Days are getting longer and nights slightly cooler, and I am starting to recall what it was like nearly a year ago when I moved here, and get into an autumn routine.
I get up now at 6.30am instead of 5, and there is a chill to the air, at least in the shade, until 9am. The days are still hot enough to raise a sweat when I walk to town or to swim. The big difference is that the sun used to hit the front of my house across the outer wall of the two main rooms, the bedroom and lounge, from 9am until 5 or 6pm, but now that wall is in shadow from 3pm until 10am the next day, so I can open the windows and door to catch the breeze and let the hot internal air out, and the house is cool enough to now wear lightweight clothes all day.
When I say the nights are cooler, this is a matter of degrees but having had shade on the bedroom earlier means the mattress is no longer hot. Most nights it is still too hot to cover even with a sheet, and unfortunately the mosquitoes have returned, so you choose between sweaty sheets and dozens of bites. Time to borrow a ladder, put a hook on the high ceiling beams, and put up the mossie net.
While the three storey, currently almost empty apartment building next door may mean noise and having to keep the shutters closed or make curtains when people move in, it does provide a sun block, giving me shade for a few more hours of the day than I would otherwise have. Habibi clamours to go out into the little yard as soon as the sun moves off it, and loves to sit there with my three little olive trees and citrus tree (not sure if it is orange or lemon yet, I am not a great gardener) and watch people, donkeys, and other cats passing.
I have just started to grow mint, having previously bought it at the Friday market each week I decided to save some pieces with roots still on and plant them, so I have a constant supply to add to tea and cool drinks. One of the foreign residents kindly gave me some coriander seeds and I will plant those when I get another pot and some soil (my yard is sand, so everything is in pots until I get time and energy to make a raised bed garden.
I was fortunate to visit the home of one foreign resident two days ago, he had told me about it previously and it really is a delight. Built in just 3 months, of red brick but with a natural looking external finish, you can walk up to the flat roof and survey the surrounding gardens and spring pool he shares with the neighbouring gardens.
He is only 5 minutes from town but the house looks completely isolated, from the roof you cannot see another house or the town. His own garden had already old olive trees and date palms which have produced a good yield, and he has planted fruit trees, herbs and several varieties of hibiscus for tea. It is a beautiful home, simple and spacious but a palace in that it answers every need. The main rooms are centred around a courtyard which has a simple bamboo roof and large open window, so you sit in air and dappled light. The kitchen joins directly to the large lounge room, always my ideal so you can cook and talk with your guests at the same time, not run from room to room as I do in my place.
I must add that this French man looks like a carbon copy of Anthony Quinn. The first time I saw him in town I had to try not to stare, and momentarily thought it was the actor himself. The resemblance still catches me out from time to time and I just have to sneak a look sideways at him, expecting his accent to drop and the actor to appear from behind the character of “Frenchman happily settled in Siwa”. Of course others have noted the similarity, and I would like to see photos of him earlier in life to see if these two men always looked so alike.
As for me being settled, latest disturbing news is that we now have to renew our Visa monthly. This is a real hassle as this cannot be done in Siwa and it means travelling 4 hours each way to Mersa Matruh (or further to Alexandria or Cairo, where I am told the process can be more problematic), and waiting around to get processed, and hoping all the while that your Visa will even be extended. It is a precarious way to live, and I must start to apply for residency soon. I want to wait until after the end of November elections to see how things turn and whether conditions for foreigners to stay will be improved. REALLY really hope that it becomes a simpler process. I must get my Visa sorted at end of November, so we will see.
I had not been swimming for a few days due to work and chasing work, but I went yesterday as I was really missing the water and it takes away stresses and makes me sleep better. I should try to go every day. Only having made quick visits to town in the last week meant that when I stayed in there a bit longer yesterday I was greeted with a chorus of “where have you been?”. People here really do notice if you are not around.
T has been working on his café, soon to be reopened, and the owners of the centre café at Cleopatra are making repairs to it, including impressive new steps to the second level.
I am sad that the yearly Festival, which was to be this week at full moon, has been cancelled, more on that next post.