The Egret has Landed


Florida Cattle Egret

Today’s the second day that I’m back in Florida, on what is known as the Treasure Coast.

I live in a small, limited-growth, low-density county by the Atlantic ocean. There are no gigantic condos towering over the beaches here. The tallest structure in the county is a water tower, and there are only 145 thousand full-time residents, who live in an area that is about 753 square miles.

Most people like to live by or near the ocean, so the population density is skewed toward towns and areas that abut the water. My town has a population density of 1800 residents per square mile. This compares favorably with that of my hometown, Manhattan, which has 66,940!

I spent the day yesterday lazing on the back porch. and recovering from the final effects of jet lag. This porch is actually a screened lanai (unlike what you get in El Gouna, where the biting flies will feast on your flesh as you attempt to kick back by the pool), and overlooks a small lagoon and the manicured golf course that’s intertwined in the high-end gated community where I live.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and I sat in the gentle sun reading Ahmed Naji’s Using Life. I have been waiting for a dog’s age to read this book: of course it’s banned in Egypt, and its author was thrown in jail for the past two years on obscenity charges, and now awaits another trial and isn’t allowed to leave the country.

This is the sort of thing that is tolerated in the land of El Peepee, the tin pot generalissimo who overthrew Egypt’s only democratically elected president in 2013.

Now that I’m out of Egypt, I can start to write the truth about that country — both in this blog, and in the novel I’m working on —  a country where freedom is unknown, and young activists, journalists, artists, and writers are thrown in prison and sometimes tortured for the heinous crime of speaking the truth.

After only one day, my skin is already starting to uncrinkle from the 85 per cent humidity that I am enjoying here, after the 5 per cent humidity desert air of El Gouna.

I went for a bike ride early in the day. The wind was a gentle 5 mph, and the sky a vivid blue. The pleasant outing was not ruined by any of those infernal tuc-tucs that blight El Gouna, where I spent the last seven months, and no biting flies pursued me. When I returned, I worked with weights, and then did stomach exercises.

I felt a sense of deep contentment, and slept like a baby last night, under my own roof, at last. I awoke an hour before dawn, which is normal for me:  I do my best writing between 5 and 8, when it is quietest, before going about the rest of my day.

Speaking of writing, it is such a pleasure to be using a real desktop computer, with a wide, high-resolution screen, and a version of the classic old school IBM Model M keyboard that I have used most of my life — it’s is highly conducive to typo free, high-speed typing.

Even better yet, it is a pleasure to finally have access to a high-speed internet connection.

In Gouna, all I had was a measly 2 Mbps connection that I plugged into via a miniature Samsung Chromebook whose keys stuck.

Here I’m once again enjoying download speeds of 97 Mbps, and upload speeds of over 12 Mbps, which is truly life as it should be.

And now that I am away from the land of the Pharaohs, I can access sites like Mada Masr (it has a superb English language version), which cover what is really going on in Egypt. Mada Masr, and many other like sites, are banned in Egypt, because El Pepee and his venal band of sycophants can’t handle the truth.

duck stamp

Today, I plan to drive my trusty Ford Escape and tool around town taking care of various errands, including getting a Federal Duck Stamp that will provide me with unfettered access for the rest of the year to any Federal park or preserve across the United States — for the princely sum of $25.

Then I will head straight to my beloved beach (which is a federally protected park, and consists of 5 miles of wild, untouched litoral, with actual sand, and not that red clay, pebbly stuff on the Red Sea), the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, absolutely my favorite “secret” beach in the world. I’ll try to find my old friend, Ozzie the osprey, and say hi and maybe take a few snaps..

I left America because I thought Donald Trump posed a threat to Arab-Americans like me. Now that this orange piece of corrupt and possibly traitorous lard — isn’t the First Amendment a beautiful thing?! — is in such deep shit, it shall be hugely entertaining to watch the pig sweat and rant and squirm, as the walls close in and America slowly approaches the November mid-terms, while the Mueller and Cohen sagas unfold like a Greek tragedy wrapped in a farce.

Life is always good, in a democracy with strong institutions, no matter what, unlike poor Egypt, which has been stuck with the likes of General Peepee since 1952 — as the smug burghers at 7th Star in El Gouna chow down their Spaghetti Bolognese and sip their Sakkarah Golds and smoke their Marlboros and gab on their smartphones and gaze out at the marina at their boats and pretend that all is well and will last forever, so long as President Peepee is around.

Here, the egrets have landed, and they are free to come and go as they please in a free land.

Ameen to that.

leaving america


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