Yesterday afternoon, last night, and already this morning have been extremely busy. Things are hopping around here, so without further ado, here is today’s update.
The pool situation
As everyone who reads this blog knows, I am a secular anchorite; one who prizes solitude, and longs only for the company of his beautiful wife. When I moved in last Saturday, some guys showed up and spent two hours vacuuming the pool in slow motion, talking on their cellphones, and in general lollygagging about. I asked them in Arabic to turn off the “overflow” pool effect (it creates a sort of waterfall, but is probably costly, so no), and maybe come back in a week, but they seemed to obstinately understand this to mean a day in, day out deal, and they eventually left.
These fellas returned the next day. I immediately contacted the real estate agent, and told him in no uncertain terms that I am here for privacy, and will not tolerate two young men coming over to my house for two hours every morning and acting like they own the place.
I did not see them again till Wednesday when one came by and timidly asked if he could check the pool. I said of course, but that it wasn’t necessary to vacuum unless it’s needed. He did not stay long, The moral of this segment is, when you live in a Gouna villa, even if you are only renting, you are in almost total control of what happens on your property, even if you don’t realize it — unlike the nightmare situation I found myself in at the apartment in Abu Tig marina. So don’t let anyone push you around with surprise visits, or, say, think you have to allow the kid who comes to water the garden to have extended chats with his pals at the gate protecting your villa.
In other words, don’t be afraid to be a dick; you’re paying for the privilege.
The Tommy Situation
Tyger is a local stray cat that has adopted me. She is has an orange striped coat like most of the cats in El Gouna. I am thinking of calling her 4 Socks (as in Dances with Wolves), which is a more feminine name that Tyger; she is definitely a female. Because of that, she keep attracting the possibly unwanted attentions of a tomcat, who acts like he wants her badly, has already tried to get into the house, and most likely ate up her bowl of food last night. I started shooing him away, but that didn’t do much (he started hissing before running away), so I resorted to throwing several glasses of water at him, and that eventually did the trick. He did come back this morning, but this time when I shooed him off, he ran away. The Tommy Situation is one that is going to have be monitored closely, as I am not going to feed two cats, then suddenly have a litter on my hands.
The Wild Dog situation
As mentioned (among other things of interest to Gounites) in an excellent report just written by a friend of mine who publishes Gouna News, there is also a wild dog situation in El Gouna. Last night they went at it pretty good, barking across the lagoon much of the night, and then I think some of them crossed the small bridge that separates the two main areas of the section of Gouna where I’m staying. I don’t know if any are rabid, but I saw one of them not far from my gate today, no doubt attracted by….
The Nittin Situation
The bane of Gouna are the Cairene weekend nittins (nittin approximately means filthy/smelly in Egyptian slang) who rent for a few days from the many absentee landlords who own apartments here. These swarthy barbarians come via car or motorcycle, often riding in packs, and sometimes accompanied with their floozies. I am beginning to suspect that the Gouna apartment nittins use these short stay vacation retreats to do un-Islamic things with their girlfriends, for here they will not be asked embarrassing question by hotel staff.
I am no prude, for I have lived for many years in the Gharb (ie, the West) among the unbelievers, and am familiar with their prurient ways. What bothers me about these hep nittins is their tendency to sport man-buns, obsession with loud baladi music, and partiality to throwing parties (this has not yet happened, thank Allah, but is bound to, any day, with Christmas rapidly approaching) that last till dawn (you can also read about this in the above referenced Gouna News report).
Nittins are also partial to consuming vast quantities of junk food and giant soft drinks and then leaving their unbagged garbage out in the street for the wild dogs to forage through during the night. For this reason, I hereby call for a total ban on nittins in El Gouna, except in Abu Tig marina, which is perhaps where they truly belong, as they may not realize that the entire point of most of El Gouna (outside of the hotels, Abu Tig, and the commercial downtown) is the embodiment of Epicurean hudoo’ (or hedonistic calm).
However, in all fairness, a guy who obviously was a Gouna admin guy drove by around 7am, took pics of the mess on the sidewalk, and by 9am everything was back to normal,
The Namousse Situation
Yesterday, I went to Downtown Gouna, and bought a few anti skeeter repellents.
I actually went to the Best Way supermarket, and asked the staff there if they had any citronella. They said sorry, but we don’t understand what that is, and escorted me to the insect products area. I immediately found the citronella, but also a Prallethrin 92% vaporizer.
I then bought a bottle of Lemon Grass oil from the nearby cydaleya (or Pharmacy); this product was quite expensive: almost 80 LE (over $4). I plugged in the vaporizer as the sun began to set, lit my citronella sticks, sploshed the sawgrass oil on my exposed arms and legs, and waited. I can report that the citronella did little to dissuade the skeeters from coming at me. The vaporizer after a while smelled quite strong and I started to cough from the smell so I turned it off. This morning, I did notice a few skeeters had died in their tracks, still clinging to a spot on the wall near where the vaporizer was located, so it does work.
As for the almond and sawgrass oil (which really does wonders to combat skin dryness), it seemed to help ward off the skeeters from landing for an hour or so, but as the evening wore on, they paid no attention to it, and had to spray myself with OFF!, which reeks. I guess you have to constantly reapply this oil; I hope my wife will able to bring camphor tablets and camphor oil with her when she arrives in about a week.
Around 9:30PM I could not take the buzzing any more, as I tried to write emails to my wife and watch CNN International, which has a well-meaning but caddywhompus way of programming the news (which I may lampoon one day), and retired with my Kindle to the upstairs bedroom Mosinet cocoon. I did gloat at the frustration of the skeeters buzzing in vain around the magnificent Mosinet, as they tried and failed to get inside my safe area, but really, going to sleep at that hour every night is a bit much, and I again woke up before dawn, and had to wait for sunrise (around 6am-ish) before I could safely exit the safe area, and perform my ablutions.
This mosquito situation is no joke. It really does reduce property values, which I might care about if I were to one day become a fabled Gounie owner, if the problem is severe; but I have yet to see any anti-mosquito fog trucks go around in El Gouna. This is definitely something I would bring up with the El Gouna management: despite the extra cost, I think hotels and owners might be persuaded to pony up a little extra (again, read the Gouna report to get a sense of how things are financially in El Gouna) for this service. Another problem with mosquitoes is that they can carry Dengue fever, which is not something I want to fool around with.
The hal (or solution)
So… absent fog trucks and effective remedies what to do? Well, I did notice when I went to perform my morning duties that many mosquitoes were congregating by the bathroom window, as if they were trying to get to the early morning sunlight. I studied their flight patterns (they dip down, then up, in a lazy circle, moving at 1.2mph: so I targeted the up trajectory path), then took a little bit of toilet paper and made a sort of mitt with it, and was able to kill a few like that. There were still about two left, clinging to the high ceiling, so I closed the bathroom door, but not before bringing in the vaporizer and turning it on. Maybe it will work even better in a smaller space than the living room.
I went downstairs to make my traditional cup of morning Turkish Joe, and saw a few flying about in the kitchen. They were easy to spot as the morning sun streamed in from the window, so I killed a few by clapping my hands and squashing their nasty little bodies in midair.
But there were still a few clinging to ceiling or at the top of the walls. I like high ceilings, but the disadvantage here is that some of the cleverer skeeters can stay just out of reach. The only real solution that I can think is to go back downtown, and buy large cans of Raid mosquito spray, the kind that shoots out a jet of liquid that instantly kills the suckers. I have found this method to be quite effective in Florida, so hope Bestway will have these.
The good news is, the walls of the villa are white (despite the color you see in the blurry pic above), so the skeeters are easy to spot during the day as they sleep high up on the walls, waiting for dark. The other good news seems to be that there are no more than maybe a dozen skeeters in the house, so I should be able to pick them off one by one, armed with a spray can. Plus, I discovered they get quite sleepy and careless during the day. Walking around the house, chair in hand, getting up on it under them, and splatting these annoying insects with my bare palm turns out to be a piece of cake.
Well, that’s it for today. It’s unusually humid this morning (78%), and was already in the 70s at 9am. If it gets toasty later today, I might even be able to go for a nice refreshing swim in my gorgeous, private pool.
Thus ends another installment of my experiences as an expat in El Gouna, Egypt, where life is as it should be, so long as you keep the nittins and namousse in check.