Ok, get your maps out boys and girls because we are about to have a geography lesson. Before this cruising life, we hadn’t even heard of many of the places we have visited and now we feel like we could at least win the $300 question in the “Where In the World?” category on Jeopardy Latin America.
Our latest stop was the Colombian island of Providencia. Near Colombia? Oh no, my friend it is 380 nautical miles west of Colombia in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. It is actually closer to Nicaragua (140 nm off that barren coast) and a world away from the all-inclusive tropical resorts found throughout the Caribbean.
Tourism is very low-key here and the island is pleasantly geared toward merely sustaining the slow-paced lives of the locals. This we’ve discovered is the common theme to our favorite stops.
With a population of just over 5,000 it is small enough where everyone seems to know each other and accordingly there is little crime. Think of it, if everyone is going to know you did it and you live on an island hundreds of miles from any escape route, what kind of life of crime can you really lead?
The locals speak Spanish but they seem more akin to Jamaicans than Colombians. Their preferred mode of communication is a rhythmic patois with more English than Spanish but with words truncated making it very difficult for outsiders to comprehend. In fact, one of the Mr. Bushes on the island (anonymity protected as certain names dominate on the island – there are more Bushes or Hawkinses than you can count) told us that its purpose was so pure Spanish or English speakers could not understand it. But its rhythm makes it a delight to hear. (double click photos to see full size)
There are only a handful of cars and trucks on the island and everyone seems to get around on a scooter, small motor bike or mule (sort of like a 4-wheel ATV). They are world champions in carrying people and items on bikes – we never saw 5 to a bike, but 4 persons on one scooter is routine.
We arrived a week before Christmas planning to ring in the new year and be on our way, but Mother Nature is a tough travel agent and had a different schedule in mind.
Winds were blowing a steady 25-30 knots and seas outside were 10′-15′ so we hunkered down with fellow buddy boaters Pegasus, R&R Kedger, Second Wind and new pals Aphrodite and took to exploring Providencia from its high peeks to below its seas.
Since the island is surrounded by the 3rd largest reef in the world and we had the time, Peter and I took diving lessons and were able to get our open water PADI certificate. I didn’t think I’d ever do this, but never say never and there I was down 60 feet with the rays, sharks and coral breathing air from a tank.
So after a fabulous month in Providencia, Mother Nature was satisfied we’d properly experienced the island and she calmed the winds and seas down just enough for us to head to the next esoteric locale “we’ll take Guanaja, Honduras for $500, Alex”.