Monday, July 30, 2007


Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
One of the less attractive features of Egypt is the tendency for people to come up to you in public places trying to sell you things. At practically all the ancient sites that we visited there seemed to be a collection of tiny shops between the place where you bought your entry tickets and the bus parking area. This would have been OK if you were simply left with the option of going into the shop. Instead, the shopkeeper would assail you on the way back to the bus and try to sell you a shirt, a guide book, etc. After our visit to the Valley of the Queens one guy seemed to lock onto me like a tourist-seeking missile. Despite my persistent attempts to shoo him away, he was determined to sell me a shirt and the price he was asking dropped precipitously. By the time I got to the bus he was almost offering to pay me to take the item!

The most extreme example we saw (see picture) happened when the cruise boat stopped waiting to get through the lock at Esna on the way to Aswan. Several little boats swarmed around our boat and the people on board repeatedly threw goods (mainly galabeyas) up onto the cruise boat in the hope that someone would throw money, rather than the unwanted galabeya, back.

I suspect many of these folk are pretty poor, and I'm obviously sympathetic, but I really can't imagine they make much money by using these tactics.