The trials of Gounaman


In America, this is called tresspassing

Almost a week has gone by since moving in to the new villa in El Gouna, Egypt.
It is located on a beautiful lagoon near Abu Tig marina, on the road to the Sheraton Hotel, and the view is stunning. I wish I could describe to you the profound sense of regained place — in a misty-eyed manner of speaking — I feel when I look out to the Red Sea or breathe in the garden-scented air (alas, no Night Jasmine) and revel in the fact that I am again, after so many years, back in my own country at last (even though everyone calls me “Mister”), and will have remained here, by this coming April, for seven amazing but semi grueling months.
But all is not roses.
Here are my impressions/experiences so far, after a week in this new villa, as my wife (who came to visit for a few weeks in late December when I was at the West Golf villa, but is back now in F-L-A) and I decide if we want to return to Gouna in the Fall for an extended period of time:
1) the front door locks had to be changed the day after I moved in.  I almost locked myself out at night because the keys almost did not work.  There is no way the real estate agent did not know how bad this door lock was, and it should have been fixed before I moved in
2) the downstairs bathroom does not work. A plumber came and said he could not fix it because the flushing mechanism inside the toilet is foreign and he does not have spare parts
3) the double glass door to the veranda outside is unusable.  Because of the shoddy carpentry, it is quite dangerous to use this door (the glass tilted back and almost fell off the last time I tried to open it). So now I have to go out by the front of the house to get to the back porch. this double door absolutely needs to be fixed in order not to be a danger to future renters
4) the hot water is often brown or rusty, when you first turn it on, but that goes away after a while. Still I don’t know if this water is clean or not, and I have had stomach problems for three days. I would have someone come and test the water from impurities and bacteria, although the diarrhea I have had for the last three days could be food poisoning from a takeout meal I had at Caleo’s in downtown Gouna
5) there are strange people who keep coming to examine the boat on the dock. this has happened twice already. They did not have the courtesy to ask my permission to come on to the property. In America you would call this trespassing, and people have been shot for less. (see pic)
6) there seems to be a commercial operation going on in the house on the right.  I think it is owned by Orange Concept, and everyday there are many vans and cars that come to that villa at 7am.  Some workers with orange caps leave their bikes there overnight (see pic), then ride the bike to Abu Tig marina, where I think they work on the Ocean Diva catamaran. I do not know if there is a zoning rule in Gouna for commercial vs residential property, but this is definitely a commercial operation in a residential area
7) there are other people who walk in front of the house throughout the day. They are either guests at the Sheraton or workers at that hotel.  So there is not a lot of privacy here, if you sit in the back, and sometime the workers will try to cut through this villa to get to the street.  Again, this is called trespassing in the States, whereas in Gouna it is called ma’alesh
8) I had to pick up quite a bit of garbage and loose cigarette butts in the garden at the back of the property.  I don’t know who left this stuff there, but am confused as to why the gardeners did not pick this garbage up.
9) the plain Gouna TV channel lineup in this villa is quite limited, and the TV in the living room is not hi def. Unfortunately I will not be able to watch the upcoming Real Madrid Champions League games against Juventus on April 3rd and 11th without going to some smoke-filled sports bar

Orange Concept guy next door

So these are obviously the niggly things.
Apart from the free internet, which allows me to lsisten to All In With Chris Hayes radio on YouTube, other positives are that the villa is much nicer (more light and bigger) than the one in West Golf.  It is also more conveniently located, and quieter at night than the other place (although there is a lot of traffic every day on nearby, busy Mohammed Raguib street, as well as Egyptian guys on occasion talking loudly in Arabic due to the Orange Concept people next door).
But there is a big red flag looming on Friday.  I spent last September through mid December in an apartment in Abu Tig marina by the Duport Club. This crass outfit — with its many noisy functions throughout the week and late into the night made my life absolute hell for almost 3 months, until they shut down in early December due to the cold.
The Duport Club is now gearing up to again make a racket on Friday with its vapidly submoronic stationary bicycle “Spinning Wheels” marathon endurance event.
You can view a previous one here.
This is quite literally going to be a circus like atmosphere, and go on well into the night, not doubt complete with the hateful searchlights they love to trot out for these types of airhead functions.
Duport so far has been quiet during my stay so far in this particular villa.
But if they start up again with their loud and unpleasant shenanigans, because the weather is warmer (which has also brought out the pestering biting flies that make walking such fun at times), and turn every weekend into hell due to my renewed proximity to the marina, I shall not be renting this place in the fall.
Finally, there is a bit of a distasteful back story to this house, which I will not get into here, that is definitely going to be in the mix of the looming decision.
Abu Tig will hopping by the time the Coptic Easter hols roll around on April 8th.  I doubt I shall leave the house that weekend, which may turn out to be the last one I ever spend in Gouna, as what I look for, most of all, in a place is a sense of tranquility.
Luckily I will be missing the upcoming goofy squash Masters tournament on the last week of April, the totally pointless 4×4 desert “rally” on May 10th as well as the desperately hep groovebeat Gouna Sandbox ’18, which is sure to fill the town with drunken foreign hopheads and young Egyptian hipsters acting as if they aren’t actually Egyptian as they bump for  a score.
With Hilton poised to complete the destruction of once pristine Mangroovy Beach, and construction about to commence on the fake hill towering over Abu Tig marina,  this town is about to get way too crowded.


Just hope not too many will trip over the strips of wood on the primitively constructed bridge ramp that’s just been built in downtown Gouna, a structure that is too low to allow tourist buses to clear, which means that a favorite parking area for the cattle vehicles that bring portly Hurghada sun seeker geezers for a few hours to downtown stores and restaurants is now off-limits. Much to everyone’s relief, no doubt, it will still allow stalky, predatory, fume-spewing, beeping tuc-tucs to wingzing through.
I’m outta here in 24 days.
Soon thereafter, I’ll be back home in Florida, and will see my beautiful wife again after a three-month absence. The NY Jets picks third in the draft this year; Rosen or Mayfield are both ballers, and I will be happy with either one.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be wanting to watch the half-a-century-of-failure Jestonians again this coming season, now that they are about to nab their loooooong awaited franchise QB. Thirty-six days from now, on April 26th, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield will be a Jet. However, as a Jet fan posted on Jets Nation, Coach Bowles only likes vets, like Bridgewater: the older the better. If we draft a stud, I want him to play right up.
Yeah to that!
leaving america

The band’s visit


the band's visit poster

So why are the Egyptian guys all the way in the back on some dusty wind-swept dune?

I’m writing this on a beautiful Sunday morning, while listening to Gouna radio. This is a really chill station, with eclectic, pleasantly relaxing music  that suits the ambiance of El Gouna to a tee. You can turn it on low, and just groove to it in the background as you go about your business, which of course is living life as it should be lived.

Okay, so the main point of today’s post is to show my finicky wife more pics of the new villa I am renting. To cut to the chase, I would sum up by saying this villa is quite airy inside, with significantly better views from the bedrooms and the ample living room and MUCH larger dining room windows than the previous one.  There is a sense of space here, and the smell of the plants that waft in from the impressive garden are marvelous.

But first, some preliminaries for those of you who may be new to this blog.

I am an American expat who has spent the last six and a half months in Egypt (after a few days in Nice, France).  I have been in El Gouna since the middle of September, so I’ve been here 6 months, give or take.  I plan to remain in Egypt another 30 days, and will return to NYC — insha’Allah! – on April 17th, which is when my visa expires.

I left the United States in 2017 because, as an Arab-American, I could not tolerate living under the thumb of the grotesquely obscene Trump presidency. Nothing since then has changed my mind.

With each passing day, the level of corruption and venality and sordidness of the retrograde regime currently in the White House (and the submissives in Congress who have bent over and parted their lily-white cheeks for The Donald) further reveals itself.

You know what, at age 66, I don’t need this crap.

Alas, I return in about 4 weeks to America.

But where the heart matters, I shall spend time in Westchester with my mother, who will be recovering from surgery.

Perhaps during that time, I may be able to catch The Band’s Visit, which I loved as a movie, and yearn to see on Broadway. Most importantly, I hope that Mum recovers smartly from her ordeal, and that all will be fine again.

Following that, I shall return to the tedium that is Florida and be with my wife — who is the only other reason of the heart why I can tolerate it there — for the summer.

She has decisions to make, if we’re to discontinue this ersatz bi-country phase of our long marriage.

Does she want to keep her store going?  Could she live in Gouna for 9 months, starting in October, in this new villa I have rented, without getting really bored?

Is this the right place for us?  Does it have the correct mix of quiet, yet proximity to things (I just discovered the Sea Cineman is a five minute walk away!), provide an agreeable living space, and, most importantly to me, an affordable, direct view of the sea, something I have longed for since 2001?

So far, almost everything about this new place has turned out as hoped.

The north winds keep the bugs away, and the type of people who live on this cove are far more upscale than the loud weekenders who often ruined my three-month stay in the area known as West Golf. It is quite private here.

There is no constant sound of rumbling buses, due to a magnificent front garden that reminds me of Tozeur, in Tunisia, and the smell of the sea air is exhilarating. The gardeners have been told not to come on the grounds after 10am, and that is being respected.  There’s no pool, so no pool man to worry about constantly showing up unexpectedly; and swimming in the lagoon is quite grand.

I have slept like a baby since coming here (once I got rid of two or three skeeters:  I have become a rather expert mosquito hunter in Gouna), with a fresh pleasant breeze coming in through the screened bedroom windows at night.

So here, finally, is the newest gallery of  pics to show my wife what this place is like.  Ordinarily I would not post this many — it’s a time-consuming pain in the butt to resize and compress 35 photographs!

(If we do return to Gouna in October, I am most definitely getting a better camera that will allow me to take hi-def snaps of the wildlife and the moon hovering over the lagoon, and all the other points of interest that I have yet to photograph:  I want to upload the sort of extraordinary pics one can take here, as well as the more unspoiled of vistas further South.)

But we have to decide within 10 days or so, in other to ensure the place will be available commencing October, so this rather extensive tour of the place should give Zouz (my wife) a good idea as to what to expect. By the way, there is a barky dog nearby, so I don’t think Sandy would have grooved here; she is fine where she is, with plenty of food and water. in her rightful placey.

Okay, so without further ado…

washing machine

The washing machine is in the kitchen! No separate laundry room; or dryer for that matter, or even pegs and a drying rack

staircase to the sunroof and master bedroom on 3rd floor

bags unpacked!

bags still packed

6am this morning, the view from my villa of the Red Sea

dining room: 12’W x 14’L

downstairs (foyer) bathroom

guest bathroom

guest bedroom: 12’W x 14’L

living room: 12’W x 20’L (plus cathedral ceiling, as is the case in almost every room)

gouna egypt

master bedroom: 12’W x 17’L — the faux leopard skin couch is nothing if not campy Phyllis Dillerish

spare room with xtra TV and mozinet

master bathroom

sunroof terrace

modern micro and oven

I am going to buy oranges and sqeeze my own fresh OJ!

sideways view of fridge

the kitchen: 8’W x 12’L

Nice, huh? Who knows, maybe some of my old band mates who live part-time in Gouna will drop by before I leave. Then again, I’m not holding my breath.

leaving america



egyptian parrot

Babaghan in colloquial Egyptian Arabic means parrot.

Most people don’t know this, but there is a parrot in El Gouna, Egypt.  He hangs out in the dining room of the villa I’m renting for the next 4 weeks.

Now before I continue, to my wife in America, whose store mascot is in fact a Florida parrot, and who not doubt’ll be reading  this post:  your regular email account is full!

And now back to expat stories of the Red Sea.

So yesterday they displayed on a makeshift stage in Basin 1 of Abu Tig marina the FIFA World Cup trophy.  There was a lot of traffic in the area, and a big line for people wanting to get a chance to view it.

I went down there to get some supplies from Bestway, but stayed in the Basin 2 marina at 7th Star to have a Spaghetti Bolognese. It was not as tasty as I remembered it from months past.

Sitting three tables away by the entrance was a large Egyptian family.

The men of course were  on their smartphones the whole time, while the women — some of whom where in hijab attire — talked and ignored their children running around. Now this was an Egyptian family, and their kids were all speaking to one another in accented English. I mean it sounded like they didn’t even know Arabic. Then a group of young Egyptian girls and their beaux came in and sat down; same deal.

As I left 7th Star, a bunch of older Egyptian bodocious tatas decked out sleek black sleet gowns slinked by, no doubt on their way to some function at one of the dance clubs around here.

I walked back home with a few cans of foul medames, and went to sleep concerned about the search lights up in the sky: that was always a sign of impending trouble when I lived in Abu Tig marina itself.

But nothing happened. There was a fireworks display around 11pm but that piffled out in short order.

I went to sleep with the windows open, giving me a view of the cove in front of the villa that leads to the Red Sea itself.

The night was calm, and a light breeze made the wind chimes on the verandah tinkle as I drifted off to sleep. It’s odd how the sea air in Gouna does not smell of salt.

Soon, I found myself in a dream with the parrot from the living room downstairs.

He told me about this house, and who did the carpentry work, and all about it’s management layer, and those who worked for it who were fired, and much other largely sordid supposedly inside info about what goes on in general with the rental of Gouna homes that only parrots know.

Good thing all is well with America, where it’s normal for the President of the United States to hire Hulk Hogan’s lawyer to represent him in court against a porn star

I woke up around 6am, made Turkish coffee, and gazed out at the pink sunrise over the Red Sea.  No mosquitoes last night, and absolute quiet all night.

I decide to heat up some foul, and turned on Gouna Radio for some eclectic chill music.

This was going to be a good day.

leaving america