Travel Weekly's Michelle Baran is aboard Uniworld's River Tosca for its maiden Nile River cruise. Her second dispatch follows.
As Uniworld’s River Tosca slowed into a lock along the Nile, an army of small river boats charged the ship.
One after the other they started mooring alongside the ship until there were at least a dozen boats dragging along in the Tosca's wake.
Some passengers were frightened. They thought it might be an attack.
And then a familiar cry came from the river below. "Hey laaaady! Five dollars! How much you pay? Look, only five dollars."
There was a big, collective sigh of relief and smiles. The men in boats were hocking their wares.
They started tossing balled-up scarves and galabeyas (traditional Arab garments worn by men and women) on the sun deck, four decks above the river.
Believe it or not, their guerilla sales tactic worked. After the first couple of thuds, passengers started opening the bundles.
Then the haggling began. Packages containing money and unpurchased wares were thrown down to the men.
Watching the merchants race against time as the Tosca approached the lock was quite a scene to behold.
One of the guides laughed as passengers ran to the two sides of the sun deck to see what the commotion was about.
"This is part of the experience!" he chuckled, as we enjoyed the display of Egyptian determination.
Cruising down the Nile is a journey of juxtapositions. One minute we were relaxing on the sun deck of this new, luxury ship, sunning and sipping cocktails with views of the Nile’s fertile banks to a desert backdrop.
The next we were negotiating with merchants willing to risk their safety for a few dollars.