Last night the navigational map showed that we were passing the country of Panama. We are not stopping there on this trip. We did visit Panama four years ago. We entered the locks from the Atlantic Ocean side. Once we past the locks of the canal we took a land tour excursion to the Panama City which is on the Pacific side.
The Panama Canal will soon be a major world news report. It will be big deal when the new canal is opened next year. We saw the construction work of it back then and the work was extensive. The super size ships will finally be able to enter and cross. The day it opens the world trade markets will drastically change. Markets and ports will quickly open and expand since products will be moved faster and reduce transportation costs. The tourism markets will also open up since that industry is building mega size ships.
As we sail southward the outside temperatures on the ship is raising and it's the humidity that is most easily felt. Ships are air conditioned but you can feel the increased warm dampness outside.
Tonight we cross the equator and we will be transferred from "polywags to hardshells". Hardshells is the term used for persons that have crossed the equator. There will be a party on the ship and as tradition has it King Neptune and Davy Jones makes an appearance and baptized the new hardshells. It is a life experience to visit a other Hemisphere and we are looking forward to the ceremony.
Tomorrow is officially summer and we will immediately have 18 additional minutes of daylight. As we proceed to sail southward our sunlight minutes continuously increases.
We land and visit only the port town of Manta in Ecuador. It's a city with a population of 200,000. One of the important topics regarding Ecuador is that they own the famous islands of The Galapagos. The islands are 600 miles from here and are famous for its unique marine and land animals. The lesser known item regarding these volcanic islands is that they are situated in a strategic area where the ocean currents of both hemispheres overlap and blend around the islands. The Northern hemisphere Pacific ocean current is going clockwise and the Southern one is moving counterclockwise.
So the Galapagos currents receives nutrients from both current directions. This area is known and greatly benefits its tuna fishing industry. Tuna in this area can each weigh hundreds of pounds and the blue fin tuna, in particular, can be worth its weight in gold in the Asian markets. It's little wonder that tuna herds are tracked by special planes and helicopters and harvested by large ships. There are approximately 100 fishing ships here in port. How many are currently out at sea? Each can lay out fishing nets that are miles in length. Normally only the very small tuna is brought to port for local consumption. Overfishing the oceans worldwide is a major global concern.
To the east of Ecuador is the Brazilian jungle. We visited the Central Bank Archeological Museum here in Manta and they highlighted a few regional archeological findings dating to 4,200 BC. The indigenous considered gold as a symbol for the sun. The Spaniards valued gold for its power to increase its military and thus ability to dominate over others.
We are not visiting the Galapagos on this trip but we will sometime soon.
One major item that we were surprised to discover is that the entire economy of Ecuador is now based on the US dollar. Apparently they recently experiences hyperinflation and thus gave up their Sucre monetary system altogether. Prices are in dollars and the sales tax is 15%.
What a fabulous educational opportunity Ecuador offers Spanish speaking US college students! They should approach the World Bank and arrange to come here and study how a national economy base came to implode and disintegrate. An economic study of this kind would place the student, after graduation, on a fantastic professional career path analyzing other national economies around the world and prevent this from happening elsewhere.
Well Trini and I are now off to the Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras celebration on ship. Our dinner table guests of four couples celebrated the birthday of Linda. She is a retired nurse. Four bottles of champagne and our dinner table group got a bit louder. Persons around us now want to join our table. Too much fun.
Now we begin two days at sea and our next port of call will be Lima, Peru.