May 22, 2009

Green Beach Cottage Apartments
Nuweiba, Egypt

Green Beach Cottages

Green Beach Property Outline

Tatiana and I had been casually eyeing the trio of small apartment-style cottages setup towards the rear of the Green Beach property for the better part of the day. And once we had a look inside, nothing could shake the word upgrade from our minds.

It wasn't like we weren't enjoying lounging in our 25EGP (US$4.45) hut on the shore, but there were some issues that were already impacting us:

  1. The mosquitoes really come out at night around here. It's so bad that unless you're wearing a layer of DEET we'd have to spend dusk until dawn trapped under the mosquito net covering our bungalow's foam mattresses… Not to mention that lovin' with your lady covered in insect repellent and smothering under a stuffy net isn't exactly a desirable atmosphere for romance.
  2. The showers and restrooms are on the far end of the property, by the road.
  3. There's no audible privacy from your neighbors, should there ever be more guests here than just us. You can easily hear everything from dozens of feet away—particularly after nightfall.
  4. Rodents: After just one night a field mouse had already discovered our food and chewed through some of our provisions.
  5. Space: We're basically unable to unpack in any way, as there's not much of any place to put things. We're also mindful that bugs and animals would love to move into our clothes. Belongings pretty much have to stay inside zipped backpacks.
  6. But most importantly, above all else, is the poor security of our belongings. I'm using my laptop and camera in plain sight, and of course the vendors passing by have seen me doing this. Now these people might not be thieves, but they might have acquaintances that'd be happy to know of the foreign family with lots of loot being kept inside a hut of reeds (secured by a rusting hasp lock that could be easily pried off the frame).

Green Beach Bungalow Reed Wall

I lovingly asked Tatiana to speak with Nasser al-Din about moving over into a cottage, and how much that might cost.

We really liked Nasser (and clearly he us), and knowing that we intended to spend at least a week or two with him was more than happy to give us a nice discounted rate for the room… just 50EGP ($8.90) per night.

Oh yes, we were more than happy to pay twice the rate of the simple beach hut for the cottage upgrade. Better yet, it was no problem to continue using the beach bungalows during the day for lounging, as if we'd never left the shore.

Note the wardrobe that we were able to unpack everyone's clothing into—Tatiana was particularly happy about that. Also, such places are excellent for locking your valuables beyond a simple room key (see previously: Padlock for Locking Closets and Wardrobes).

Cottage Bathroom: Note the welcomed water heater, as the water for the shower was sometimes too cold without it (and probably killed off some the nasties living in it).

View from Cottage Patio

Unfortunately…

Alas, yes… There's certainly a downside to the cottage.

You see, buildings made of concrete or mud/straw generally do well in desert, tropical and subtropical climates. The inside of these rooms can be kept amazingly cool if ventilated properly. (Where concrete fails really is in anything but the mildest winters, as that cold is kept locked inside the walls.)

Buildings made of wood are excellent for climates with fluctuating temperatures. In North America we generally build our homes out of wood because it's a resource that's readily available and (compared with concrete) is a good insulator against the cold.

Unfortunately—yes, I was going somewhere with this—the cottage apartment that we're now staying in was created with concrete walls and an exposed wooden ceiling.

Simply put, all that HEAT (we're in the 90°F and up range here) bakes down in through the wooden ceiling throughout the day and gets trapped inside the concrete room.

Sure, it looks great, but it's a goddamn oven in the room every hour of the day. Even with a desk fan running 24/7 the place is impossible to keep cool.

And of course the mosquitoes love us trying to dine on us here as well. The only solution we've got is to close the two smaller windows (on the sides of the cottage) at dusk and use the mosquito net I carry in my backpack as a makeshift screen. Of course, this only adds to the overheating problem during our sleeping hours, but at least we're not getting bit and we've got loads of room to move around in after dark.

Mosquito Net Used as a Window Screen

Note: Nasser actually had air-conditioning units for the cottages waiting to be installed, but this never happened during the two weeks we spent at Green Beach. If he could've done it himself he would've, but he was stuck waiting on Arab-time for lord knows how long.

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