Day one in Guayaquil was uneventful- we sent about 450 cadets ashore for liberty, and 449 were back aboard by 0200. The one person missing was an employee that often grabs a hotel ashore one or two times a cruise, so we don't worry too much about him. One of a few problems we have encountered is currency.
The Ecuadorian economy
runs on the US dollars- literally. (Funny anecdote, Captain Rozak had just
explained to the cadets in the pre-port brief that the use of the US dollar was
prevalent, when not two minutes later a cadet asks 'What's the exchange rate?'
I think Captain Rozak's cute response was drowned out by cadet laughter.)
Anyway, there is a counterfeiting problem here too- so restaurants and taxi
are very reluctant to take anything over a 20 dollar bill. I don't carry enough
20's to help that cause, as matter of fact, I cause the problem for some
because when they get money 'wired' to them aboard, I tend to give only $100
worth of 20s to each payment- even if it is $1,000.
So, I awaken at 0300 this
morning and say 'hey, you've got all the money from the pre-paid email cards'.
So I get up and count out over $6K in twenties- and the ship's clerk is down
in ship's office right now breaking large bills on a first come, first served
basis. I hope that alleviates the problem for some.
Another problem is the distance from the dock to the down town center-
although it measures about 5 kilometres on the map, but it takes about 40
minutes by bus, and maybe 35 in a taxi. But this problem persists in many ports
we go to- it's all part of the seagoing experience I suppose.