Out of Egyptian minutes

cairo airport.jpg

I’m writing this on Saturday, April 14th, at Cairo International Airport. It’s 8am.  Three and half hours wait before I can board the flight back to NY.

I was able to access the Internet via the non-secure (ie they don’t support https) free WIFI here, but they only give you 30 minutes gratis. So I caught up on the attack on Syria; it looks like it’s over for now, judging by the news, and that my flight will leave as planned.

That’s a tremendous relief; but had the flight been cancelled or further delayed (it was originally supposed to leave at 9:30am, but now boarding is at 11 something, and the flight is supposed to take off 30 minutes past noon.

I inquired about upgrading to Business Class when I arrived from El Gouna. The ticket agent quoted $500, and apologized for it being so high, but explained to me that my ticket was class 0, which he characterized as “low-class.”

Fine, so I’ll remain in steerage with all the other low brows.

Leaving Gouna ended up being quite the adventure.

I stopped eating on Thursday, because I cannot tolerate going to the bathroom on airplanes.

By the time I arrive in NY, it will have been 3 days without food.

But Mum in NY where I am going first, before continuing on to Florida on Tuesday, is going to have some nice soup waiting for me, and some ham too.

It’s been 7 months since I have had ham (I don’t even know if you can buy it in Egypt), and one good thing about that — apart from going back to eating normal American food — is that it will be guaranteed to NOT produce stomach issues.

Then I arranged for the real estate agent to come by, so we could settle accounts. He said he would be there early in the morning on Friday.  The idea was that he would arrange for the laundry to be picked up, and would return the balance of the $200 I left him when I moved to cover utilities.

I waited and waited, trapped on my last day in Gouna waiting indoors for this guy, and then finally I was able after numerous emails to get in touch with him at 1PM and he acted like he didn’t remember that agreement.

So I said, look, I am leaving the house at 3:30am tonight, so if you want to inspect the villa for any damage and get the utilities bill for the month from Oroscom so we can straighten things out, then it better be soon. He said he would call back in 1 hour. I never heard from him again. Maybe he forgot again, or maybe he figured if he didn’t show up, that he could just pocket the difference.

I packed my bags, and threw out the garbage, and decided to try to nap at 7PM for a few hours, because I knew I wouldn’t sleep a wink on the long flight back. I set the Galax 5 on alarm for 2am, and started to doze in front the TV. Finally by 10 or so, I dozed off but woke up shortly thereafter from a stinging sensation on my hands and leg.  I looked at them, pissed; welts all over. A particularly vicious skeeter had managed to get in the house on my last night. So I sprayed myself with foul-smelling OFF!, and lit a citronella candle, and turned on all the light in the living room. I didn’t get bit after that, but I didn’t sleep either. I am really glad I am finally getting away from El Gouna pestering insects that ruin the quality of life there.

Around 2am, I shaved and showered, made sure I took care of any remaining business, and then kicked back to watch CNN on the crappy TV (non HD, and very poor reception through the standard Gouna fiber connection). As I waited for the taxi, my Mum emailed to tell me her followup visit with her doc went great, so that was terrific news.  I’m getting ready to leave and then suddenly on CNN they announce Trump is going to give a press conference about Syria. They hinted that the missile strike had already started. Shit. I mean not to be horribly insensitive, but would that mean my 12:30PM flight to JFK would be delayed even more, or worse, cancelled?

The taxi guy showed up on time, and then he basically careened at high speeds (the speedometer read 90km, or 55mph) over pitch dark desert roads with lots of speed bumps — which did wonders for my spine, and the cab’s shocks were kinda worn down — but we finally got there okay.  I left him a nice tip, because now I have to get rid of the extra Egyptian money I have left: a thick wad of bills that amounts to a little over 30 dollars.

So at this point, I am getting a little miffed.  I wanted a nice orderly exit from El Gouna, but instead of that, the real estate guy never shows, the skeeters take their vengeance one last time, Trump announced some sort of missile operation on an Arab country that’s not that far away, and I’m stuck in a car with a crazy driver in the middle of the desert and then I have to lug heavy luggage around with a sore back.


check out the spelling of “minutes”

At Terminal 2 in Hurghada, I go through the tedious two security lines (one to get in the door, the other to access the departure lounge:  it must be a make-work thingie), check my big valise all the way to NY, and wait for the plane. We board soon enough, and then they close the cabin door (there’s only one open, up front), and a stewardess (or should I say flight attendant) announces the start of the Emergency Instructions thing.

Screens drop down, and a video starts rolling.  But instead of instructions, it’s a religious person who starts reciting part of a sura from the Quran.  So here we are, idling on the tarmac, with missiles flying into Syria, and there’s that. I remind myself I have to watch the final episode of the Looming Tower on Hulu next week.

We arrived safely at Cairo airport, despite the briefly alarming Quran thing, and I went to the second floor causeway (where I hooked up with my wife in January), and ordered a large Cafe Latte. 50LE, which is highway robbery, but I have another three 50 LE bills to get rid, and lots of time to kill.  There’s three hours to go right now. I think I will at least 1 more, but only after browsing in the Duty Free shop to see if there is anything I can get for Mum or my wife that will eat up whatever Egyptian money I have remaining.

I tried to call my aging uncle in Cairo to say goodbye, but alas, could not get through: I was out of Egyptian cell phone minutes, which is kinda of shambolic.
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The beautiful game

vanishing new york

I went to San Siro last night to watch Real vs Juventus.

Sat next to two wonderful German young ladies, both nurses on vacation here in El Gouna.

Everyone was agog at the revelatory grandeur of Cristiano’s bicycle kick score, but I remember Pelé scoring many such goals, so Zizou was not giving full credit when he said it was one of the most beautiful.

People forget a lot of things.

It’s the tiresome little shits with the shot memories who like to google every assertion you make, as a sort of supplemental artificial intelligence Viagra. Looking for chinks in the armor, I suppose. Confused as to the difference between enunciate and annunciate, they punch their smartphones in renunciation, while talking emptily about how cobots will save the day.

Me, I’m going to be back in the US in 9 days. I will visit my Mum in New York, then go on to rejoin my wife in Florida. Unfortunately, right around the time the orange shithead returns to Mar-a-Bribo with the Japanese PM, Kow Tow Shinzo.

The time for being in Egypt’s El Bahr El Ahmar is almost over. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw another dinosaur or two before leaving, but that is a’adee, as the melancholic bus drivers continue to complain in Upper Egypt dialect about their worn down faux leather shoes.

It’s difficult to describe exactly how toxic the US seems from afar.

A sea of red, when all I want is Mediterranean blue.

A vile piece of garbage ensconced in the White House, and everywhere the cabal of right-wing front door bangers refuse to loosen their death grip on the throats of the American body politic.

But they will lose in November, and they will lose again in 2020.

Before that, there will much damage, perhaps irreversible.

I have been reading Jeremiah Moss’s Vanishing New York this week. I’m enjoying the stories that Moss researched about the city I have lived in most of my life.

It is as if he is yearning to return to a version of The City that he never actually knew.

I don’t want to sound like some sort of Captain Obvious Father Time crank this morning, but the truth is often you cannot go back.

Usually there is no do over. They will say, be a champion both on and off the pitch; set an example to your children. Shopworn cliches are in abundance.

But despite all the daily sturm and drang around the world, I sense there is a gathering feeling in America to limit the harm that the cheap pimps and arm-chair generalissimos are inflicting.

There is a growing revulsion, a growing disgust, as so-called strong men strut about like drag queens on some sort of ugly fascist parade.

The real drag queens do it for camp.

These spanky boys actually take themselves seriously, perhaps not realizing or caring what absurd martinets they really are. This, as American suckers continue to be taken in by the grand manipulation, which they think resonates, that it is somehow authentic as to who they are, at some absurdly primitive level.

Once in a while, someone like Cristiano will rise high above all others and show the world how the beautiful game should be played.


But for the rest of us, what is our goal in life?

Think about it for a minute, if you’re an expat, or soon to be ex expat. Or even if you go to sleep every night with a packed bag at the ready by your bedside suitcase eyes.

What is your real goal in life right now?

Why do you even exist?

Where is your elusive beautiful game?


leaving america


Long live America

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The gutsy, gusty winds of change from America seemed to have affected the reception of CNN in Gouna, which now flickers on and off, as bombs explode in Alexandria, so it is hard to tell what is going on back home.

So I’m forced to watch the Beeb, which for some reason has no such problems, as it reports mainly about Tory hard Brexit gibberish or news coming from regions few care much about.

But from what I can tell, despite these mysterious CNN technical issues in Gouna TV land, America is finally waking up, even as El Gouna wallows in its insipidly vacuous, wind-surfing, Euro-extraction raison d’être.

It’s the kids who are showing the way, as the boomer generation retreats into the angry resentment of irrelevant old age.

They have forgotten that they, too, once marched, and ended a disastrous war, and removed a sitting President. They have forgotten that they once were The Last Best Hope. They’ve forgotten how Lennon died; but I was glad to see Sir Paul has not.

sir paul.jpg

The boomers have accepted that the dreams of their youth are now a scorched wasteland, as guns in America kill more people every few years than the number of US soldiers who died in Vietnam.  A country that has 300 million firearms in private hands is not a normal place; it’s an insane asylum.

Has there ever been anything more poignant than those four minutes of silence during the March for Our Lives?

Meanwhile the impoverished haters are lurking in their trailer park homes, their fingers on the trigger, washing down their opioids with endless 24-z cans of El Cheapo Ice beer, as they clutch their Bibles, watch the right-wing terrorist network called FOX,  and turn scared that the world they were falsely told was theirs is now evaporating faster than you can say DOW meltdown.

But their kids are more than all right. They are the future.

No more guns, they say.

Let’s indulge ourselves in a naive liberal dream that suddenly seems not so far-fetched.

The possession of an AR15 should be turned into a felony.

No more permits to carry concealed weapons.

Legislate gun manufacturer liability, and level criminal charges on the activities of the NRA against the American people. Time to really regulate guns, just like cars, alcohol or tobaccee.

But why stop at guns?

No more wars. The US should withdraw from Afghanistan immediately, and close down 50 per cent of its overseas bases. Enough with the toxic Strategic Command masturbation fantasies.

Cancel the Jerusalem embassy plans. It is not the place of the United Staves to solve the problems of the Middle East.  Instead, lead by example, not by force.

The military budget should be slashed in half, with the money saved going to providing Universal health care and free state college tuition to all.

Fire Scott Pruitt now.

Cancel Bolton’s, Gina Haspel, and Pompeo’s appointments.

Get rid of Betsy Devos.

Fire Shulkin and force him to pay back all his giddy tax-payer funded junkets, not just him but any other cabinet or congressional thieves of the public purse.

Remove Neil Gorsuch and all the recent right-wing Federal judge appointees.

Preserve US involvement in NAFTA.

Cancel the tariffs.

Protect Planned Parenthood from righ wing religious nuts.

Regain Democratic control of Congress and restore America to being a liberal Democracy that all Americans can be proud of.

Time for Mueller to do his thing, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Which could lead to the festering dotard pig and his family and associates becoming permanent guests at Sing Sing.

Never again.

Long live the real America. And long live the true children of Democracy.

With a generation like this, the future suddenly again looks bright.

,Just don’t let the dream slip away, Emma, David, and the rest of the Parkland survivors. Don’t listen to the ones who are sure to see economic opportunity in parlaying your fame.

Don’t ever become like us.

Lead the way.  This is your world now.


leaving america