Tift County mother, daughter returning from Egypt - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tift County mother, daughter returning from Egypt

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – The pictures posted on Carmen Savelli's Facebook page aren't what you would expect to see from a senior trip. Instead of the pyramids and majestic desert landscapes - it's snapshots of chaos - burning buildings, army tanks, and scores of political protestors in the streets of Cairo.

The Tift Area Academy student along with her aunt, grandmother, and mother arrived Friday in Egypt. Little did they know the country was on the verge of violent, mass demonstrations.

"We went over to see the pyramids, the Great Sphinx, and all the things that Egypt's famous for. Unfortunately we got there as the revolutions started," said Sherri Savelli.

She spoke by phone Tuesday afternoon from the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. She arrived there earlier in the day after finally catching a flight out of Cairo International Airport.

Over the weekend she and her loved ones were locked in a 15th floor room of a hotel in downtown Cairo. They watched in horror and amazement as the city they were visiting became the site of the largest political protests in Egyptian history.

"Every night we went to bed to the sounds of gunshots, and helicopters, fighter jets. We were so close to the fires, the ash from the burning buildings looked like confetti falling from the sky. We would wake up to people yelling and chanting and screaming and more burning buildings," said Savelli.

The family made it to the airport Sunday in Cairo where they witnessed more chaos. The terminal was filled with people frantically trying to catch the next flight out. 

"We saw people fighting and hitting. They were knocking over old people and people passing out and screaming. Women were passing their babies, little tiny babies, over the mass crowds to get their babies out. This was at the airport, it was so incredible," said Savelli.

But more Sunday they were met with more frustration. They were unable to get a flight home. Instead, they had to take a taxi back to their hotel in a city that was under curfew.

Savelli said they encountered a number of road blocks where armed civilians with guns, knives, and clubs manned the streets.

"To be afraid for my life, you always had to wonder if we were going to make it back," she said.

As the demonstrations grew in size, the Savelli's and Sherri's mother and sister from Washington state, could only watch as the protests unfolded outside.

Despite the country cutting off Internet and phone, Savelli was able to stay in touch with her husband and daughter in south Georgia. But it wasn't until Tuesday morning when they would finally board their flight.

"When the plane took off, everyone cheered. When we landed in Frankfurt, we cheered again. It was wonderful to be out of there," she said.

It's a trip they'll never forget, but one the Savelli's have reservations about taking again.

Sherri Savelli says her family is thankful for the prayers and concern from people while they were stuck in Egypt.

Savelli expects to arrive home in Georgia Wednesday afternoon.

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