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

Shutting down

gouna egypt
I took this shot as an homage to the final credits scene in The Great Beauty

Four years ago, I wrote a fragment of a story that was republished in the Arabist.  The story was called Tourab Amsheer. Tourab means dust, and amsheer is the Coptic month that coincides with February. Often, there are dust storms during this month, and earlier  today I could not see the Eastern Desert mountains from my back porch. It may have started.

When I wrote this story, I was trapped in Florida, and Obama was still President, and the current regime had removed Morsi and I was thinking about an old writer who had seen everything that has happened in Cairo since World War II, and who was still living in his mother’s now decrepit walkup apartment in Garden City, which is an area of Cairo that used to be quite beautiful, like much of Egypt, the nostalgic prism through which I on occasion see her today.

Today I now live in Egypt, since last September, and am actually experiencing Tourab Amsheer, instead of imagining it, as I did when I started writing that fragment of a story.

I engage in mundane things, the sort of things someone who lives here does, and not just a tourist passing through. I have to pay the utilities bill later today, and after questioning the initial charges of over 5000 LE, I have now been presented with a bill of 1830 LE, or about 104 US dollars at today’s rate. Much more reasonable. A word of free advice for the would be expat in Egypt:  always demand to see pics of the meter readings, and the original utilities bill.

gouna cat
Sandy woke me up the other night scratching on the door for food

I have some other minor things to do Downtown in Gouna, like buy Sandy the cat some more food, renew my mobile phone account (2 dollars per month!), as well as a few other simple chores.

But like other days, this is most essentially a time to kick back, chill, and enjoy being an expat man of leisure, one who spends his days reading books and wondering when the pool is going to get warm enough to swim in.  I may not have much money, but in Gouna it doesn’t take that much to feel like a millionaire.

Sometimes I adopt the “Mister” persona, when it suits me to remain distant, aloof, and seemingly uncomprehending; other times I revert to the arrogant Bey attitudes of my younger days; and still at other times I am “‘Am Aly” — the pleasantly avuncular (“‘Am” mean uncle), harmless old chap that the bus drivers and downtown waiters know so well, or not at all, that they say, ala’ mahlak, take your time, when I step down the bus stairs or get up to pay the bill.

Other times I think about the characters who live here, and how some people change when they come here, sometimes for better, and other times not. We are all composites of everything we have ever been or will be one day.

I tuned the TV to CNN this morning, and watched briefly with the sound turned off the news about yet another government shutdown. Then there was a story about the 1,000 point plunge in the DOW in Trump’s bogus economic miracle.  I worked on Wall Street a long long time, but you don’t need to have done that to plainly see what transparent frauds The Donald and his weasel hustler so-called Republican friends are; you know, the erstwhile, fiscally conservative bunch.

From force of habit, I read Krugman’s piece on the deficit hawks, and started to think even more about the problems that are facing America, its appetite for endless war on Muslim lands, and what will happen to SS and Medicare, then I stopped doing that, because I don’t give a shit any more, at least, not about much of what seems to animate the Neanderthal half of the American body politic.

Or to put it less crudely, there is very little I can do about any of it, and more to the point, there is even less that America has to offer that interests me any more (other than of course my family there, including my wife, my very own Cleopatra, whom age — not that she be that or anything I’m just paraphrasing Shakespeare, man! — shall never wither, nor custom ever stale her infinite, uh, variety). It’s becoming like a separation that leads to a divorce after 50 years of marriage.  America has changed too much.  So have I. We don’t go well together any more. I don’t find mendacious, vulgar bullying interesting at any level and we didn’t come here to be subjected to another fucking tyrant.

As time goes by, I can feel it:  less and less of the Trumplandia circus act means anything to me, which has had a major positive impact on my health.  I have not felt this good in years.  I hope the coming Tourab Amsheer, which I saw as a symbol for a coming terrible storm when I started writing my unfinished story, will not last very long.

I don’t think it will.

I hope that by Fall you are going to see a lot of things bite the dust, Allah willing, and the entire world will be better off for it.

leaving america

The Plot Thickens

gouna egypt

So……… after my rental signing meeting walkout yesterday, I get a call this morning.

All my conditions are being met (see Nassabeen post, from earlier).  We meet at noon tomorrow to close the deal.

Well, unless there are some more fishy screwups tomorrow, I will stay in Gouna till April 14th, go up to Cairo by bus for 2 days, then back to the States on the 16th or so… insha’Allah.

gouna cat
Sandy can’t keep her little eyes open!

And the good thing about this new turn of the screw is:

  1. I won’t get in my wife’s way as she finishes up the Winter season at her store
  2. I get more time to walk around Gouna a lot and lose more weight
  3. I’ll be subjected to one less month of Trumplandia, before coming back
  4. I have enough Synthroid (the Graves Disease medicine I have to take to say alive) to last me till end of Avreel
  5. I get to spend a month in an even nicer place in Gouna, with a direct view of the Red Sea, during the most pleasant time of the year here
  6. This again makes possible the Marsa Alam desert safari
  7. There’s now plenty of time to visit by boat the various islands outside of Gouna

Somehow, I think this is going to work out.

I don’t like to be intimidated (who does?), but if someone is ready to stop telling me bullshit stories, like I’m some idiot, then I don’t bear any grudges, and will do the deal without any of the half truth, weasel nonsense.

Let’s see what develops bokra.

Everybody wants to rule the world.

That doesn’t work with me anymore, not at any possible level you can possibly think of playing it.

leaving america