what does santiago do while he is there? Why is Tangiers important?
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The first day Santiago is in Tangiers, he is robbed and left completely alone, unable to speak a single word of Arabic. At first Santiago contemplates giving up and turning around. He remembers the words of the wise man, though, and decides to carry on–getting a job at a local crystal shop. After working at the crystal shop for a year, learning much about life and about his Personal Legend, Santiago earns enough money to buy a new flock of sheep and return home. At the last minute, though, Santiago decides to risk it all and join a caravan to Egypt.
You also have to remember that when Santiago decides to leave Tangier, he plans to go home and buy more sheep with his riches. He doesn't decide to make his way to Egypt until the very last minute, partly because he realizes by going home he'll never learn anything new, that he'd simply become complacent like the crystal shop owner. The realization that he must continue to pursue his Personal Legend is a last minute ideal.