Saturday, January 28, 2012

Captain's Blog 1/28/12

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. More tomorrow...

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