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"Port Galib" or "28 Days Later"?

Written on: Sunday April 6th, 2008

A journal entry from: Thailand to Turkey

As I sit and wait for the inteminably slow internet to load pages, I might as well write a blog, ne?  I forget exactly where I left off last time, so to review: did some excellent diving up the Red Sea coast off of Sudan, am now in Por Galib.  I met a local shopkeeper by the name of Ibrahim and we have become fast friends.  He keeps promising to set up a futbol match, but so far it has not happened due to lack of people and a flat soccer ball. :(  But we have been traveling around, talking and going to various parts of and near Port Galib.  One such place was a Sheesa bar in the bedouin style called "Cuba Cabana".  In Ibrahim?s little white car, we go racing into the night.  I don?t know how fast we were going, but it felt like about 110kph and even though that?s not so fast usually, the roads here are not as homogenous as I normally like at such speeds.  As we approached the building in the middle of darkness it was a beacon of brilliant coloured lights, somewhat reminiscient of a down home Hooter?s only even more gaudy if such a thing is possible.  Swirling rave and flashing pink and green spotlights were thankfully not overbearing as we made our way upstairs to a spread of frilled couch cushions surrounding the largest hookah bongs I have ever seen.  We chatted a bit about life, love and culture over cups of tea and I tried the apple sheesa. I did not find it to my liking; not that it?s bad or anything, but just not my tastes.  A group of Italian pornographers came in (identified as such by another friend, Ahmed) and there was a nice little ambience of music, smoke and laughter. 
A major phenomena here in Port Galib is that it feels like a ghost town. It?s not even listed as existing in the 2002 Lonely Planet: Egypt.  But not your regular ghost town; this is a major construction so everything is far from delapidated, it?s like wandering into a theme park after hours, only there are apartment buildings, empty shops and restaurants rather than rides.  I estimate it would take about 30,000 people to bring it to the activity level of a "normal" town.  You know, a few people walking on any given street, a few people in the homes with a lighted lamp, some traffic maybe?  There IS a Pizza Hut and a coffee shop "Costa Coffee" which serves caramel cheesecake, so I shan?t perish anytime soon. 
I met Ibrahim by wandering into his shop, where he sells kitsch, to put it bluntly.  And rolling papers, for your blunts I suppose, since there is no rolling tobacco.  He was friendly and asked us what we thought would sell in his shop. Billabong? Matches? Postcards?  He invited Sam and I to play futbol in the evening, and I agreed to return at 7 post meridiem.  After we left, I started to ask myself, "What DO yachties buy?"  Whenever we?ve come into a port, it seems the prevailing desire is to refuel with diesel, restock and refill the water supplies and do some food shopping.  Sometimes there is a local offering that catches your eye, but travelers soon realize that you have to carry everything you purchase.  It can?t just go in the den and be forgotten about with the rest of your porcelain egg collection.  So things we purchase generally have to be consumable or utilitarian; which led me to an idea:  What had the problems been for us here?  First, I had hiked about 4 kilometers to find a shop, purchase some food and then hike back to the boat across barren earth with my 30-40 pound load.  (I?m still sore, and that was three days ago; am I getting old?)  So transportation would be nice, or better yet, a Yacht Service that would bring groceries to the boat.  I told Ibrahim about my idea that night, and we?ve been working on it since.  Last night we sat down on his laptop and compiled a list of things that I?ve seen yachties buy and other things I know that people use: flour, sugar, ketchup, toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, olive oil, &c.  He is going to find the items then include a description; brand name, quantity/weight, prices, &c.  I typed up a heading and a closing statement for his form, the idea being that the captain can just check which goods are needed in whatever amounts, Ibrahim does the shopping and returns for exchange of goods for payment.  I told him to be as detailed as possible so as to avoid confusion and a loss of money for him. :"Tuna in oil?  I wanted tuna in water, I?m not paying for these!"  As I was putting the finishing touchs on the form (a space for the captain?s signature and the vessel name), he put his arm around me and told me I was a good friend to him, which I admit made me feel a little fuzzy.  It?s great to meet people and exchange ideas, and also music!  I gave him all the files off my Mp3 and he loaded up some music off his hard drive for me.  There is a lot of really good music over here, there?s an entire series of discs that are simply a man singing the Qu?ran.  It?s beautiful though... I think I mentioned it before but just in case I didn??t I?ll mention it again as it was a great experience.  On the night bus back to Aden from Sa?na (in Yemen)
 I fell asleep to one of these discs, and as I drifted under my conciousness I felt I could understand that a story was being told, about a line of ancestry and the tales of the children and their children?s children.  (That reminds me of a funny thing Jack Handy says: He believes in making the world safe for the children, but not the children?s children because he doesn?t believe that children should be having sex.)
Currently, we are going to continue kicking it in P. Galib until our sailing permit paperwork is processed.  Which is fine by me, I could use a little land and maybe I?ll even get to play some soccer one of these nights!
I?m a little bummed, I wrote this great poem over lunch, but then I lost the receipt paper I wrote it on!! :(