Friday, March 26, 2010

The Negotiation

Please note that the title of this blog is in no way related to the Jersey Shore.

My friends have made a few observations on my walking patterns. Amanda says I walk erratically and that she can never predict when I'm going to suddenly change direction, stop, turn, or weave on the sidewalk. Court remarked that it is incredibly hard to share an umbrella with me for this very reason. Gayle has said that I'm the worst person in the world to try to get somewhere with because I'm always suddenly stopping and looking at something in a shop window, a view, or a sign. All said, I'm not the model of an efficient pedestrian. But until two weekends ago, this erratic way of walking had never really caused me much inconvenience.

Then I went to Morocco. I toured Tetuan and Chefchouen to celebrate my friend Amanda's birthday. When I had pictured Morocco, I thought desert and camels, but instead was surprised by rolling, lush hills and serene blue and white cities perched in the mountains. There was a new color and a new sight at every corner and I was in full wandering-around-with-mouth-agape mode.

The blue walls of Chefchouen's old medina 

But there not paying attention to where you are going carries the risk of running into donkeys, rams or chickens. Stopping to look at something that catches your eye in the window means having to spend five minutes trying to persuade the vendor that you don't want to negotiate a good price, you were only looking! While many of the shop owners were persistent that they had the very best prices in the city, it wasn't until I went to the famous Berber rug cooperative that I met my match.

As I was on a guided group trip, they took us to the co-op and had the members present some of their rugs and explain their process of handmaking the rugs with natural dyes and explaining the different techniques of each of the villages in the cooperative. After the presentation, he said that if anyone was interested in more information about any of the rugs, to just indicate so and he'd have someone come talk to you. "No pressure" was what he assured us. 

Some of the natural dyes being sold in the streets in Chefchouen

Many of the rugs were breathtaking, and one in particular caught my eye. Knowing enough about rugs to know that they weren't exactly in a poor college student's budget, I just wanted a closer look at the rug and to find out a little more about it. Suddenly, one of the Berber men escorted me and the rug into a separate bargaining room and began asking me what I would pay for the rug. None of my friends were allowed into the room with me as "Berber prices secret." Intimidated to say the least, I tried to beg my way out of the situation by saying there was no way I could pay any reasonable price for the rug. The negotiator wasn't having that. After nearly 15 minutes of trying to escape, he finally realized that I was firm on not being able to pay for a full size rug and let me go. I stepped out of the room completely jangled but happy to say that I walked out of there without being convinced to take the rug. That should teach me to window browse in the future! 

PS: Check back soon for some more blog posts! I've had a few in the works and just need to finish them up and get them online :) 

Happy Easter Week: 
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!- 1 Peter 1:3 

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