Letting Go in 2020

It’s the second of January 2020, which means half the world has finally recovered from the New Year’s Eve hangover, and is looking into that dreaded full-body mirror.

Ugh.  Is that really me?

Ah, repentant Jan Detox is at the door, again… so full of ambition and crazy if not barely still realizable hopes!

Maybe, yes, it’s finally, finally the right time, the right moment — yet again! — to morph into the New Me.

I’m not immune to this.

I too wish to be Adonis at 20.  Unfortunately, I am fat and almost 70.

After wrestling with a weight problem since my thyroidectomy in 2014, I have tried with varying degrees of success to become thin again.

Hope springs eternal, and this year is no exception.

My goal in 2020 is to go from 270 lbs in January 2020 to 190 lbs by Nov 1st.  2020.

Not too ambitious or anything, yeah?

Helping me in this effort will be the German German shep puppy that’s going to become part of the family on Feb 1st.

Geneva (Neeva is her nick) is one the cute little pups you in the vid above; nothing like trying to train, and keep up with a vigorous, healthy, young German shepherd dog, to get oneself off the potato couch and out into the real world.

Another thing I am going to start doing is increasing the distance of my bike rides.

This past summer, I was clocking 10 – 15 miles every other day, as I cycled to a local gym for my workouts and yoga exercises. Serious bikers might dismiss this distance as amateurishly trivial, but when you weight 250+ lbs, 10 miles is a long haul, fellas, and everyone passes you by, including geezers older than even you.

But then I had my awful bike accident, and regained the 20 lbs I had lost in only 2 months.

Bummer, but I must slog back in shape (to avoid diabetes, strokes, etc), despite the pain caused by the damage sustained by my left axillary nerve due to this bicycle fall.

To this end, I’m going to resume yoga exerices, and also begin doing deep stretches in the pool.

I am also planning to engage in a variety of other types of flexiblility exercises on a daily basis, such as this, this, this and this (if, like me, you have a bad shoulder).

SOP boarding on the Loxahatchee River
Fat me on my SUP at the Jupiter inlet

Combined with a resumption of SUP boarding at the gloriously beautiful Jupiter Inlet, and consistent weight training (using 20 and 30 lbs dumbbells), I should be in much better shape by Spring — particularly if I manage to keep off the ice cream and limit myself to modest portions at meal time.

A fit body is only one aspect of my 2020 regen project.

The mind, too, must be exercised — at my age, which is currently 68, you lose it or lose it:  thus I’m planning to tackle an ambitious but necessary reading list exercise, which I will be alluding to (no more than capsule reviews or mentions!) in future posts.

In addition, I might resume developing animated Islamic motif SVGs. More on that, too, in later posts — unless a writing project I have been thinking about since Gouna takes off.

Lastly, there is the spiritual or mental health dimension of being healthy.

It’s no secret that we are living in a time when many people in America and around the world are stressed out.  Suicide is on the rise.  Many despair at having to deal with a mentally ill occupant in the White House.

Under such circumstances, being trapped in an apparently hopeless old age rut — such as the one you can easily fall into while living in Florida in a gated community — can result in lingering depression, losing interest in everything, and becoming permanently enfeebled, sick and physically dependent on others.

Travel goes a long way (haha) to way to combat this tendency.  I’ve done my bit in that regard, as you can see here from my Instagram pics of the 7-month trip I took to the Red Sea in Egypt back in 2017-18.

This year, I’m looking forward to returning to NYC, at the end of March, to attend Palestine Writes, the first Palestinian literary festival in North America.

Who knows….?

I might yet write another hikkaya this year.

As the fitness Guardian article states (see link above), the trick is to keep motivated, despite the setbacks that are bound to crop up along the way.

No reason to despair.

Waking up in the morning, at my age, is already half the battle won: the rest of the day is just icing on the cake!

leaving america

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



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


Yesterday, the United States rose again and reaffirmed the notion that we are a nation of laws — unlike, say, Egypt, or other bullshit, third-world, strong-man-rule “democracies.”

The work to undo the damage Trump and his band of grifters have done is only beginning.

This is not the time for early gloating, as the cabal of mercenary profiteers continue their assault on our country.

The notion of leaving the US now is out.

I would not want to miss witnessing the undoing of the Orange Pig first hand.

Instead, I will once again focus on weight loss, muscle-building and overall physical conditioning, reading my books, writing the occasional short story, and working diligently on the software idea that I came up with this summer.

And in two months, the weather here will become beautiful again, for an extended period of time — so why leave?

the snide smirk of a pig
We won’t be seeing much of this snide smirk in the days ahead, alas

Even if my tech project comes to naught, the very act of working on developing a complex piece of software shall serve to re-sharpen my mind at this advanced stage of my life — so, instead of kicking back in my 60s, I am now eager to engage myself in the world again, as a player, not some put-put geezer waiting in the wings to die from empty old age.

Life is becoming a pleasure, again.

First order of business: the bike rides and SUP board adventures will now resume — along with long walks on the beach, exercise swimming in the pool, and of course weight lifting and other good stuff.

Things are of course going to take a serious turn for the worse from this point on for the Orange Pig and his cabal of fantasist supporters and sleazoid henchmen.

Isn’t that simply wonderful?

I shall not be alone in looking forward to partaking in the deeply satisfying joys of schadenfreude.

Nothing quite like hearing the sound of all the little pigs squeal, as the rats jump off this stinking ship of state.

Such music to our liberal ears!

leaving america