Arba Minch – Protecting Our Rights As Tourists

“Yes, I’m rich! And I don’t mind paying more at a restaurant than everyone else here. Please bill me as much as you want!”

No, I didn’t say that. And I never will.

At Soma, a fancy seafood restaurant in Arba Minch, Southern Ethiopia, they think that foreigners don’t mind being overcharged. In fact, they have posted their two menus side by side. One in English – for tourists – with higher prices, and one in Armaric writing – for locals – with lower prices. As though all foreigners would happily pay up to 50 percent more than the people at the next table.

Would an Ethiopian be treated the same way in New York? Never.

Eduardo and I decided to make a scandal and teach them a lesson.

“Sir, can we have the check, please? But with these prices,” we pointed to the menu in Armaric.

The waiter, dumbfounded, tried to understand. He pointed at the menu in English. Surely we would like to pay the higher prices, not the lower ones

“No, we want to pay these prices,” Eduardo repeated.

The waiter shook his head and disappeared into the kitchen. 5 minutes went by. Then 10 minutes. 20 minutes. Nothing.

“Sir, we are still waiting for the check. But with these prices.” Eduardo called out, as the waiter tried to sneak by us to serve other, less argumentative clients.

A local man at the next table got involved, spoke to the waiter, then explained to us:
“You have to pay the tourist prices.”

“But why? It’s wrong! Why do we have to pay more than you?”

Eduardo explained: “If you came to my country, would you like to pay higher prices than everyone else in a restaurant just because you’re a tourist?”

The coin dropped, and the local man started arguing our cause. But as he was celebrating his daughter’s graduation, we thanked him and told him he didn’t have to get involved in our case.

When the waiter finally gave us the check, only verbally, it was based on the tourist menu. 108 Birr.

So, we decided to write our own check, using the prices on the local menu. We left the 78 Birr on the table (no tip) – and walked away, looking over our shoulders to make sure no angry mob was following us.

The $2 we saved is not a lot of money, but it’s the principle of the matter that counts. Why should tourists always get overcharged?

Refuse to be overcharged!!!

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