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On the road

ISMAILIA, Egypt — Henry Kissinger perfected the art of shuttle diplomacy. As the Gaza conflict tears through its third week, I'm getting experience in the art of shuttle journalism.

With a war reverberating off the gates at Rafah while protests hurry through the streets of Cairo and dignitaries jet through the capital in search of a ceasefire, Egypt has two important fronts for a journalist to contend with.

As I write this blog, I'm sailing up the highway at a reckless pace in a service taxi. This will be my fourth trip up to the border since the conflict began. That puts me around hour 30 in overall transport time.

For the young journalist that wants to see it all, this is a fascinating (and tragic) time and place to be. In hours of desperate diplomacy, politicians sweat through sessions in Cairo trying with sincerity to find consensus. And watching politicians do anything sincerely is remarkable enough.

Up at the border there is anger, lots of it, but also an intense desire to help the innocent in Gaza. Doctors sit for days at the border, hoping to make their way to Gaza City. A guy from the little delta town of Mahalla collects aid from his neighbors and loads it in a pickup in the hopes of getting it across the border.

Between these two theaters is a long stretch of road. Cairo's congested streets give way to a desert highway which in turn leads to a bridge over the Suez Canal with stunning views of the oil tankers. Then three hours across the top of the sparsely populated Sinai, and I'll arrive in El Arish, a middle-class resort town on the Mediterranean. A latenight seafood dinner and a quick drink at the bar, then it will be time to get some sleep before making an early morning trip to Rafah and the border. After all, I'll only have a couple of days before Cairo calls me back.