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


Don’t forget where you’re going

Nice 1971

Smile, smile, smile

In a few days, I shall be back in Nice, France.

The pic you see above was taken in Nice in 1971, with a girl I had just met.

I do not look anything like that guy any more; and I have no idea what became of the girl.

I have never written about her at any length: why it is that we were instantly attracted to each other when we first met in Nice in 1971, or why it  is that we decided, only a few months after this pic was taken on the seaside rocks of Raba Capeu, to meet in the Spanish city of Aljecerias — which is where we fell in love.

I thought I would marry this girl one day, but that is not what happened; and for many years after she left me, I will admit to spending more time than I should have, seeking inspiration in nearly every Manhattan dive bar or watering hole for drinkers with writing problems.

vincent van gogh

Famous one by Vincent

Ah, the self-indulgent but potent consolations of lamenting the Lost Lenore, or the cruelty of La forza del destino, usually in the company of broken down old men, men who passed their pointless days doing shots and short beers, their already-lived lives now consisting almost entirely of the prolonged, grim afternoon silences of the confirmed drinker, interrupted only by alcohol-fueled ruminations on what might have been, if only.

And now, I am as old as they were, and perhaps might even get older yet.

I, too, have disappointed myself, as well as a few  people, in particular my father, who hoped for a long time that I was capable of achieving great things with my life — which never came to pass.

Has it been a life wastefully lived?

I would say, maybe, yes, but what’s the use in worrying about it?

A few weeks from now, I’ll be in Gouna, on the Red Sea, where maybe I’ll begin my life anew.

I’ve thought a lot about what it is that I shall be doing there.

It’s taken me almost 17 months to get in solid enough shape to escape America.

So what if now my salad days are long over?

Funny, though, something’s been tugging at me.

Lately I keep imagining the story of an old  man who shows up, unexpectedly, in a distant, unfamiliar, and dangerous land, seemingly in search for something.

I cannot stop thinking of this man, and I’m beginning to imagine the sorts of jams he might get himself into, as various exotic people, some of them not very nice at all, try to figure out who he really is and what it is that he’s actually searching for: a pot of gold? a place to die? Or… something else?

By April, I expect that I’ll know a lot more about him, enough at least that I can start to tell the world about some of his adventures. and in particular, what it is that is compelling him to push himself to travel to a desolate, barren landscape, at an age when most men resign themselves to the pensioner’s life.

Now that — should it happen, for I have been down this road before, more than once even, and have always taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way — is not such a bad thing to look forward to, after all, when staying put is no longer an option.