Archive for December 12th, 2007
Who knew that Christine was famous in Egypt? Kids here love saying hello to foreigners and asking “What is your name?” It’s got to be page 1 of their English textbook. But for some reason Christine got extra special treatment. Whenever I would leave her alone, she would get swarmed with young girls, asking her name and even wanting her to write something in their notebooks. Unfortunately I didn’t capture one of those moments, but here’s a slightly tamer group saying hello.
“La means No in Arabic. Learn it. You’ll need it.”
This is the most accurate piece of travel advice you will ever be given in Egypt. The reason is that shopkeepers in Egypt will try and sell you stuff, and they will try and sell you stuff harder than anyone has ever tried to sell you stuff in your life. It’s unbearable, and unavoidable too since every major attraction empties out to a stretch of 100 yards of souvenier stands. Think of it like a football field, with sand. You’re the punt returner and there’s 11 players from the ‘Galabeya Packers’ in between you and your goal, the minibus. The first few are easy to avoid.”Hello my friend…” They come racing at you, but you can see them coming a mile away, easily sidestepping them. The next group tries to seperate you from your blockers…your fellow tourists. Divide and conquer. You slow down, letting your companions take the hits and break away from the pack. The next guy comes at you, “Come look at my Bedouin scarves.” Girl stuff, excellent. He goes for Christine. You cross midfield and there’s only 1 man left to beat. “Welcome to Egypt my friend. Where are you from?” ‘Nothing today thank you.’ “American? Great country. Come look at my shop. I have many things. Buy this Sphinx snow globe. 20 Egyptian pounds. (About 4 dollars). “No? Why not? In Cairo it’s 3x as much.” ‘La La La.’ “Ok my friend. I like you, 10 Egyptian pounds. Hand made in Egypt by Bedouins.” (I can see the ‘Made in China’ sticker). ‘La La La.’ “5 Egyptian pounds. Best price.” ‘La La La’ The bus is right in front of you. “My friend, why? 1 Egyptian pound. Special price.” That’s 20 cents! Is he serious? Why even bother? You’ve reached the endzone but he won’t let go. Surely this is uneccessary roughness. Your fellow travelers start to trickle in . A cacophony of “La La La” and “Best price, my friend” fills the bus as each has their own tout attached to them. Finally, the last one arrives and the door shuts, the whistle blows and the game is over. Unfortunately, most days it’s a double header.
I thought we were the only ones doing this trip.