We needed to buy Galabyas to wear on the ship for the Egyptian evening. These long comfortable looking Egyptian robes were in abundant supply hanging outside numerous street stalls at the entrance to most of the temples and tombs we were visiting. Our guide Mohammed had recommended one particular vendor so after doing the rounds of the tomb we headed in his direction. Walking swiftly past at least 20 vendors holding out alabaster vases, basalt carvings, scarves, paintings – “Two for fifty – no four for twenty – how much do you want to pay. You tell me, come on – very good quality. Made by my grandfather – hand made – no tools. Why you not buy? How much you want to pay?”
We started out on the premise that a galabya would cost about 50 Egyptian Pounds (around USD 8) so a couple of those would set us up for the evening ahead. I happened to see a nice white cotton top – no problem – in the bag it went – along with two galabyas and a free tea towel – oh yes and a book.
“But how much is the cost?” we asked.
“Don’t worry about the pricet” he said charmingly – kissing me on the cheek and putting free postcards into the bag – well not really free.
“What else do you want?” – small shirts were flourished – maybe gifts for children.
“But how much?” we asked again.
“Don’t worry about the price – I look after you. I give you a good deal. I give you the best Egyptian cotton. None of this polyester – look at this cotton. Feel – no please my friend – feel the material. This is good.”
“Don’t worry about the cost,” he said. Wrapping it all up in a plastic bag.
Finally…. The moment of truth.
900 Egyptian pounds – WHAT? That’s just over $100US – are you mad? Two galabyas, two shirts and a free tea towel. I don’t think so.
“No – that’s too much – anyway we don’t have that money with us. We didn’t expect to buy so we didn’t bring much money.”
“How much you got?”
“Seriously – we have $43 US and 100 Egyptian pounds…. That’s it. So leave it – that’s fine. We don’t have enough money to buy. Sorry.”
“No, no, no. Wait a minute. Give me English pounds – that’s fine.”
“We don’t have English pounds – we are from Canada and this is all we have”. Taking out the wallet we showed him. $43 US dollars and 100 Egyptian pounds.
“No” – he said – “what is this here?” …. Digging into the pockets in the wallet.
“Nothing – room key and credit card” and trust me. He didn’t take Visa.
Disappointment as the realisation dawned on him that we weren’t super shoppers – we were telling him the truth.
“OK” he said “because you are nice people then I will let you have all of this for $43US and 100 Egyptian pounds” …. Like he was losing money on this – I don’t think so.
He ended the transaction with kisses for me on each cheek and – to my husband’s surprise and embarrassment – kisses on each check for him too.
How can you not like these people?