Ann Vulinovich have a new appreciation of home after holidaying in Egypt

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Holiday-maker Mary Upritchard had to break curfew and wear a veil as a disguise to escape rioting in Egypt.

Her vacation with friends was cut short when they were evacuated last month.

The day things escalated she was warned by a tour guide to stay away from a routine protest and was told it would "blow over soon".

"But it didn't," the Beach Haven resident says.

In the days leading up to her escape she put aside part of her meals while on a cruise ship after hearing there was no food at Cairo airport and no access to eftpos.

She was prepared to take only her handbag after tourists were advised to leave their belongings behind if necessary.

By about the seventh day of rioting they made their escape from Aswan to a domestic airport in Luxor.

"Our tour guide had organised a van.

"We broke the curfew, got up early and had the van curtains closed and we were veiled up."

They were told to avoid crowded places and disguise themselves so they weren't targets for terrorists.

She says the New Zealand embassy staff were great to deal with despite negative press.

She and her friends were evacuated quickly.

Another woman at the church she attends on the Shore, Mary-Ann Vulinovich, was in Egypt months before the riots and was unprepared for what she saw.

She was pleased to see the people taking action after witnessing the far-reaching poverty.

"Driving to Cairo you could see the oppression," she says.

"There were magnificent resorts that were only half completed.

"The people were so fearful. The average person had one meal a day and women have a terrible time with a lack of jobs."

From the Rameses Hilton she could see cattle on rooftops because farmers couldn't afford land for grazing.

"Our tour guide said farmland was taken by the government," she says.

Both women are glad to be home after their experience.

Despite all that happened Ms Upritchard plans to one day go back.

"I count myself very, very lucky."

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- North Shore Times

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