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INTERVAL WORLD Fall 2013 IntervalWorld.com
Aziz’s magic box caught my eye.
The cedar-
scented treasure with a secret compartment is a fixture in
souks
(marketplaces) throughout Morocco. I asked Aziz for the cost. “Do
you want the bargaining price?” he queried. “Yes,” I said. When he
gave me a number, I gasped and put the box back. “What did you
expect?” he smiled. “You asked for the bargaining price.”
And thus the game began: I showed him pictures of my kids to
soften him up. He hinted that Mick Jagger had shopped there. I
feigned disinterest. He offered me a seat and a glass of mint tea. I
headed for the door. He implored me not to be hard-hearted. I asked
him if he would throw in the kind of poppy-based lip rouge that Mick
supposedly bought. We eventually settled on a price that made us
both smile, and in a Moroccan gesture of goodwill, we shook hands.
Throughout much of the world — Asia, Africa, the Middle East,
Latin America, and in parts of Europe — day-to-day street com-
merce is conducted in this manner. But for the uninitiated, bargaining
can be unnerving, often stirring feelings of guilt (“But it’s so cheap
already.”) or inadequacy (“I can’t do conversion math that fast.”).
Fact is, the art of haggling is straightforward, easy, and fun.
The bonus, beyond better prices for your purchases, is an authen-
tic, personal interaction with local customs and people. So with a
few useful tools, you can embrace the opportunity to participate in
an age-old tradition that ultimately may be a travel experience more
valuable than the purchases you make.
Gary Yeowell/Getty Images; Joyce Copeland; Betsy Sheldon
BY BETSY SHELDON
SHOPPING
Ready to Deal
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