egyptian parrot

Babaghan in colloquial Egyptian Arabic means parrot.

Most people don’t know this, but there is a parrot in El Gouna, Egypt.  He hangs out in the dining room of the villa I’m renting for the next 4 weeks.

Now before I continue, to my wife in America, whose store mascot is in fact a Florida parrot, and who not doubt’ll be reading  this post:  your regular email account is full!

And now back to expat stories of the Red Sea.

So yesterday they displayed on a makeshift stage in Basin 1 of Abu Tig marina the FIFA World Cup trophy.  There was a lot of traffic in the area, and a big line for people wanting to get a chance to view it.

I went down there to get some supplies from Bestway, but stayed in the Basin 2 marina at 7th Star to have a Spaghetti Bolognese. It was not as tasty as I remembered it from months past.

Sitting three tables away by the entrance was a large Egyptian family.

The men of course were  on their smartphones the whole time, while the women — some of whom where in hijab attire — talked and ignored their children running around. Now this was an Egyptian family, and their kids were all speaking to one another in accented English. I mean it sounded like they didn’t even know Arabic. Then a group of young Egyptian girls and their beaux came in and sat down; same deal.

As I left 7th Star, a bunch of older Egyptian bodocious tatas decked out sleek black sleet gowns slinked by, no doubt on their way to some function at one of the dance clubs around here.

I walked back home with a few cans of foul medames, and went to sleep concerned about the search lights up in the sky: that was always a sign of impending trouble when I lived in Abu Tig marina itself.

But nothing happened. There was a fireworks display around 11pm but that piffled out in short order.

I went to sleep with the windows open, giving me a view of the cove in front of the villa that leads to the Red Sea itself.

The night was calm, and a light breeze made the wind chimes on the verandah tinkle as I drifted off to sleep. It’s odd how the sea air in Gouna does not smell of salt.

Soon, I found myself in a dream with the parrot from the living room downstairs.

He told me about this house, and who did the carpentry work, and all about it’s management layer, and those who worked for it who were fired, and much other largely sordid supposedly inside info about what goes on in general with the rental of Gouna homes that only parrots know.

Good thing all is well with America, where it’s normal for the President of the United States to hire Hulk Hogan’s lawyer to represent him in court against a porn star

I woke up around 6am, made Turkish coffee, and gazed out at the pink sunrise over the Red Sea.  No mosquitoes last night, and absolute quiet all night.

I decide to heat up some foul, and turned on Gouna Radio for some eclectic chill music.

This was going to be a good day.

leaving america



So far, so good?

gouna egypt

Now this is what I call an entrance

Here are my first impressions of the new villa in Gouna, Egypt, that I moved into yesterday. I will be staying here a month, making it a 7-month stay in my first foray overseas as an expat from America.

It is quite obvious from the news with each passing day that something increasingly sinister is going on in the United States. This is going to play into the decision by my wife and I to return to Gouna in October for what may end up being a 9-month stay, but is far from being the only consideration for such a move. I have a couple of weeks before I have to tell the real estate agent we want to book the place in the Fall long term; this way the joint doesn’t get rented out from under us.

Last night I slept in the bedroom on the top floor of the villa; it has a commanding view of the cove and the Red Sea in the distance.  Bad mistake.  Though the bed was nice and big, I woke up at 2AM with terrible lower back pain.  I should not have risked sleeping on a bed with as soft a mattress. I took a blanket and spent the rest of the night on the floor in the living room in with CNN on. By morning, the back situation had improved. Luckily there are two other bedrooms in the villa, and the larger of the two with an equally pleasant lagoon view has a nice big bed with a hard mattress. That’s where I’ll be sleeping tonight.

gouna egypt

View of the back terrace and pergola

I am back again to being near Abu Tig marina.  But unlike last time (Sept – Dec), I am on a cove that is on the other side of the marina. My previous stay at Abu Tig was a nightmare, due to all the noise.  The situation here is quite different.

Even though there was a lot of noise in the marina due to some apparently by-invite-only World Cup display event at the same theater where they had the film festival ceremonies last year, the dawsha (racket) was definitely bearable — thanks to a greater distance from Abu Tig, and houses on the other side of the cove that block the noise, which was not the case when I was renting the apartment in the marina itself during my first 3 months in El Gouna.

gouna egypt

I plan to swim here this afternoon

I think I finally will be able to swim in Gouna (beyond the one time in late September when I paddled about on Mangroovy Beach).  This cove is perfect for taking morning or afternoon dips. With both Abu Tig marina and downtown Gouna within easy walking distance, I should finally be able to make additional headway attacking the fat belly monster issue.

gouna egypt

the cove in front of my villa, and the Red Sea a few hundred feet away. The Sheraton hotel grounds are on the right

Let’s see how it goes.  I really like this place, even though there were issues with the front door (the lock does not work properly), and one of the bathrooms was running continuously; in addition, there was an issue with one of the windows in the dining room. But I called the real estate agent handling the property, and he immediately arranged for Orascom to fix it, which happened this morning.

Overall, I would give the place a B+ (for the view and location).

gouna red sea

It’s kinda windy up here!

It does not get an A because the owner tried to be too clever by half with odd carpentry (leading to unstable window treatments and weird verandah glass doors that tilt backwards if you turn the handle a certain way) and overly elaborate electrical circuitry schemes (for instance, you have to specifically activate with its own button each separate plug connector in every wall socket).

Nevertheless, so far, so good, with one important caveat:  the front door was left open for an hour when they changed the locks, and critters from the garden flew in. So now the place has gone from being bug free to hosting these massively irritating skeeters and other strange flying insects that abound in Gouna.

gouna egypt

They flew in from here

In addition, a huge fly and a wasp flew in when I opened the verandah doors for a few minutes to let in some fresh air.  It does not have a screen.

I have grown rather weary of having to constantly deal with this sort of thing in Gouna, and I am already starting to dread the approach of evening when they will pester me for hours on end. Maybe this just isn’t the right place for us after all, despite how much I like so many things here in Gouna, and Egypt in general.

Exactly 30 days before I leave on Saturday, April 14th.

Will it be for good?

leaving america

Gouna’s wild dogs

egypt wild dogs

Look closely, and you will see them running at the edge of the water

Did not see Sandy the cat last night (but she showed up eventually), and this morning at dawn I heard wild dogs barking.

I have talked about wanting to hike up the nearby mountains before I leave this part of Gouna. You can glimpse their low silhouette behind the houses in the pic I took of the dogs.

Turns out that would be a very bad idea indeed.

Here’s why:

  1. the authorities could take me for some sort of drug smuggler
  2. Bedouins could boing me on the head, steal my watch and money and leave me for dead
  3. mosquitoes would suck me dry, and give me dengue fever as a bonus
  4. scorpions
  5. snakes
  6. I could get lost or injured and die of thirst all alone in the desert where cell phones don’t work
  7. a pack of wild dogs could make short work of me

So to heck with that.

I’m going to focus today on packing my bags, and getting ready for tomorrow’s move to the new villa.

Last night here was horrible; the mosquitoes are back, and impossible to kill (update: I finally murdered the sucker this morning with a plastic fly swatter, which you must have when in Gouna). Having to spray myself with OFF! has made my weak immune system react very badly, and plus which I was bitten anyway.

I feel like a peckerhead from constantly being attacked by these insects, as well as having to have all these nasty chemicals on my skin, and hope the windier conditions at the new place will mean fewer mosquitoes — although no doubt they will be hiding inside the house in the bathrooms.

I am really getting sick of the bugs here; even sitting outside is a drag because of biting flies and the lack of lanai screens in Gouna.

This means I have rarely been able to sit outside by the freezing cold pool (tip, if you rent a villa here in winter, make sure the pool has a heater) and simply enjoy the place without constantly having to deal with these bloody insects.

Pity, that.

I can’t wait to move to the new place.  It is 7am, and the ORASCOM pool guy just showed up.

I am also so sick of having these guys come onto this property every day unannounced and at random, and have never felt comfortable here for that reason — it’s like a daily invasion of privacy and it SUXXXXX.

Between the bugs, the loud Italians who own the place next door, the wild dogs, the annoying feral cats, the lack of anything other than relentlessly sportif things to do (assuming, man-bun habibi, you’re a twenty-something enjoying Daddy or Uncle’s free-ride allowance), such as  incessantly  kite boarding and scuba diving and renting buggies to flatten out some more dunes, or the hassle of having to constantly take the spine-busting bus (because the villa I am currently in is located in a far outpost of El Gouna), not to mench the general weirdness of the somewhat louche people who live here (or rather, the ones who have homes here, but are constantly flit gunning it in and out of Gouna like they’re on the run or can’t stand to be here for more than a few days or weeks at a time), as well as the creepy presence of these shadowy characters in the yard, I have just about had it with this place.

Despite the despicable nature of Republican politics in the US, I look forward to seeing Mum and my wife next month.

Don’t think I’ll be coming back right away, if, for no other reason, than to again start getting a normal night’s sleep every night, instead of  having suitcases under my eyes from constantly doing nocturnal battle in mosquito hell.

But I will miss the mahshi (which I was finally able to get) and bamia with meat at Caleo’s, which is absolutely the most fabu, unassuming, and reasonably priced restaurant to have good Egyptian food in all of  El Gouna.

And losing about 40 lbs from eating healthy (by sticking with eats from Kan Zaman, Zomba, and Caleo ) and walking about every day hasn’t been that shabby either.

And being 10,000 miles away from Florida’s geezer mudder duckers has done wonders. You try pulling any of that Stand Your Ground shit around here, pendejos, and you will either be hanged or spend the rest of your life in an Egyptian jail after the cell door goes click.

What else?

The gossip and titbits of inside info about El Gouna — which I have not talked about much in this blog — have been nothing less than priceless.

Plus, nobody’s gotten shot in Gouna since I’ve been here, which is not what you can say about Florida or New York, even though I have yet to see a single arrogant, looking-to-ruin-your-day cop — you know the type:  the crew-cut goons with the bulging biceps who look like all they do is pop steroids and hang out at Gold’s gym on their off hours — swaggering around Gouna with guns and a tazer and handcuffs hanging off his belt.

And in two days, as Gouna eases into the most pleasant part of the year, I will be staying for a month in a beautiful villa right by the sea (not on one of those artificial “lagoons” that are nothing but unattractive, shallow canals dug in the sand, like the situation in this place) for only a stack, plus utilities. Try pulling that off in the South of France or FLA.

Finally, jeez, in the six months I have been here, I’ve yet to see a single sign of a brown tide, or of fish flopping on the beaches from being poisoned by toxic runoff — unlike the situation on the Treasure Coast, where I live, and where the fabled intercostal waterway that is one of the reasons I stayed there for sixteen years is dying, and massive plumes of black sludge and flesh eating bacteria are now a regular feature of the once pristine litoral.

So I am not really dumping on El Gouna– just telling you, dear blog reader, the real deal about what is has been like for me to come to the Red Sea out of nowhere from America and proceed to live here for a longer stretch of continuous time than most people who own homes in this part of the world and don’t have a job that forces them to stay put in Gouna, but have the means to flit about, hither and yon, sort of like roaming packs of wild old dogs.

leaving america