Ships Ahoy, But Not The Beer


This blog entry about the events of Friday, November 21, 2003 was originally posted on November 29, 2003.

DAY 34: To kill time before my 8:00 pm boat tour departure, I went back to Turtle Bay to chill out and read.  On my way down the winding path, I ran into Chris who was on his way back to town.  I chatted with the 63-year-old South African from Toronto until that uncomfortable silent lull you inevitably get when you bump into an acquaintance on the street and there is no good gossip to talk about.  Your options usually are to A) Talk about the nice or shitty weather; B) Scratch your ass; C) A followed by B; or what I did, D) Say, “Well, I’ll be seeing you.” 

He left for his flight back to the mainland later that day and I never saw him again.

NAVID, FRESH OFF THE BOAT from his little excursion to the big island of Isabela, checked into my Los Amigos hostel to sleep in all day.  He let me keep my bags there while I ran errands in town all day.

In the evening, on our way out of the hostel, we ran into the Scots and Scandinavians, who were cutting up onions and making a marinade for another barbecue of the day’s catch.

“Have a good tour then,” Steve the Scotsman said.  “Make sure you bring your own drinks though; the beer is quite expensive.”

Hearing this, Navid and I went down to the supermarket by the harbor to stock up on supplies.  I got a bottle of sugar cane rum, bottles of Coke and boxes of juice.  Navid was trying to get some cold beers, but they were all sold out.  The woman there directed us to another place down the street.

We left our bags with two of our soon-to-be-shipmates, a German couple near the travel agency, and went looking for a beer store.  Time was running out and we couldn’t find a place and before we knew it the group was ready to board the ship.  We had no choice but to do what many college students would think is inconceivable — go an entire six days without cheap beer. 

AT THE DOCK, we noticed a fellow tourist who was more prepared than we were; he had with him a whole case of twelve big bottles of beer, all neatly packed in a sturdy plastic milk crate.  His beer supply outweighed his luggage.

“Thought I’d come prepared.  I heard the beers are three dollars on the ship,” he said.  In Ecuador, where dollar values are about 1/5 of what things are in the U.S.A., this translated to about $15/beer, and the small size too — which is yet another inconceivable thing for the college student.

The smart beer guy’s name was James, a New Zealander who had lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, just about a mile away from my old neighborhood in Metro New York City.  He had quit his corporate job in Morristown, New Jersey of two years to travel Easy Rider-style.  With his Japanese motorcycle, he had been on the road for fifteen months thus far, starting from his former residence in Hoboken to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern most city in the world at the very tip of South America.  He had spent his first six months or so going south, and the rest heading back up north.  He left his bike at a mechanic in Quito for a couple of weeks and decided to kill time with a little Galapagos excursion before riding again for another year or two. 

THE WATER TAXI picked us up to take us to our ship, but some woman who I think was the harbormaster told James that he wasn’t allowed to bring the beers like that and took it away from him.  Navid justifiably called her the “Nazi Woman.”

“I knew I should have hidden it in a bag,” James said.

We rode away under the night sky and the crate of beer got smaller and smaller.  James had a look on his face like, well, like a guy who had just had lots of beer confiscated from him.  (This is a similar look one gives when one hears that he or she must undergo root canal surgery.)

“Now I’m glad we couldn’t find beers,” Navid told me.

THE Y/V FREE ENTERPRISE WAS ANCHORED not too far from the main dock.  It was a good sized ship, a former sailing schooner that had traded its sails for a big motor to tour around twenty tourists and a small crew.  We boarded the ship in time for a briefing by our tour leader Mauricio.  Navid and I were reunited with Andre, who had done the first half of the trip already. 

We also met our new shipmates including Sonya, an artist/waitress/bartender from Massachusetts and her South African chef boyfriend Sean.  I made friends with Manuel, the sole bartender/waiter on the ship, who was dressed up in a bow tie like Isaac from The Love Boat.  He wasn’t sure if I spoke Spanish or if I was Cambodian.  He was happy when I busted out some Spanish words, and used Spanish and body language to point out Birgit, the attractive Danish blonde that he had his eye on.

Next entry: See Crabs and Sea Lions

Previous entry: Idiot on Wheels

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Comments for “Ships Ahoy, But Not The Beer”

  • Yay, he’s back from the NIZ.

    Missed your blog this week Erik.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  06:03 AM

  • Ooh, I feel so special, my name is displayed on your first picture haha. Glad to have your blog back wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  05:14 PM

  • Toronto shout out #2! 

    (yes, I will be keeping track of Torontonians for the remainder of the RTW)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  08:10 PM

  • HIP HOP HORRAY! you’re back on the blog!!

    what a small world… funny that james lived in hoboken and worked in mo-town!! has he seen ffg? hahah:) i’m sure you guys had some good jersey conversations. those could last hours. ..  too bad the 60-something south african wasn’t from nj too. ha:)

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  08:38 PM

  • nice framing on that pic….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  02:06 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
See Crabs and Sea Lions

Previous entry:
Idiot on Wheels


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