Monday, January 14, 2008

Touts and Tourists

Well Shean, I hate to say it but I have no Arabic language to speak of. I probably should've learned quite a bit by now but well, for one thing the classical Arabic is very different from that spoken on the street in each country and for another, I just didn't find the language appeal to me. Something about not having all the vowels written in it. I know that doesn't have much to do with speaking a language but I am a visual learner and need to see things written down. The reading turned me off the whole thing. French, well, it's easier to understand these people than the French themselves but I am not trying to get more than a basic level at this point. Learning by accident or necessity only at this point.
Touts were still the worst (ie. most numerous and persistent) in India. It definitely deserves its reputation. The touts (and the people in general) are more relaxed here and when you can actually talk to them they are usually willing to chat and not worry too much about selling you their stuff. The biggest annoyance here in The Gambia has been the odd drunk that has come up and started harassing us. They have said some rather rude and anti-tourist kind of things. I wonder if more aren't thinking the same and it wouldn't really surprise me. We haven't been down to the beach and clubs area where the majority are tourists are but then it is still easy to tell that this is primarily a short-term package tourist country. You can just feel it in the atmosphere. I've been doing this long enough to tell. I'm totally of the mind now that tourism and travel are a good thing when people go with an open mind and respect and a little bit of previous knowledge of where they are visiting, but that mass tourism is horrible for a country, benefiting only a few and actually exacerbating the racism issue and misunderstandings. Egypt was a perfect example. Gambia is a good one too. This country is 95% Muslim (of one form or another) and yet the package tourism down at the beach spills over into the streets and we see tourists driving around in bikini tops or with no shirts on in town. It's just blatant disrespect and pisses off the locals whether they say anything or not. Their better off at home or in Spain or some other European country where it's not offensive. They aren't seeing anything of these countries so why bother? Does more harm than good.
When I can speak English to the people up front and I don't have my bag on or my pockets full of valuables, I don't mind fighting my way through the crowd. I have the bony elbows and hips and smell just as bad as the rest. I wish I had a little more weight to throw around though one could also argue that, being thin, I can slip through the cracks better. The real problem is that it is always a push and shove crowd and it is an impossible nightmare to try and get all of us on a bus or something with all our gear under these rules. Horrible.


At 10:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon,
Thanks for the clarification, I kinda thought that India had been the worst for harrasment, I remember you were frustrated and getting beligerent about the whole thing. I thought maybe Egypt with the touts and girls getting harrased might have ranked next.
I totaly agree about the beach tourist crowd and with the impact being at best a pyramid scheme with small trickle down effects. But I think it ruins the local economy and gernerates an inflationary imbalance in the economy and also that makes it harder for the have nots, but that is my take on it. Of course I view it from an Mexico/South America view.
As to size, just remember GRetsky played longer than Lemieux because he was skinny and could slip the checks, and in crowds it is the same. I am always getting banged into, I after a bit get right grumpy about it. Tish usually drags me out once I begin to growl....
Interesting about the laid back part, but I keep thinking it may be a culteral thing rather than a state of ming/being. As you experienced, is there a simmering resentment underneath it all.

How is your dad's arm/neck?

Anyways, take care,
Love and Bear Hugs to All
The Bear


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