tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Camels jockey for position to annoy tourists in Egypt

There's something spectacularly amusing about spending a cold Friday afternoon in Toronto reading the user-generated reviews of the Great Pyramids of Giza on the popular travel website TripAdvisor.com.

Chortling over these reviews, it seems to this blogger that everyone loves Egypt and loathes Egyptians; travellers seem especially annoyed with the timeless art of haggling for camel rides.

"The camel drivers and hawkers are annoying, but just tell then you are albanian and they leave you alone."

"They use intimidation and threats to extort money out of you."

"...they tried to get us for about $50 each."

Ah, the travellers travelled to meet the untravelled in well-travelled lands, but the untravelled weren't what the travellers had travelled so far to see.

Rhetoric, please: What is a great pyramid without a camel haggler?

Feeling Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, it seems that when the traveller preconceives an egoistical experience of travelling that is equidistant from pure fantasy and reality, he is the blindest of all humans, for he neither imagines nor sees his travelled place for what it really is.

With the stout capabilities of my imagination I could visit the pyramids in my mind's eye as I sit next to a snow-covered window. Or with the blessings of our era I could hop on a plane to Egypt and visit the pyramids with my own true senses. But I wouldn't expect them to be the same trip.

Besides, why travel halfway around the world to let yourself be annoyed by the same species that lives on your street?

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