robertisenberg

Egypt: 10

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm

As our cruise-ship approached a lock, we were surrounded by a fleet of rowboats. The boats were manned by merchants — skinny, smiley hawkers who hurled their wares at the ship’s main deck and demanded money for them.

“One hundred Egyptian pounds!” they called.

The garments were all wrapped in plastic bags, and the merchants chucked them masterfully into the air. The sun-deck hovered over two stories above the rowboats, but somehow the merchants managed to land every throw.

“The system really depends on the honesty of tourists,” Kylan observed. “I mean, we could just keep their samples and not throw any money back, and what could they do about it?”

Luckily, the tourists were all honest enough. Still, I wished I could try the other side — working as a merchant in a rowboat, calling out prices and bargaining with pudgy foreigners. I had never considered the joys of being a hawker — the thrill of negotiation, the bazaar’s network of friendship and comraderie, the joy of fleecing an imperialist, whether he knows it or not. I could get used to that.

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