The heat is on

gouna poool

It’s the right toe and knee that still throb

Third day in a row that the daytime temps are reaching the low to mid 80s in El Gouna, Egypt, as opposed to the awful nor’easter weather poor Mum has had to endure back in Westchester.

Here’s what’s going on.

Turned on the AC in the TV room for the first time this morning. With the low wind, and the heat, flies and skeeters are back, necessitating that I retire at night to sleep in The Tower of Isolation.

Today’s two big events: the pool and the match.

I may be able to finally use the beautiful pool that I’ve only looked at since moving to this villa in mid December. Up until now, it was cold as ice, but now the harara is climbing enough during the day that it may be comfortably swimmable by early afternoon — we shall see; as I noticed when I went to take the pic you see above that some weekend mamelukes are shouting in that bullshit macho way that Egyptian guys love using when talking on the phone, and the irritating sound’s coming clear across the lagoon.

Also, I don’t know if there is chlorine in the pool; don’t smell it, at any rate.  Many birds stop by here to wet their beaks. With my toe injury still healing, could I contract avian flu by swimming in gorgeous but contaminated water?

The other big excitement around will be to watch Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid at 5:15PM.

For the past weekend, I cut down my consumption of food to 1 bowl of peanuts (for the protein) a night + plenty of water + vitamins + the Synthroid pill I must take every day to continue living. I keep forcing myself to eat this way as some of the stomach and face fat has been quite reluctant to come off, but come off it shall; I’m going to force the issue now.

But for the first time. I am starting to see the faint outline of my cheekbones as the jowls slowly melt away in the desert heat.

I have not been able to walk much during the past 3 days due to the fall I sustained a few days ago outside (just a knee scrap and bruised wrist) and injured big toe, but I am being careful:  I am using antibiotics and real Listerine (alas now gone, and which cannot be replaced here except with a zero alcohol version, which makes it useless to treat wounds, and you cannot even buy rubbing alcohol in the pharmacy here), and making sure the toe doesn’t get infected.

Also the pool push ups that were working so well to vaporize the moobs have stopped temporarily as my wrist heals from that nasty fall, which, I hate to say it, was caused by Sandy the cat who darted in front of me as I was going down the steps outside taking out the garbage.

So the way it looks now, I move out of here between next Tuesday (the 13th of March) and Friday (the 15th), and depart Egypt entirely on Saturday the 14th of April.

I will probably stop by New York on my way to Florida, and spend a few days with my Mum, who is going through a rough patch @ the moment. I most likely will not pass by Cairo and see my relatives there on the way back, for a variety of reasons, including the heat and hassle of it all.

The news from America keeps getting stranger and stranger by the day.  The latest titbit of White House corruption to interest me involves Jared and the UAE and a shadowy Arab-American figure called George Nader, much if not all of this delicious development has gone unmentioned in quasi official media here.

This Trump White House is turning into some old school American spy novel, which each new revelation being some horrible page-turner reality show disguised as plot twists in some masterful International cloak-and-dagger fiction: the mad President, the corrupt son-in-law, the dishonest sister, the Likudi prime minister staying one step ahead of the police, the grifter-glam daughter, the ex con Joisy father-in-law, the shadowy Lebanese operative, the deeply compromised porcine Americo-Jewish Trump fund raiser, the swarthy Gulfies in beards and flowing robes, and the money, always the money in some cynical political exchange in return for providing the means to keep afloat the white albatross of the Manhattan building aptly known as 666, which I actually went to for a legit job interview in the 80s, not realizing I could sell America down the toilet as part of some real estate deal, instead of actually, you know, holding down a real job.

The heat is on, and it’s going to get a whole lot hotter by the midterms.

You can count on that, especially if current majorities in the House and Senate are preserved by outright voter fraud, gerrymandering, the attempts by Republican legislative scum to kneecap the Mueller investigation, and further Russian manipulation of Trump’s eleemosynary base, who mostly get nothing but scraps off the Mar-a-Lago table, as ultra rich swine dine together in ever extravagant luxury, not believing their luck, as the sadly uneducated old geezers in trailer parks who barely get by on SS checks and Medicare, SNAP, Medicaid and SS disability payments, continue to swallow the Big Fat Republican Lie, no matter how manipulative the FOX news crowd gets, no matter how much damage these craven people are doing to the United States and its interests at home and abroad, no matter how tragically American society in the devastated heart of the country turns into an opioid-infested, gun-loving death cult that is self-imploding on an accelerated basis, wherever you look that once used to matter.

It’s going to be harsh, brutish fun to watch in the coming months all that unfold, but meanwhile I still have 6 weeks to enjoy life in the complete slice of unreality that is here in El Gouna.

And that’s how it is, today, on Sunday March 4, 2018, on the shores of this deeply superficial, snotty Egyptian resort, where my knottiest problem today is, should I dip my toes into the pewl, or not?


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The SD Card Reader Blues

UPDATE: I went downtown and ordered the flash card reader. It should arrive at noon tomorrow. By the way there was no 12 o’clock bus to take me there from my house; so I waited around for a while, then finally it came half an hour late. New bus driver. These guys don’t seem to last long; the Gouna bus service is, as usual, an abomination — with the lack of suspension, no AC, and doors that do not open properly. It was hot downtown, so all the pestering biting flies were out, so I just came right back, instead of having a pleasant lunch as was planned. I’m in no mood for the Gouna micro Egypto chaos scene today, which downtown was, despite the main square being empty, except for lots of shisha people sitting around throwing off massive carcinogenic pollutants, and tuc tuc shitheads pestering “Misters” every which way but loose, and storekeepers doing their brain dead “ha-lo, ha-lo, welcome to Egypt” moronic thing anytime time they spy a tourist within earshot;  I don’t have to be subjected to any of that crap. Meanwhile a bunch of what are called here “guests” seemed to have rented the place next door for the weekend, for as I waited for the noon bus that never came, five young greasers that I’ve never seen before, all packed in a dented white sedan, swerved into the driveway next door, and then I heard the unmistakable clinking sound of cases of Instant Courage being unloaded from the trunk, and lots of raucous laughing, as they scurried around the place like talking roaches. Moments later, the music started up. This promises to be yet another Gouna weekend from hell. Good thing for me I have earbuds and a comp and a TV that can I can blast all night. Good thing for them it’s not ’85.


It’s warmed up today, so I’m going to town to have lunch and buy a replacement for my SD card reader, which I cannot find anywhere. I must have left it in the Abu Tig marina apt when I moved here.

Too bad I can’t simply slip the SD card from my camera into the Chromebook Plus, but’s it’s a micro SD card slot, so it won’t fit.

sd readerI’ve put in a formal bid for renting the new villa, and am awaiting a response.

I also called Cairo to make sure my relatives will be around when I go back up in two months.

If the rental goes through, I plan to to take the el cheapo GO bus to Cairo around mid April, then hop on an Egyptair direct flight to JFK, then maybe stay in NYC for a few days, or maybe not, before returning to Florida.

Should everything go okay, I will be back here in early October, and stay for 7 – 9 months — far FAR away from all the you-know-what from you-know-where about you-know-who.

Good grief.

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No fakka in Gouna


Various denominations of EGPs, including two 1 LE coins, which are essential as fakka’, or change, in Egypt

When I was a boy, it cost 10 Egyptian piasters to take a white and dark blue taxi from North Zamalek, where my family lived, to the Lycée Français in Bab-el-Louk.  The ride took 10 minutes at most.

This was circa the mid 60s.

Today, that same taxi ride can take 20-25 minutes (if you are lucky) and will usually set you back 10 to 30 LE (a stunning increase, in my opinion, shaded as it is by the memory of the way things were during Nasser’s era), depending on whether the taxi driver (in the new, supposedly more honest white taxis) has turned on his addad (meter), and whether or not you are a tourist.

If you speak Arabic, as I do, but fail to notice that the cabbie has turned on the meter (or if he simply refuses to turn on the meter, which he will do if going to Cairo Airport, which should set you back no more than 100 LE, at current rates), you will arrive at your destination and realize that there is no official fare (unless you were smart enough to not set foot in the taxi without first agreeing up the fare, especially before going to Cairo Airport, or some other distant destination).  When you ask how much, you will be invariably be told, “whatever it is that you think is right,” or some annoying variant thereof.

But if you think that, say, 20 LE is right, the driver will usually pull a face and begin arguing with you about the price of gas or that he needs to put 9 children through school or some other sob story.

In such instances, the best thing to do is say il-barraka-lillah (good things belong to or come from Allah), and be on your way with dispatch.

But if the meter was actually turned on, and the fare at your destination reads, say, 15 LE, you will find that no taxi driver in Cairo will have the 5LE change that is owed back to you, if you hand over, say, a 20 LE note.

This is Egypt’s hidden No Small Change tax that every tourist faces.

The same thing applies in Gouna.

More often than not, if you shop for groceries at Safeway or one of the other “supermarkets” (these are tiny affairs, compared to their American equivalent, with narrow aisles that are usually zahma, or crowded, especially on holidays), you will be given tiny Chiclets boxes as change.

Sometimes, if the checkout person thinks your’re a wealthy but clueless tourist, you will not be given change at all.  This happened to me the other day, when I bought some items at the Ebeid supermarket that totaled 83 LE, and was wordlessly given back 15LE in change from a 100 LE note.

I had to ask for the missing 2 LE back, which made the cashier pull a sour moue, as he gave me two 1 LE coins to me in a manner that indicated a sense of deep contempt for my miserliness.

So why is this so?

Egypt suffers from massive inflation that has averaged, in recent years, 20 to 30 per cent annually.

The inflation rate is so high that entire denominations have disappeared — the millim (1/100 of a piaster),  nekla (or 2 millimes), ersh (or piaster), shillin‘ (5 piasters), bariza (10 piasters), and reyal (20 piasters), have all disappeared.

The slang terms bariza and reyal, actually, are still used, but indicate 10 and 20 geneihs (a term for the Egyptian pound, derived from guinea, a throwback reference to the 79-year British occupation of Egypt), respectively.

Moreover Egyptian money slang has been hyperaugmented with the terms baku (ie. “pack,” for 1,000 EGP, as there is no letter “p” in Arabic), arnab (ie “rabbit, for 1,000,000 EGP), and feel (or “elephant,” for 100 million EGP) — that latter two unimaginable sums in the 60s in Cairo, when an engineer earned about 30 LE a month, and a luxe apartment overlooking the Nile rented for 50LE).

The bottom line is this.

If you are visiting Gouna, make sure you stop by one of the banks in town, and ask for change of a 200 LE note (this is roughly 20 US dollars).  Ask for a few 20s, 10, 5s, and a generous dollop of 1 LE and 50 piaster coins. The bank cashier may or may not accommodate you, but all you can do is try.

This will save you from being forced to accumulate unwanted tiny boxes of Clorets.

On the other hand, this tactic will force you to carry around huge wads of usually worn out, dirty-looking money.

It’s for this reason that a Clorox handi wipe, or its equivalent, is essential in Egypt, if you handle money prior to, say, having a meal.

Nevertheless, such a precaution is the only way to fight back against the rampant Hidden No Small Change tax that will drip drip drip many pounds away from you if you stay any length of time in a touristy place like El Gouna.

You can thank me for this travel tip later on, that is to say, you can zabbatni, meaning “even me out,” a slang expression favored by many Egyptian parasites, in Gouna and elsewhere, looking to make a quick geneih in return for performing a (usually trivial)  service, but know in advance that I absolutely have no fakka today.

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