|A young boy attempts to sell postcards to a disinterested tourist.|
We were accosted by sellers everywhere we went during our visit to Egypt. They always had just the thing we needed to make our lives complete.
There was a certain amount of regulation in place. Near the souk in Cairo a young fellow, similar in age to the one in the above photo, tried to sell us scarab carvings. In a few minutes the police had him in a headlock. Our guide told us the boy was selling without a licence.
For the most part the hawkers went about their business on everyone they could find. We were advised to not make eye contact. If asked a name we should make one up. Do not follow a seller in a market into a store.
I broke all of those rules at one time or another, but I have pretty good sales resistance and I enjoy saying no.
One evening a woman near tears with a babe in arms pleaded with me as I tried to get on the bus. While I didn't understand her words, I am sure she was pulling the "My baby is sick and needs medicine" or "I need money to feed my baby" scam. I saw it many times in Cuba.
Our guide seemed surprised that this happened, but he agreed it probably was one of these scams.
I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for these hawkers, especially the young ones. Education is free in Egypt. If you get really high marks your post-secondary is paid for as well.
But not everyone can get high marks. Maybe this is all they thought life could offer them.
I like to think that with ouster of Mubarak things will have changed for the better on every level. The dependence on tourists will be for legitimate sales, not desperation.