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Corruption or ‘Grease’

Pamela Bendall of the Port Hardy, B.C.-based Kristen 46 Precious Metal had a fabulous cruise to Peru, followed by lots of wonderful inland travel and the making of many great friends. We hope to have more on that in a future Latitude.

Pamela had a great trip to the Galapagos and Peru, during which time she and her crew landed a good fish almost every day.

Precious Metal
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But almost immediately after leaving Peru for what was to be stops at the Galapagos (again), Costa Rica and Mexico before heading off to the South Pacific, there was a problem with the alternator. She and her crewed tried turning most of the systems down or off, including the running lights at times, but eventually they decided had no choice but to put in to land.

After burning up a lot of minutes on the satphone, Pamela received permission for an emergency entry to Puerto Lucia, Ecuador. Once Precious Metal was tied to the dock, the situation rapidly improved. The shorepower brought the systems back online, and a mechanic got to work on the problem, which was broken alternator mounts.

But then came Pamela’s meeting with four government officials and her ship’s agent. Three of the officials and the ship’s agent drank all her Coke. That was a minor annoyance. What she really didn’t care for was the Immigration officer, who asked for scotch while conducting official business. Not needing any problems, she gave it to him. But she was convinced that he was looking for a bribe. Things went along fine until Mr. Immigration discovered that the folks in the Galapagos hadn’t put a departure stamp in her passport when she left seven months before. Pamela didn’t see how it was a big deal, as she’d subsequently checked in and out of Peru.

Mr. Immigration begged to differ, which is what started a "ridiculous" two-hour discussion. At one point, Mr. Immigration threatened to make Pamela’s life miserable by making her go to Guayquil to check in. But the officials relented, sort of, when she threatened to immediately leave the country. They said she couldn’t be on the official crew list — what? — and that Precious Metal couldn’t leave the marina. As she needed food, they said she’d be able to take a taxi to the store, but not walk.

As the officials were about to depart, they asked for a bottle of scotch. Not very happy with the request, Pamela gave them a bottle of pisco from Peru. She noted that they opened the bottle as soon as they got to their car, and began drinking the stuff. She hoped it would leave them with a nasty hangover the next day.

In the wide, wide world of corruption, a bottle of scotch isn’t the worst request. But it raises the question of what’s the difference between ‘grease’ and corruption? And what’s the most you’ve had to pay to get something that you should have gotten without a hassle or at no charge? We’d love to hear your responses.

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