Saturday, February 21, 2009

Welcome to Alaska

Vendors are aggressive at Egyptian tourist sites. The most aggressive place scarves on your shoulders, hand you trinkets or "gifts", and try anything to engage you in conversation. We sometimes found this tiring, but we did enjoy many of the opening lines we heard. Our favorite, as we stepped off the launch to the Temple of Philae:

Welcome to Alaska. Happy Birthday.

The Alaska line must work well, because we heard it repeated at several other temples. Sadly, no one else wished us a happy birthday.

Other popular opening lines included:

Obama good. Yeah Obama.

Don't I know you?

Come look, my friend, everything free.

And the hardy perennial:

One dollar. One dollar.

Partly for fun and partly from fatigue, several of us tried to deflect the vendors by pretending we didn't speak English. This strategy was a bust, however, because many vendors had opening lines in multiple languages. Thus, a typical exchange might be:

Vendor: My friend, postcards, one dollar.

Donald: No, grazie.

Vendor: Ah, Italiano! (Stream of Italian words, unintelligible to Donald)

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