Reporting Mike Xirinachs
GREAT NECK, NY (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — After living through days of riots and gunfire in the streets of Cairo, Alexandra Woodhouse can hardly believe she’s back home on Long Island.
“The place that I left was not the place that I came to,” she said. “I really wasn’t able to sleep and all I kept thinking was how great it’s going to be to see my family and how great it’s going to be to hug my dad and my mom.”
Alexandra had been in Egypt since September, working as an intern with the U.N., and when protesters first took to Tahrir Square 10 days ago, she felt grateful to have a front row seat to history.
However, the violence then took hold. Riots broke out, armed guards were everywhere and Alexandra, stranded with no ID, no passport, no way to reach the U.N., and no way to reach her family, who were worried sick about their daughter.
“I was like ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do’?” recounted Colin Woodhouse, Alexandra’s father.
“I thought ‘Oh my God, my baby, I sent her, I encouraged her, and she fell in love with this country and now she’s stuck there without food and water’,” said Alexandra’s mother Latifa Woodhouse.
Cell phone pictures revealed what Alexandra said she wouldn’t even tell her parents about in the brief and choppy phone conversations they had: busted water pipes turned weapons and teenagers armed with machine guns in the streets outside her hotel room.
“You could smell tear gas outside of our window,” Woodhouse told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. “It was just a very difficult time to see the place that I loved so much.”
“My 19-year-old friend holding a rifle in his hand, has never seen one of those before,” Alexandra said.
The 21-year-old student feared for her life, but with the help of family, was able to make it to the airport for a flight home Wednesday to her parents in Great Neck. She was both sad to leave the embattled country she has come to love and relieved beyond belief to be home.
“I knew I was OK at times but I just knew my family was suffering,” she said.
Despite the chaotic end to her trip, Alexandra said she wants to return to Egypt as soon as possible.
“It really is a special place. I want nothing more than to go back and I don’t know when that’s going to happen,” she said.
WCBS 880 Reporter Peter Haskell spoke with NYU graduate Laura Bohn who is studying at the American University in Cairo who described her situation just outside her doors.