The Gebel

gouna egypt mountains
Quads in the Gebel at sunset — Photo courtesy Jo Chessum

“Sometimes I feel
I’ve go to…
run away.”
Soft Cell, Tainted Love

I’ve decided that I will not walk to the mountains, or gebel (in Arabic), as originally contemplated. Instead, I am arranging for transport by car, or Jeep, which has the advantage of not turning your clothes into a pile of sand dust, as happens with quad bikes. The plan is to get a few people to come with me, and maybe meet a few bedouin to have tea with in the afternoon when there. I want to come back before sunset, as I imagine the gebel is bloody cold at night, even more frigid than in the villa I’m renting, with its mausoleum marble flooring (or rokahm, in Arabic) that makes the house feel like a meat refrigerator at night. I used Google Earth to try to figure out the distance from the villa and the nearest mountains, and couldn’t find the Ruler or even the Tools menu option in the app I downloaded. So I measured it by hand, and my best guess conclusions are that this would be at least 3 hours walking to get there, and another 3 hours to get back. Now 6+ hours is a long hike alone in the desert, and much could go wrong along the way. Since I would not be able to call anyone for help, should, say, a scorpion bite me, or I’m attacked by roving marauders, I reckon it’s safest to go in a small group. This will probably happen sometime in February; and I very much look forward to the experience, particularly as I envision going to the gebel as the climactic scene in the Gouna novella I plan to write fil mish mish when I return to Florida in March or April (not now, of course; never now, as Eckhart Tolle might joke). I should know within 48 hours if I am going to be able to rent in North Golf (which is probably the quietest section of El Gouna) during what is the most beautiful month in Gouna — low 80s by day, high 60s by night:  in other words, perfection.  In the meantime, the real estate agent has promised to loan me some berber carpets to lessen the winter night cold at this villa, so things should be improving relatively soon on that score. Re this novella, or novel, if I can tackle such a project in my advanced state of mental and physical decline, I’m now worried that the overall theme would be excessively knicked from Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, providing yet another superb reason not to write the damn thing, not to mention achieving calorie free greatness by name-drop association. This — all of it — is of course an issue of long standing, which I probably need help from a professional such as Tolle to resolve during some expensive 3-day seminar somewhere. Yes, I do have such crippling, penthouse problems, it seems, that I almost admire myself every day for even getting out of bed in the morning, but then I would have to tweet about it incessantly, as some do, as if anything I have to say really matters to the gebel, unless I really tried to, at the least, attempt to go tell it to the mountain.

leaving america


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