شعب متنيل

Great song.  Lyrics here.

Maryam Saleh is a fox.  Not this one.

This one.

Way underground.

Forget Om Kalthoum. She’s just a throwaway line in a Broadway musical now.

Drink arak and listen to Arab underground music, and sigh like you aren’t listening to the music of a doomed country.

After all, there’s still Andalusia.

Maybe you should start a Portuguese band called The Moriscos.

Underground music, underground politics, everywhere you look the Chinese are trying to put up golf courses while the mountains burn.

Look at what happened last week in Egypt and as if it’s all been decided.

Everyone must be either be hanged or live in The Scorpion, says some Egyptian judge, as the tourist bureau banners and headlines scream:

Tourism is up!

El Gouna movie festival!

No, we have no dead Brits today!

Don’t mention the body parts being sold on the raseef, the disintegrating pavements of Cairo.

Don’t read Raseef22 — it’s not suitable for the siyah, the tourists.

I want to meet Maryam Saleh.

Where is she?

In some bookstore in Tavira reading this, or this, or even this?

I want to ask her:  how do you support the rights of those who would never give you any?

And why does everyone want to kill everyone else?

I grimace.

It’s Monday morning and I have shit to do before leaving for Portugal.

My chromebook is synced up to a speaker that’s playing El Gouna radio in the background.

Why doesn’t this station ever stop playing safe feel good touristy music and instead blast tunes from Lekhfa?

It wouldn’t solve anything, but it would be a start.

Wake up the fat Germans and smug Brits and their fancy real estate deals and see for once what is actually going with the mitnayileen — this does not mean people of the Nile, but it could, if you were in a joking mood — who serve them their barely chilled Sakara Golds.

It doesn’t matter.

New Arab music and fiction writing is exploding.

What a great time to be alive!

Unless you’re rotting in some Sisi jail.


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muslim travels book
Click or tap to read Der Speigel’s elitist take on Mass Tourism

19 days to go before my wife and I take off for the Algarve.

Last night, I dipped into the first and last chapters of Dale Eickelman’s (Ed.) enlightening 1990 paperback, Muslim Travellers Pilgrimage, Migration, and the Religious Imagination. I’ve had this book for about a decade, and like to read different parts of it from time to time.

Rest easy, though.

I am not about to use the occasion to pretentiously digress on the finer distinctions between a hegira, rihla, or a simple ziyarra. I’m not even going to drone on with a tedious lack of originality on the subject of inner Spiritual Journeys.

After all, I am more of a lightweight travel writer or blogger than a heavy duty Sufi mystic.

So you can relax.

Any kind of overseas trip requires a certain amount of energy.  You have to step lively and have the energy to put up with all the inconveniences of modern travel.

“Mass tourism is a phenomenon of our post-materialistic society. Possessions are no longer a priority — we just want to be entertained.”

Sociologist Paolo Giuntarelli

I was kind of getting tired of that scene, after 7 months in Gouna, and then 10 days in the Big Apple, especially as I drift more deeply into the second half of my sixties, and really start to feel the aches, the pains, the agony of the feet, the all of it.

Frankly, I was resigned to spending the rest of my days sitting around my attached concrete bunker in FLA while constantly bemoaning to my wife our right-wing neighbors and bristling with barely suppressed rage at any mention of the “age of Trump.”

Arab tourists blending in nicely with the locals and other visitors in Austria

Dudes, I was feeling old, tired, fat, low on energy, and bigly on moobs.

Then I had my annual Medicare-subsidized checkup, complete with comprehensive knee and back x-rays and thorough blood work to check my thyroid and testosterone hormone levels.

The results came back, and my good toubib did NOT change the Synthroid prescription I have to take for the rest of my life (due to Graves Disease) but also recommended I go see various specialists to have corticosteroid shots administered to both arthritic knees for my bone-on-bone walking issues; Tramadol and Diclofenac Sodium Topical Gel for my degenerative spine problems; and, yes, testosterone-therapy for my embarrassing hyponad issue.

So I did, and last week began self injecting liquid testosterone in my thigh muscles, and boy, what an unbelievable difference!

It’s like the fucking fountain of youth.

Almost overnight, the moob issue began to self correct.  The nads are quickly returning to normal.  I’m now finding those dreaded 30 lbs free weight curls a sudden breeze, and, most importantly of all, my  general disposition has massively improved.

I have a new-found sense of self-confidence, so much so in fact, that I plan on getting a custom El Cid t-shirt made at Cafe Press before I go to Portugal.

Yes,  testosterone therapy is turning me into a badder than bad hombre again, almost overnight too.  Now I can strut out on to my driveway in the broiling heat of a Florida summer day and spend hours doing ostentatious yard work, as my pussy-whipped neighbors gape and cower in the underbrush.

Little do they realize what has turned me overnight into  an El Fuerte dude who fears no one, a guy who now plans not only to go to Portugal at the drop of a hat for a month, but has also found the energy to plan side trips to El Andalus, when not mapping out long hikes in the mountains trails behind Tavira. (I have, however, chickened out of our plans to visit picturesque Loulé, despite its noirish vibe.)

Testosterone therapy is, like, unbelievable, man:  it’s nuts that I didn’t do this years ago.

Well, now that I grown the cohones to stab myself with a needle every two weeks, l can honestly say that I don’t feel a day over 40 any more.


Can visiting Pornhub via Tor and having frisky risky Carlos Danger thoughts be far behind?

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Getting Around Guide to Tavira

tavira map
click or tap for a more detailed map

We depart for Tavira, Portugal on September 17th, and will be staying a month.
It is claimed in popular etymology that the word “Tavira” comes from the Arabic word طبيرة — pronounced TABIRA, as there is no “v” sound in Arabic — which supposedly means “the hidden.”
However you will find no such Arabic word in any online dictionary, and I am personally unfamiliar with that word — though I confess that my knowledge of Arabic is largely limited to Egyptian vernacular.
I also searched for it in a modern Arabic quamous, or dictionary, that I own, but didn’t find TABIRA there either.

I had more success with Lane for the word in its consonant root form طبر or T-B-R.  According to this source, Lane registers the root sound T-B-R as being associated with the concepts of hindering, or banishment, or keeping away  — which are of course connected to the notion of being hidden in some fashion.
Thus it appears that popular etymology may not be off in this regard, though I intend to pursue this linguistic inquiry with more semantic rigor at a later date. Also a friend of mine in New York who has been to this charming Umayyad outpost town informed me recently that the Portugese pronounce it “Ta-ver-a” — which I shall also be verifying.

While not playing language detective, here are some other things one might be interested in doing there.


SUP board rental
Kitesurf Eolis
8 C.C. Avenida Ria Formosa
Shop 34, Cabanas de Tavira, Tavira 8800-591

Something to keep in mind: the water/ocean is bone-chilling cold.  But bringing my wet SCUBA dive suit from the 90s would hardly work unless I lose A LOT more weight, and suddenly have the gism, or body, I did in my 40s — er, fat chance. Average water temps are 59-68F, between mid Sept and mid October.  Brrrrrrr…..


gouna tennis 1
My wife playing tennis this past Jan during our ziyyara to the Red Sea in El Gouna.

They have hard courts, if my wife is in the mood for a little tennish, while in Tavira… Nice change from the red clay of Gouna (see pic, above), which meant the balls did not bounce right for her (compared to the  tournament quality Har-Tru courts at her club in Florida, which are really well maintained), which threw her off her normal game.


Where to buy supplies near our rental flat (more expensive than main market but convenient)
LIDL supermarket
Largo Sto Amaro – Armazém Quimigal
+351 800 025 025

Couple of clicks walk back, up a hill, to our digs.  This will have a wondrous effect on our secret weight loss / getting in shape again plans!


Now this is what I call bread!

Pão alentejano and other delicacies


I wonder if we can find Portugese Castelbel soap in Tavira, which is in, um, Portugal?

This search is probably going to turn into an obsessive fixation that is going to take over our days in Tavira — my wife will not rest until she finds a box of this brand of soap.


Tavira Moorish Castle
Largo Abu-Otmane, 8800-306 Tavira

Largo has multiple meanings in Portuguese. Not knowing the language, my guess is that in this context it means square.  “Abu-Otmane” is probably this guy.


Halal side trips to Moorish Spain


bus / train rihla to Cordoba’s mosque (Mezquita)

a similarly “short” journey  to the magnificent Alhambra is also a must!

Note, there are no mosques in Tavira itself, although this church was built at the site of one of the largest Moorish masjids in the Algarve.


Source: Dear Kitty WP blog. Please visit that great blog by clicking on this pic!

Tavira architecture… especially if you are fascinated by roofs, and like excellent travel writing and super pics, there’s this and also that



a non touristy paper about Tavira’s coastline, referred to as Cell 8


great American expat meetup join in Tavira?

Casa Simao

Rua Joao Vaz Corte Real 10Tavira 8800-351, Portugal
+351 281 321 647


Best overall Tavira restaurant?  Not in our experience!


best chicken piri piri?
Cantinho do Emigrante
Praca Doutor Antonio Padinha 27, Tavira 8800-
637, Portugal +351 281 323 696

Touristy Restaurant – but decent food —
order simple meal and pay attention to bill when paying at the end
Churrasqueira O Manel
Rua Doutor Antonio Cabreira 39, Tavira 8800-

Another good restaurant / cafe
authentic Portugese food at reasonable prices

Zeca da Bica
Rua Almirante Candido dos Reis 28, Tavira
8800-318, Portugal




Mercado municipal
early morning fish market
flowers and fresh vegetables
Marzipan sweets
local honey
better prices
go early 7am

info about other markets


Biblioteca Municipal Álvaro de Campos
Rua da Comunidade Lusíada, 21 8800-397 Tavira


Cineclube de Tavira

at the Cine-Teatro AntónioPinheiro
R. Dr. Marcelino Franco 22, 8800-345 Tavira,

bicycle rental short or long term
R. João Vaz Corte Real 23A, 8800-351 Tavira

It’s flatter terrain in the Eastern Algarve, but the ride up the backcountry hills is strictly for rail-thin insect heads decked out in personalized, high visibility racing outfits. Don’t forget the narrow winding roads, the dangerous drivers who may be tipsy or going too fast or driving on the wrong side of the road, and, lastly the (many) blind curves where you won’t see the Portuguese lorry coming straight at you until the last minute. I’m planning to stay in town, and use a bicycle for shopping, unless the ride up the hill back to the apartment would require me to take mega steroid shots. In which case, it’s either hoofing the 2 miles, or tuk-tuking it, just like in Gouna, except at 20+ times the price (20 euros or so vs less than 1€ in Egypt). 


gouna tuk tuk
The blight of Gouna: loud, dangerous, and the drivers all smoke

Tuk Tuk Tavira
R. Alm. Cândido dos Reis 43, 8800-318 Tavira

Black Anchor – Irish Pub
free wifi
Guiness on draft
great fish and chips
football matches
nice river view
This is a popular haunt allegedly favored by Malāmatiyya posing as regular Brits, that is to say, Moslem mystical heretics in Union Jack disguises who invariably say “jolly good!” and “brilliant!” while pretending to watch whatever Premier League footie match’s on TV, as they slyly down 6-8 pints per game.
Rua Borda d’Agua de Asseca
Tavira 8800 – 325


faro airport transfer
private car to airbnb rental apt
pay upon arrival


get 200 euro from atm machine at faro or amsterdam airport
then find money changer / cambios in tavira


Tavira train station

Might turn out to be essential, should my wife and I end up traveling to El Andalus for a few days. I would like to revisit Algeciras and Gabal Tarek, which I have not seen since the early 70s.

Then again, we could always just bring this interesting sounding paperback along, hang out on the balcony of our flat with regrettably far-off Tavira rooftops views, and read it.

But given why I really am going to Tavira, such time might be better spent finishing reading at last Goytisolo’s Count Julian.  I  bought the original US 1974 Viking edition (see below) when it came out, but parted ways with it during one of my many impecunious peregrinations.  But I was a young man then, and though by literary instinct attracted to the right books, that is to say, novels about the dispossessed and broken and those who lived in a state of exilic hell, could not quite get past what I then thought was the showily if not self-indulgent run-on style Goytisolo employed in Count Julian, a book whose theme would suddenly become immensely important to me many decades later, though I was to never forget its opening line gambit:

“Harsh homeland, the falsest, most miserable imaginable, I shall never return to you… .”

update:  My wife bought Night Train to Lisbon.  I am reading Disquiet, a library copy, prior to leaving and bringing these paperbacks with me.

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walking tours

I’m not one for guided group activities, which I can’t stand, but this sort of thing might be a necessary evil, as I do not plan to rent a car but do wish to at least attempt moderate hikes in the back country. There are many useful links on various Algarve/Tavira-related blogs as to where to find good hiking trails in the area. Serious hiking seems to be a popular activity here. Perhaps that is because it’s where the best hikayat are born.


Friends of Bill
Ginasio Clube Tavira
Largo Dr. Jose Pieres Padinha 10
88000-022 Tavira
Thursday 7:30pm

This, of course, is where the Malāmatiyya repair to confess and repent, at the risk of being shunned in the Arab quarter by the judgemental Mudéjar.

leaving america