Soon after we docked, an attractive young man neatly dressed in modern American clothing (Tommy Hilfiger shirt and Calvin Klein Jeans) told us he was a student and would be our guide. He had only a slight accent and was easily understood and articulate.
As our bus sped along the Boulevard Houphuet Boigney and the Avenue Mohammed V, one of the oldest streets in the city, he pointed out several of the modern buildings in the business district. I watched as unattended small children, darted in and out of traffic and wondered how these tiny children survive unwatched, alone in a city with traffic like this!
Our bus pulled to a stop and a grinning shop owner enthusiastically greeted us. We were led (more accurately, herded) into a "guest area" where we were seated on benches around a huge pile of Moroccan rugs. Young ladies and gentlemen in traditional costumes passed among the "American guests" serving cups of mint tea. The tea was actually quite nice with a mild minty flavor and very refreshing.
Rugs were then unrolled for us to inspect while the owner extolled the beauty of his rugs and labor-intensive process involved in making them. After about thirty minutes of this, three beautiful women performed a traditional dance and we were dismissed to the shopping area to select our purchases.
As a compulsive shopper, I know hard sell, bait and switch, fast talkers, and believe me, --- they employed them all!! We were literally compelled to buy something before we were allowed to leave the store. As we exited, we were told that the bus would leave in 15 minutes, but we were free to visit other shops in the area--just be back on time! By this time, most of us were so disgusted, we got back on the bus and eagerly waited departure!
Oh well, my shopping adventure became a "misadventure." By the way, I talked to the Activity Director back at the ship and I got my money back. Also, I now have a "tacky, overpriced teapot" that I display in my home as a reminder -- oops; I meant souvenir -- of that trip!
by Barb B
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona
November 13, 2000
From journal Play it again, Sam