"I'M thanking God that He got us out of there."
That's the reaction of a Barnesville High School graduate, now a retired teacher, who returned Wednesday night from Egypt where she was spending a vacation with her daughter and son-in-law.
The political upheaval including riots meant some changes in the Egyptian vacation for Jan Catherwood, but she felt safe despite the problems.
Catherwood, who was graduated from Barnesville High in 1944 and obtained a degree at The Ohio State University, stays in an apartment in Barnesville from June to October and then lives the remainder of the year in Titusville, Fla. She left for Egypt Jan. 21 and was scheduled to return Feb. 4.
Catherwood, who formerly taught Ohio history in Shelby, said she was in a 16-member tour group, and she had high praise for Overseas Adventure Travel and the guide. Noting the group was "totally safe," the former teacher added she never felt threatened by the protestors.
Although the trip undoubtedly was more of an adventure than she expected, Catherwood said the group never saw the pyramids and missed out on riding camels. Mentioning the fact that she didn't see the pyramids, she said, "Someday, I'll take a cruise on the Mediterranean and glance over."
Initially, the group was in Cairo and then went to Luxor. It was in Luxor "when things broke loose" and she saw protestors surrounded by guards, the Egyptian Army, tanks and police with repeating rifles. She added the police were everywhere.
Despite the political unrest, Catherwood said the group saw so many beautiful things, museums and temples and also took a hot air balloon ride.
"We got to see a lot," she said. "The protestors didn't bother us at all."
After Luxor, the group sailed down the Nile to Aswan, and it was a three-day trip. At Aswan, the tourists were kept in a four-star hotel for several days.
The tour guide, according to Catherwood, was constantly in communications with OTA and once stayed up all night in efforts to get the group out of Egypt.
Finally, the tourists were able to leave on an Egyptian airline and they were taken to Istanbul wehre they spent the night. The next stop was Frankfort, Germany, and their arrival there was at midnight. Catherwood only had a few hours sleep in Germany as she had to be up by 1:40 a.m.
Her daughter and son-in-law, Cori and "Dar" Hoag, who are Michigan residents, traveled on another airplane back to the United States.
"I was the fortunate one," said Catherwood. Traveling on a German airline, she felt lucky because the flight went directly to Orlando and didn't go to New York where she would have encountered wintry problems.
Her friends, who had been in contact with the federal government and OAT as they feared for her safety, picked her up at the airport.
Catherwood, who arrived in Orlando at 8:30 p.m., said, "I don't remember putting my head on my pillow."
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