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SoCal couple describes harrowing Egypt trip

February 1, 2011 12:40:43 AM PST
A Southern California couple that just returned from a vacation in Egypt spoke about how their trip took an unexpected turn.

Robert and Marla Green's trip to Cairo started peacefully.

"It was my dad's favorite place to travel in the whole world, and I always wanted to see it," Marla Green said.

The Agoura Hills residents arrived at about sunset, and everything was calm. But the picture-perfect moments soon stopped.

"A lot of the people were saying if Tunisia could get their act together and overthrow the government, then they were going to do the same thing," Marla Green said.

As protests began, their tour group lost phone and Internet service. They were kept out of the pyramids and headed for the airport guided by tanks.

"Then we saw a couple of kids coming down the street saying, 'Go back, go back, go back,' and everyone responded very quickly. Literally, in the middle of the freeway, people were turning their cars down any lane they could go," Robert Green said.

Marla Green said when they saw how nervous everyone else was, it made them nervous as well.

They saw a convoy of about 100 tanks heading toward the airport.

"They were moving probably 40 to 50 miles an hour, so we zipped in right behind them," Robert Green said.

Robert and Marla Green were able to get on the last flight out of the country on Saturday.

"The flight attendants, they were nervous, they were anxious because the airport was closing, and if we didn't get out, we would be stuck there," Marla Green said.

Those not lucky enough to catch a flight out are stuck at a crowded Cairo International Airport.

The U.S. State Department is now chartering free flights out for American citizens.

"It will be ongoing until we are able to get all Americans who are not able to get out via commercial airline," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs.

Video of thousands protesting on the streets made LAX travelers hesitant to head to Egypt, a country dependent on tourism.

"Don't want to go anywhere near that for the moment," said Art Schwartz of Marina Del Rey.

The Greens said no matter how upset the Egyptian people were at their government, they went out of their way to protect American tourists. They say they'll go back, but not for a while.

"It was nice to land at LAX," said Robert Green. "It was really nice to land at LAX."