I started to think about both currency and Visa today.
I need to change some money. I arrived packing a quantity of US$. They were full dollars too. Years ago I kept in a savings pile at home, all the US$ that were used to pay me by American visitors, rather than change them at the bank. I figured I might get to use them just as they are someday. Meantime they would be savings.
Well, what better time to bring them out than now. Cdn and US currencies had been more or less at par when I saved them. Now, I was spared a steep exchange rate to buy US. Well, in one direction anyway. Now that I’m here exchange counters, banks et al have ways to get around what to them is the profit-making issue. Solution? You make different denominations of currency somehow carry a cost burden that must be separately recovered. Hence, talking $US now, in addition to whatever the over-the-counter rate is, a $20 bill costs ₱50 to change, a $10 bill costs ₱40 and so on. You get the drift. A US dollar currently carries an official exchange rate of ₱47 and change which of course no one but the banks ever get. When I go marching in with my powerful US dollars I’m lucky if we don’t start off talking ₱44 something and go downhill from there. Today US$1.00 = ₱47.7 so we’ll see how that goes.
On the other hand my haircut cost ₱0.35 (US$0.65+/-) so that’s a drop from CDN$20 on Salt Spring. I don’t think my former barber will be migrating here any time soon.
Two things happen on Monday. Daisy and I hail a pedi-cab or jump on a Jeepney at around 7:20am. I will be dropped at the Dumaguete Bureau of Immigration office and Daisy will continue on to the Ceres bus depot where she will catch the 8:45 for Cebu. She has some business to attend to in Cebu later on in the day, will overnight with her family and return to me sometime Tuesday. Daisy is leaving me to fend for myself with not a few misgivings on her part. I will be allowed to maintain ownership of the apartment keys in her absence. My meals will have been prepared and set aside in the freezer or wherever and instructions given as to which is which. Medications and/or creature comforts will have been attended to but I will have to dress/undress myself as appropriate at appointed times. I may not leave the apartment and go exploring.
I have thoughtfully laid in a few beers as this relaxing business is thirsty work.
My relaxation will come however only after sweet talking Immigration and arriving safely home. See, what happened was this. I thought I’d obtain a two month visitors’ visa while still in Canada so that much of two months might pass in Philippines before I need concern myself with a visitors’ visa renewal. Although I completed my form declaring that I intended arriving in Philippines on February 6th (thus requiring my visa to commence as of that date) somehow something got lost in the translation and my visa officially commenced around January 7th or some such. So half its value was gone before I even departed/arrived.
One doesn’t open cans of worms at such times. One just sighs.
These days it is possible to obtain a six month visitor visa (with attendant cost rising exponentially with the number of months of course.) But only if I travel to Cebu or Manila to collect it. Nonetheless I shall try eventually. Once every six months is better than once every two months somehow. My biggest worry is whether or not I’ll make it safely back to the apartment after I’m done at Immigration. It always seems to take Daisy quite a bit of chatter to give pedi-cab driver instructions while talking Bisaya. My attempts to follow her lead, but in English, should prove illuminating. (If you never hear from me again you’ve got a clue where to start looking.) Perhaps I should brush up on my Tagalog?
So goes my Philippines adventure today with currency and visas.