Given how good natured and magnanamous Gary Goodlander is as a result of his travels in the 3rd world, I was really surprised by the tone and candor of his aricle in CW, and frankly, even more so that CW published it (given the propensity of publishers to be so PC).
If nothing else, Gary's umbrage at the events
illustrate the extent to which westerner's fail to appreciate the extent to which a shadow of Spenser's social darwinism--where exploiting other's weakness and misfortune is an accepted practice--abides as a matter of course in the middle east. Western morality is largely based on the concept
of doing nothing to another one would not have done to one's self. While not perfectly practiced, the ethic predisposes westerners to afford kindness to those suffering misfortune or injury, even their enemys. That is largely not so in the middle east and particularly not when the sufferer is an "outlander" and exploiting his/her misfortune is not likely to result in any future direct retribution. That, of course, does not apply to "invited guests" who are affored all of the privledges/protections of the community/tribe/clan, but uninvited interlopers travel at their own peril and no particular shame accrues to their exploiters (hence legal
"authorities" are commonly little or entirely unmotived to apprehend perpetrators). Westerners commonly find all of the foregoing incomprehensible while there, they find western incomprehension, incomprehensible.
That Mark and Nic, "Fatty" and Caroline, and many others have made the Red Sea/Canal sojoun unmolested is more a case of good fortune--and absence of weakness-than anything else.
Lastly, on the matter of "baksheesh", westerners look upon this as a "bribe". In the middle east the ability to recieve baksheesh--or pishkesh in the case of potential long-term dealings--is considered a part of the consideration one receives for holding an office (hence the practice of paying for an appointment to a potentially lucrative office). While there may be a "salary" or wages for holding a position, if any at all, these are commonly nominal. One is expeced to obtain one's compensation from those that recieve the services of one's office and the more dear the service--e.g. pilotage through the Canal--the more the compensation expected. To some extent the same is praticed in the West, particularly in restaurants where, if one wants good service
or assurance of a table, one needs to be willing to afford a waiter or headwaiter a good "tip".
While vexing, Gary's experience was simply a matter of course in the locale.
The foregoing are offered merely as observations and not as an indictment nor invocation of discord. In the course of travel, one's expectations need be tailored to the exigencies of ones venue, or one shall always be disappointed, no?