Almost a week has gone by since moving in to the new villa in El Gouna, Egypt.
It is located on a beautiful lagoon near Abu Tig marina, on the road to the Sheraton Hotel, and the view is stunning. I wish I could describe to you the profound sense of regained place — in a misty-eyed manner of speaking — I feel when I look out to the Red Sea or breathe in the garden-scented air (alas, no Night Jasmine) and revel in the fact that I am again, after so many years, back in my own country at last (even though everyone calls me “Mister”), and will have remained here, by this coming April, for seven amazing but semi grueling months.
But all is not roses.
Here are my impressions/experiences so far, after a week in this new villa, as my wife (who came to visit for a few weeks in late December when I was at the West Golf villa, but is back now in F-L-A) and I decide if we want to return to Gouna in the Fall for an extended period of time:
1) the front door locks had to be changed the day after I moved in. I almost locked myself out at night because the keys almost did not work. There is no way the real estate agent did not know how bad this door lock was, and it should have been fixed before I moved in
2) the downstairs bathroom does not work. A plumber came and said he could not fix it because the flushing mechanism inside the toilet is foreign and he does not have spare parts
3) the double glass door to the veranda outside is unusable. Because of the shoddy carpentry, it is quite dangerous to use this door (the glass tilted back and almost fell off the last time I tried to open it). So now I have to go out by the front of the house to get to the back porch. this double door absolutely needs to be fixed in order not to be a danger to future renters
4) the hot water is often brown or rusty, when you first turn it on, but that goes away after a while. Still I don’t know if this water is clean or not, and I have had stomach problems for three days. I would have someone come and test the water from impurities and bacteria, although the diarrhea I have had for the last three days could be food poisoning from a takeout meal I had at Caleo’s in downtown Gouna
5) there are strange people who keep coming to examine the boat on the dock. this has happened twice already. They did not have the courtesy to ask my permission to come on to the property. In America you would call this trespassing, and people have been shot for less. (see pic)
6) there seems to be a commercial operation going on in the house on the right. I think it is owned by Orange Concept, and everyday there are many vans and cars that come to that villa at 7am. Some workers with orange caps leave their bikes there overnight (see pic), then ride the bike to Abu Tig marina, where I think they work on the Ocean Diva catamaran. I do not know if there is a zoning rule in Gouna for commercial vs residential property, but this is definitely a commercial operation in a residential area
7) there are other people who walk in front of the house throughout the day. They are either guests at the Sheraton or workers at that hotel. So there is not a lot of privacy here, if you sit in the back, and sometime the workers will try to cut through this villa to get to the street. Again, this is called trespassing in the States, whereas in Gouna it is called ma’alesh
8) I had to pick up quite a bit of garbage and loose cigarette butts in the garden at the back of the property. I don’t know who left this stuff there, but am confused as to why the gardeners did not pick this garbage up.
9) the plain Gouna TV channel lineup in this villa is quite limited, and the TV in the living room is not hi def. Unfortunately I will not be able to watch the upcoming Real Madrid Champions League games against Juventus on April 3rd and 11th without going to some smoke-filled sports bar
So these are obviously the niggly things.
Apart from the free internet, which allows me to lsisten to All In With Chris Hayes radio on YouTube, other positives are that the villa is much nicer (more light and bigger) than the one in West Golf. It is also more conveniently located, and quieter at night than the other place (although there is a lot of traffic every day on nearby, busy Ahmed Ragab street, as well as Egyptian guys on occasion talking loudly in Arabic due to the Orange Concept people next door).
But there is a big red flag looming on Friday. I spent last September through mid December in an apartment in Abu Tig marina by the Duport Club. This crass outfit — with its many noisy functions throughout the week and late into the night made my life absolute hell for almost 3 months, until they shut down in early December due to the cold.
The Duport Club is now gearing up to again make a racket on Friday with its vapidly submoronic stationary bicycle “Spinning Wheels” marathon endurance event.
You can view a previous one here.
This is quite literally going to be a circus like atmosphere, and go on well into the night, not doubt complete with the hateful searchlights they love to trot out for these types of airhead functions.
Duport so far has been quiet during my stay so far in this particular villa.
But if they start up again with their loud and unpleasant shenanigans, because the weather is warmer (which has also brought out the pestering biting flies that make walking such fun at times), and turn every weekend into hell due to my renewed proximity to the marina, I shall not be renting this place in the fall.
Finally, there is a bit of a distasteful back story to this house, which I will not get into here, that is definitely going to be in the mix of the looming decision.
Abu Tig will hopping by the time the Coptic Easter hols roll around on April 8th. I doubt I shall leave the house that weekend, which may turn out to be the last one I ever spend in Gouna, as what I look for, most of all, in a place is a sense of tranquility.
Luckily I will be missing the upcoming goofy squash Masters tournament on the last week of April, the totally pointless 4×4 desert “rally” on May 10th as well as the desperately hep groovebeat Gouna Sandbox ’18, which is sure to fill the town with drunken foreign hopheads and young Egyptian hipsters acting as if they aren’t actually Egyptian as they bump for a score.
With Hilton poised to complete the destruction of once pristine Mangroovy Beach, and construction about to commence on the fake hill towering over Abu Tig marina, this town is about to get way too crowded.
Just hope not too many will trip over the strips of wood on the primitively constructed bridge ramp that’s just been built in downtown Gouna, a structure that is too low to allow tourist buses to clear, which means that a favorite parking area for the cattle vehicles that bring portly Hurghada sun seeker geezers for a few hours to downtown stores and restaurants is now off-limits. Much to everyone’s relief, no doubt, it will still allow stalky, predatory, fume-spewing, beeping tuc-tucs to wingzing through.
I’m outta here in 24 days.
Soon thereafter, I’ll be back home in Florida, and will see my beautiful wife again after a three-month absence. The NY Jets picks third in the draft this year; Rosen or Mayfield are both ballers, and I will be happy with either one. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be wanting to watch the half-a-century-of-failure Jestonians again this coming season, now that they are about to nab their loooooong awaited franchise QB. Thirty-six days from now, on April 26th, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield will be a Jet. However, as a Jet fan posted on Jets Nation, Coach Bowles only likes vets, like Bridgewater: the older the better. If we draft a stud, I want him to play right up.
Yeah to that!