The following is an e-mail from a friend. Small world story.
I read with a bit of deja vu your account of your trip to Al-Ghouri, named after the mosque there. Marsha and I went there for the Dervish show, which we did see, but arrived very early. There we met Ahmed who took us to the “pizza” place. I too thought it was too much. We heard the same stories you did and then he took us down some really frightful alleys looking for locally made “stuff”. We did buy 6 boxes inlayed with tiny shells from a shop featuring a dirt floor and child labor. We also went to a Nigerian papyrus artist, but bought nothing. Before entering the performance Ahmed said he was in the band and departed, but not before I tipped him generously for his “help”. Half way though the show I asked Marsha if she sees Ahmed and the answer was no. I believe Ahmed is making a very good living from tourist and kickbacks from the “pizza” place and the popular artists’ shops, considering that the average income for 40% of the Egyptian population is $2/day. I believe this scam-the-Westerners mentality is all up and down Egyptian society. But in all fairness we did obtain some good directions in place and the person did not ask and refused baksheesh.
Best Regards, Art and Marsha