Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Mighty Wind

The second week of my visit in Alexandria really blew. Literally. We experienced a wind storm like I have never seen. Walking between the hotel and the Library of Alexandria, I was almost blown off my feet several times. The biggest difference between this storm and the storms I have experienced before, is that the wind was continuous and strong for so long.

By itself, the wind made our personal lives interesting, but there were broader implications. Because the wind was so strong, commercial ships outside Alexandria laid anchor further out in the Mediterranean than usual. In fact, they anchored right over the spot where two major communications cables pass, and severed the cables. The internet to Egypt was crippled! While this story made news in the rest of the world, we experienced it directly at the library. Web and email browsing crawled almost to a halt. Thank goodness that the students we were working with had already downloaded the data they needed.

The effects were not just felt in Egypt. The severed cables also connect other parts of the Middle East and India, which also experienced sever disruptions. Who knew a little wind-storm could have such a global effect?