Today is a big day in my family; my mother has to have a serious procedure done tomorrow, but the prognosis for an excellent recovery looks good — my brother is with her now, and I will be seeing her in a few weeks’ time.
I will of course be thinking about her all week, but I am certain everything will turn out fine, inshallah.
I myself have gone through a pretty bad diarrhea spell for the last 7 days or so, ever since I ate that delicious Bamia with lahma takeout from one of the Egyptian food restaurants in downtown Gouna: I suspect the meat, while tasty, was contaminated in some way.
Today was the first day I was able to put something solid in my stomach. I had one butter crossant from 7th Star in Abu Tig marina. The prices may be a little high there, but I have never had problems with any of their food, the service is excellent, though the crowds often a little too hip for my taste.
The croissant was fantastic! I am hoping it stays down without issues so I can wolf down the second one.
I also went to Bestway (a small QuickMart sort of place) next to 7th Star, and bought some tins of foul medames (fava beans), lentils (these have been impossible to find lately), a 6 Liter plastic jug of Netsle’s Pure Water (which, alas, I was horrified to read had issues a few years ago but not recently), some TP, paper towels, and dish washing liquid soap.
With only 18 days left for my stay in Gouna, I think — despite the endless pestering of flies and skeeters (trying to get into this house without one flying in is an acquired art, requiring much spastic hat waiving and arm flailing) coming to Gouna was a good idea.
I don’t think I would live in Gouna full-time (few do, except for the young Egyptians who do the heavy lifting that makes this place run), but a lot of my naive illusions about certain things, especially the past, have been punctured — which I will not get into here in any detail. Suffice it to say I was disappointed by some my experiences.
Even if you have no such expectations, Gouna can be quite monotonous if you remain in this rather aimless place for any length of time. The landscape might soon seem quite dull (or attractive, in its own reclaimed desert way).
Most of the people you are likely to meet here will be foreigners passing through for a few days, couples usually, or the guided groups that travel in packs.
There is a lot going on beneath the seemingly placid surface, but you are unlikely to ever become aware of it, unless you speak Arabic and stay here awhile and cultivate people who can act as cultural informants and maybe find you nicer and much more affordable places to rent than on the Internet, for in Gouna, wasta, or connections are everything.
Most of the Egyptians who own villas or apartments in this tony strip of the Red Sea (except in El Bustan) come only on weekends (which starts here on Thursdays) but only when the sun is not scorching hot. You are unlikely to meet any of them, as they keep to themselves, and usually only mingle with another — it’s the “owner” credo, which will more or less shut you out of most local social interactions, as they stick to their own kind: as does the Brit ghetto, the German one, and so on.
Thomas Wolfe was right.
Sure it is nice to go kite surfing — if you are 20 — and take dune buggies on a “desert safari” — ditto — but even snorkeling gets old after a while. In my late 30s and 40s I became an avid scuba diver; alas, those days are now long over — and snorkeling just doesn’t do it for me.
You will find the constantly pestering huge flies are real annoyance; not just that, they are a health hazard, as are the ubiquitous mosquitoes. I hope this week-long stomach thing is not the sign of anything more serious than plain old food poisoning!
If there’s one word of free advice I can give you, it is not to stay anywhere near Abu Tig marina, if you value your sleep at night. This does not mean that anywhere else you go will not be also noisy; it just won’t be quite as bad. And remember: everyone here smokes, and is a passive-smoking cancer denier.
Well that is pretty much it. I came here to get away from Trumplandia; and have written — mostly to amuse myself — a lot of deliberately over-the-top rants about the Orange One, but it does look the other side is going to hang in there after the mid terms. Incidentally, if you have ever wondered why Liberalism crashed and burned in 21th Century America, be sure to read this.
The truth is, it is going to be almost impossible to dislodge him soon, and I can’t sit out his presidency out in dusty Gouna forever.
The good news is that I will be seeing my mother in New York soon, and then of course my beautiful wife in Florida.
I came here to chill away from the hysterical drumbeats of parochial nativism in the United States, and, perhaps even more importantly, lose some serious weight, and those things I have done.
Meanwhile, before I fly fly out of here, it should not come as a shock for anyone to learn that El Gouna is nothing more than a semi ritzy yet affordable Red Sea resort town; it is not the real Egypt, but is a favorite part of her to some.