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Save the drama for your mama, Mufasa!

Written on: Monday May 12th, 2008

A journal entry from: Thailand to Turkey

It's what might very well be my last night aboard Albert II.  We are currently en route to Hurghada, the wind on our bow is gentle, a steady peach loom identifies the coast 7-10 miles off our port beam.  I am awakened at 000 hours to the sound of the cutter being dropped to the foredeck and know it is my turn for the night's watch.  I glance briefly at the sign I've taped to the ceiling above me.  "What did you dream?" it asks, but I can't recall.  I sit up and let the sleep fall from my mind, make my way to the head and relieve a little "pressure".  Looking up through the hatch, I can see most of Ursa Major, taking note we are at least roughly on course, north by north west. 
Since I might be taking a bus from Hurgada to Luxor, I spend the first hour of my watch organizing photos on the laptop, to prep them for a burn to discs.  My 4GB flash drive didn't even make it out of Thailand.  I left it in the USB slot on a computer in a cafe and it was gone, gone, gone when I remembered and went back for it a few hours later.  So I've been reduced to burning CDs and DVDs to store music, videos and photos, like the neanderthals did during the dawn of time.  Looking through the photos I realize just how many amazing things I've seen and done in the past few months.  I've been taking it for granted in some ways; not that I don't appreciate my surroundings and the experiences, it's just difficult to maintain the endorphin levels neccessary to be constantly excited.  And truth be told, I started to get a little homesick the day after I booked my return flight (May 7th, CAI to SFO).  A week before and I was entertaining the notion of staying abroad, just continuing this journey by boat for the summer and taking "The Ark" across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.  But a lot can happen in a week, and I'm glad I'll be back in CA for the summer.  I just hope I can pick up a job in fire somewhere; it seems I always manage to pick something up somewhere by the luck of the draw, skin of my teeth or whatever metaphor you care to use to explain my knack of almost always having things go my way.  It's good to be loved by your Universe! 
The last day in Port Galib was sort of a fiasco.  Jim asked me to arrange for a pick up truck to get us some diesel.  The gig there is that diesel costs about $1.20/litre if you buy it from the port, but Egyptians pick it up at the local petrol station up the road for about $.19/litre.  So the rational thing to do is have an Egyptian go fill your half dozen to a dozen 20-30 litre containers and tip him $10 for his time.  So Ibrahem arranges for a driver to meet us at the marina, but we get our empty containers together and have attracted attention.  I am stopped by about 5-7 marina workers, "Excuse me Captain, please wait.  Please call Port Control on channel one zero."   I explain I am not the captain, no I don't know where the captain is, I'm just loading these empty containers on a truck, I don't understand what the problem is.  The problem is, you want to charge me $1.2/L and I'm not going for it.  Then they pull out the big guns; the Egytian version of James Earl Jones shows up and starts laying into my driver in Arabic.  I pull the heat off with an innocent "hey, what's the problem here?" and Mufasa or whatever his name is "explains" to me that the price for fuel is only so low for Egyptians, that the government subsidizes the diesel so it can be affordable.  I counter that if it is a price for Egyptians that an Egyptian should be able to buy and sell it if they so choose, but Mufasa is having none of it.  He yells at the truck driver some more, who mumbles his responses and hangs his head in shame.  He removes the containers from his truck and we exchange a helpless look and shrugs before he drives away.  I start to move the containers back to the boats; meanwhile, Ibrahem is next in line for a grilling and beration session.  Earlier, he told me that if anyone asked he was just my friend and I picked the driver up myself; Ibrahem doesn't want any trouble with these marina guys.  So I'm sort of torn whether or not to go to his "aid".  They are speaking in Arabic so I don't know what he is telling them but he seems fairly relaxed and so I don't approach to avoid possibly screwing up his story.  I want to talk with him and find out what happened, but when I am done returning the last load of containers, he is getting in his car and leaving the marina/resort area.  I was going to go to his shop this morning, but we left early and his phone network was down when I tried to call. 
The french boat, Nizwa, came in two days before we left and Vincente made a compilation of French music for me!  It seems they are possibly going to have problems getting home, as the Egyptians are asking for a registration number, but Jocelyn does not have one, only a temporary registration from Oman (numberless) as he planned to wait until reaching France to properly register.  Now it's Catch 22, he has to have a number before he can leave, but he has to leave before he can get a number.  If that weren't enough to frustrate the man, he also is need of 2000+L of diesel.  If he can make it to Hurgada, the price there is $.35 and we've word from David and Miriam of Illusion that they aren't as adherent to the "Egyptians only" price rules. 
Ibrahem was asking me if I thought if he moved the copper plates in his shop to one corner and the refrigerator magnets to the corner the plates were in, if it would look better.  He seems to think that people will come in and buy things if he just shuffles it around in the right combination.  I start to explain to him the view that people have of Egypt.  That it is a land of mystery: deep deserts, hidden temples and pyramids, unknown treasures buried in the sand with the mummified remains of pharoahs, noble and inscrutable bedouin with the secrets of the desert swirling behind thier stormy eyes.  I tell him about Holly and what she had asked me for: something natural and mystical, something unique.  He then offered me a few things which I had to refuse as gracefully as I could:  An abalone shell, a "hand-made" knick-knack, a necklace.  I try to explain to him that the thing I am looking for can't be found in his shop, and I might very well not even find it in Egypt.  That there is only one in the world and I don't even know what it is or where it is (but that yes, I'm sure it's not half of a glazed abalone shell).  I take him for a walk, I show him the dozen or so shops that are open on his block, three of which sell the same kitsch as Ibrahem, three that sell the same papyrus prints, three that sell jewelry (two silver shops and one coral) and two selling teas/spices/perfume.  He is in a difficult position as there are only so many suppliers and so there are a limited amount of things that he can offer, but he understands that if he can offer something no one else has, then people will have no one else to buy it from but him.  All this we talked about and more, but I think he will still end up selling the same thing; he's just heavily invested in it.  I'm trying to help him be successful but I don't have the heart to tell him flat out that I think people won't want to buy his goods.  I advise him to only have one of each particular item on display, at least leaving the customer a chance to let thier imagination entertain the notion that they are purchasing a unique item, the only pyramid snow globe in the country.



From SY Quickstep on Nov 5th, 2009

Nice joprnal behr, hope you found your way home and all the things went well for you. I cant wait tio read the story of when you get a boat and sail on.. I'm sure it will be...mmm different at least.. Good luck and fair winds.