Jordan 2008!

After Jordan 2006, and Yemen 2007 comes the much anticipated return to Jordan 2008!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


It has been a few weeks since the last post, but not without reason! For the first time we have left our Jordanian home to walk in the lands of the pharaohs, Egypt! Egypt is a fascinating place; without the Nile, Egypt would be little more than a desert wasteland. It's almost surreal how the desert instantly turns into a tropical rainforest as you get into the area within the rivers affected range. I'd imagine that the fertility of the Nile alone could probably support 30 million people... the problem is that Egypt has 75 million.

This place is FULL of people. In any given street in Cairo you probably have a million people in your view, and approximately 750,000 of them are trying to sell you something. They sell everything from informative books about Egypt to alabaster figures with freakishly large penises. (Don’t ask). These salesmen are so aggressive, though, that it can really ruin a visit to Egypt if you don’t know how to handle them. The problem stems from the fact that they don’t understand the basic economic concept of supply and demand. The supply of Egyptian crap in Egypt: Endless. My demand for alabaster penises: Zero. Still, these overly assertive salesmen figure that if they just name the right price, you will buy. This doesn’t mean that they try to hit the right price on the first try, however. No, no, they will hit the entire spectrum of prices imaginable. They always start out by saying how special you are and how much they love you and want to give you the best price of the day: 800 Egyptian pounds. Then as you walk away, the price will drop with every step you take until you are being offered a handful of trinkets for one Egyptian pound. So how do you deal with such an annoyance? I’m glad you asked! There are a variety of ways:

1. Pretend you’re an ancient Egyptian trader, and offer to pay them in gold, silver, or slaves.

2. Do the opposite of them, namely: start off the bidding by demanding that the only fair price would be for them to offer all of their goods to you for 1 pound.

And my personal favorite:
3. Make up some false nationality and speak gibberish to everyone who approaches you. This works best with partners.

My roommates and I invented a country and language called “shviedergugen.” It sounds like some kind of Scandinavian/Germanic language and we even invented a history for our country. We tried our best to ensure we threw in the Swedish inflection as well. People would try to sell us things and we would just say things like, “shmorgen floger nargen giffer!” and eventually they would give up, and we would have a good laugh. You may think this is cruel or immature, but we’ll see how YOU react when faced with being harassed to purchase very anatomically INcorrect statuettes.

In addition to the salesmen, something MUST be said here about Egyptian security. There is none. Every hotel has a metal detector and 3 guards who don’t give a crap if you have metal. It’s hilarious. I think the crowning moment was when our colleague, Wade, walked through the metal detector on the way onto an airplane, and it beeped. The Guard took his little wand and waved it up and down Wades body to discover that whatever it was, it was in his pocket, and then proceeded to wave him on, as if to say, “Oh! It was in your POCKET! That’s a relief.” I actually made a video of the absurdity of Egyptian security, and if I figure out how to post it, I may put it on, but until then, just enjoy the sights of Egypt.