Another Saturday, Another Horse Race

Saturday afternoon means horse racing on the beach, here in Providencia, and since we’ve been here long enough to qualify as locals, a plan was hatched to attend. With carnival still in full swing, Scott and I decided to arrive at Southwest Bay via dingy, instead of making our way there by road. We spread word of our plan around the anchorage, and ended up with a flotilla of six dinghies rounding the corner to Southwest Bay.

When we arrived, the others hauled their dinghies far up onto the beach, out of the way of the racing horses. Sitting in the shade, the inflatables quickly became loungers for the throngs of locals who came to spend the afternoon. By the end of the day, our friends had to shoo both children and adults away to return their boats to the water.

We are unable to get off the bow of the Aluminum Princess, so she was anchored out and we waded to shore, trying hard not to twist an ankle on the large rocks along the way. Much to Scott’s dismay, she attracted the attention of the local children, and he spent the afternoon fending them off of her, until finally re-anchoring in another spot.

We were treated to not one, but two races this week, as there was a crew shooting footage for a movie of some sort. This time, I realized that standing in the water provided a safe, up close location for photos of the horses as they came by.

This week, the thoroughbred ran two races against two different horses. He lost the second race (I think because he was stinking hot during the second one!) to a surprisingly young jockey.

Carnival brought a larger crowd and multiple towers of speakers putting out music at full volume. The people watching was entertaining, and we spent the day watching the races, eating some yummy seafood and enjoying time with our anchorage neighbors,  including Lee and Rachel….from Baltimore!

Here are some more photos of another Saturday at the races.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”


A Guy’s Hike To The Peak

At 1,200 feet, The Peak is the highest point on Providencia. It is part of a regional public park, that covers 24 acres, and is owned by the Colombian government. Six large streams and bodies of water start at the peak, and these bodies of water and ravines make up the central watershed source for the island.  The park was established to protect this watershed and to preserve and recover the island’s dry forest.

So, 1,200 feet is not a casual hike. I’ve been dealing with some problems in my left knee lately; add in heat, humidity, incline and rocks, and I chose to sit this one out. Luckily, Kevin was up for the challenge, and he an Scott set out to conquer the peak.

It is easy and affordable to hire a guide to take you up to the top. They provide transportation to and from the peak, and provide information local plants, trees and wildlife along the way. However, Kevin and Scott felt no need for a guide, choosing instead to go it alone.

This meant getting there three wide on the back of a local’s motorcycle. Since Kevin was the “lucky” one in the middle, Scott started with sore leg muscles, from holding them in the air on the back of the bike (keeping them off of the ground, and away from the exhaust pipe) for the 15 minute ride to the start of the hike.

The path was clearly marked, and the guys trotted along at a good pace.

By the middle of the hike, things became more challenging, as the incline and presence of rocks increased (rocks, another reason I’m glad I skipped it); it was definitely a cardio workout at this point.

They reached the top in a little under two hours, covering 3-4 miles. Having started later in the morning, the guided tours had already come and gone. The guys had the top of the peak all to themselves while they ate lunch, had a break and enjoyed the views.

Nourished and rested, Scott and Kevin made their way back down the trail to the bottom.

Now for the real challenge….getting a ride back to the dock in town. The guys finished at about 1:30, smack in the middle of siesta time. Everything on Providencia shuts down from 1-3pm, for siesta, something that still slips our minds regularly.

After waiting in vain for a bus, and beginning to make the walk back, the guys managed to flag down a van willing to give them a ride. As they drove along, it became clear that the van was not going toward town, but to Southwest Bay instead (the big horse race was taking place today, with an official cash prize). When this was finally made clear, through a challenging Spanish/English conversation, Scott and Kevin jumped out of the van and continued walking.

Eventually, they were able to flag a man down who agreed to give Scott a ride to town on his bike; his friend would come along behind with Kevin. Along the way, Scott’s driver stopped to argue with a woman about money. After 15 minutes she finally gave in and handed it over, and they continued on. When Scott arrived at the dock, there was no sign of Kevin. He turned to see Kevin already in his dinghy. He’d not gotten a ride on a bike, but instead had hitched a free ride with one of the local police.

On Kevin’s ride to town, the police radio was abuzz with news that someone had been injured at the race. It seems a man had leaned too far out into the path of the oncoming horses, and had broken his leg.

During all of the radio frenzy, Kevin asked the policeman if he needed to go and respond. The officer replied no, with a shrug. We later learned the ferry that runs to San Andres was delayed in leaving, so that the man could be transported to a hospital.

Scott hobbled back onto Sea Life, after his brisk ascent and descent of the peak, and round trip “leg lifts” on a motorcycle. All in all, an eventful guy’s day. Here are a few more photos of the guy’s hike, and views from the peak.

Don’t forget that you can go the Where Are We Now page, and follow the link to our Delorme satellite tracker. It shows the paths for our walk up to Morgan’s Head, Pablo Escoabar’s house, our buggy rides around the island and the guy’s hike up to the peak.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Growing Roots In Providencia

We’d hoped to be on our way to Bocas del Toro, in Panama, by now. However, as usual, the weather had different plans for us, which was insanely frustrating. The latest window was slim, so Scott let me make the decision whether to stay or go.

Good news, the winds were supposed to die off briefly on Tuesday, before picking back up again on Wednesday. Bad news, this wouldn’t give the seas nearly enough time to lay down. Since I wasn’t up for traveling in 6-7 foot swells, with possible breaking waves on top, I chose to pass.

Good news, it turned out to be the right decision, as the winds never died. We heard from boats arriving in the harbor that they’d had a miserable go. Bad news, our next window wouldn’t be for at least another week. As I said, it was becoming insanely frustrating, even Howard was contemplating jumping ship.

Good news, we were on island for Carnival time! We’d never been to a proper carnival celebration (the parade in Isla Mujeres was disappointing), and planned to go to town one night for the festivities.  Bad news, people that travel to attend Carnival on Providencia aren’t the best lot, and it was a zoo in town, so it seemed safer to stay on the boat, especially at night.

Good news, lots of reggae music was being played from the town dock. Bad news, as you might imagine, it was at a ridiculous volume, and went on until after 3 am. This made sleep challenging, even with my ear plugs in.

Good news, many new boats arrived in a flotilla. They are Colombians, all flying large country flags, as well as smaller ones, making the anchorage bustling and colorful.

Bad news, boats in the flotilla weren’t the greatest at anchoring, and many boats drug anchor, resulting in at least one collision. Two boats that were rafted together (on the left) drifted into a third boat (on the right). Those onboard the two rafted boats were oblivious to what was going on, until after impact.

As they broke free, the two boats snagged the third’s anchor line, and almost drifted back to collide again.

It was a stressful go for those of us who’d been safely anchored here for weeks.  We held our breath, and prepared to fend off anyone coming our way. Luckily, by dusk, everyone seemed to be set, and all held through the night.

We’re here for at least another week. Good news, it’s beautiful here, and there are things that we enjoy seeing and doing. Bad news, most of them are out of walking distance. With local transportation being iffy at best, we’re stuck with paying to rent a buggy, which adds up.

Good news, the snorkeling is great, and there are many places to explore for fishing. Bad news, with stronger winds, visibility for snorkeling isn’t the greatest, and it’s too much of a hard time on the windward side of the island for fishing.

Good news, liquor here is cheap! A bottle of Smirnoff vodka is $8.00 in the grocery stores. Bad news, people here for carnival  are buying up the stock.

Good news, we’re not on a set schedule per say. Bad news, our insurance wants us farther south by July 1st, for coverage against any named storm damage. Yeah, yeah, hurricanes don’t come this far south….I give you Hurricane Sandy, that hit New York at the end of October….never say never.

The forecast is riddled with tropical lows these days. They don’t directly affect us, as a hurricane or tropical storm, but instead make the winds difficult to travel in. And, the chance of squalls gets greater this time of year, so Scott wants to get farther south sooner than later.

Good news, we’d hoped to travel to San Andres from here, another Colombian island 10-12 hours south, and after that, the Albuquerque Cays, where Scott planned on some fishing and snorkeling. Bad news, with all the weather delays, we may be doing a three to four day run straight to Bocas del Toro…bummer. You know how I love a multi-day passage!

It seems that we’re growing roots here in Providencia…we may have to pay taxes! Here are some random photos from the past few days.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”



Cows….Reggae…And A Horse Race!

After striking out on seeing the horse race, and having dinner at one of the few restaurants here on the island, we decided to try again. This time we rented a buggy overnight, giving us transportation back from dinner (no late-night, crazy, three-person motorcycle ride) and a ride to the race the next  day. We would be a threesome this time around. Unfortunately, Marina had to fly back to Houston and see a specialist for some vision problems, so Kevin would be joining us solo.

We rented a two-person buggy, to save a few dollars. Based on the bench size of our previous one, we felt there would be plenty of room for three, and no need for a back seat. The buggy truly was a two-person, and it made for a snug ride. Scott drove this time, and I kept trying to reign him in on the curves and turns, for fear that Kevin would fly out of the buggy!

We made our way to Caribbean Place Donde Martin for dinner. This time, we’d called ahead for a reservation.

The food was great! Kevin amused our server by having her practice her English on us. I think this went over well, due to the fact that he speaks more than a fair amount of Spanish.

After our meal, we drove back through town, and into a large group of people who were gathered near the bridge to Catalina Island. There is a bar here, but we’d never seen it open until now, and there were more patrons on the sidewalks and street than inside. The whole scene reminded me of hanging out at the mall on a weekend  night when you were young, or riding around searching for “something going on.”

It was an inviting scene, so we parked the buggy, ordered beer from the bar and found a place to people watch from the sidewalk.

The next morning, we were off on the buggy to Southwest Bay, determined to see a horse race. As we came around a turn, and up a hill, we came right up on a herd of cattle crossing the street.

Maybe I should say sauntering, as they seemed unfazed by us, and the other traffic that swerved around them at full speed. The man herding them didn’t seem in a hurry either. Island time, I suppose.

When we arrived at Southwest Bay, it was clear that we were very, very early. We inquired about the race, and were told that yes, there would be one, at 1:00. Since the restaurant’s kitchen was just getting their fire going, we decided to have lunch elsewhere, and come back for the race.

I’d read about Roland’s Reggae Bar, on the east side of the island. Since we had transportation, this seemed like a good time to check it out. On the way, we encountered two more cows, just wandering aimlessly up the road. Each one “yelled” loudly at us as we sped by. Their horns made Scott nervous, being in a vehicle with no doors!

It was very quiet at Roland’s, and we were told that Friday night’s band and crowd had lasted until the wee hours. A friendly woman served us drinks while her children played nearby in the sand. We ordered grilled lobster, stewed crab and grilled fish for lunch (with Miller Genuine Draft beers) and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Roland’s is on the windward side of the island, so the water here is more rough, but the breezes were terrific.

I hoped they were enough to keep the sand fleas at bay, since I’d left my bug spray back on the boat! I even grabbed a rake, and worked the sand under our table, just for good measure.

It was nearing race time, so we made our way back to Southwest Bay. We didn’t encounter any cows this time, but as we made our way down the road that ends at Southwest Bay, there was a huge crowd that spread across the street in front of one of the small convenience stores.

I think it also acts as a restaurant and bar, due to the music coming out of a stack of speakers the size of a truck. It was deafening, as we squeezed through the crowd who parted for us to move through, smiling and waving as we passed by. It seemed like the island equivalent of tailgating!

Back at the beach, there were a decent amount of people milling about and eating at the restaurant, but no real crowd. We asked again if there would be a race, and were told yes! 2:30. Again…island time, so we sat at a table, ordered a beer, and waited.

Before long, a steady stream of motorcycles and scooters began to stream into the beach area, and farther down the beach, near the start point, a crowd was growing as well.

We have learned that there are only two horses, who run one race, and it is amazing to see the crowd that forms just to see this one race. Today’s race was “friendly,” with a more serious one being run on Monday (when a large cash prize is awarded). As we waited, one of horses took a practice run down the beach. A local man told us that he was the favorite, being a thoroughbred. The jockey “worked” the crowd on his way back up toward the starting point.

Soon after, we spotted two horses coming at us in the distance….. the race was on!

As they approached, the crowd crept into the path of the oncoming horses, cheering “Thoroughbred! Thoroughbred!” The “thoroughbred” did win, as predicted. We later learned that the second horse was a only 3/4 thoroughbred…..well no wonder he lost! As the winner took a victory lap, the loser disappeared into the crowd, taking a shortcut off of the beach.

Once the race was over, the crowd began to stream off of the beach on foot, scooters and in cars. We hadn’t seen a police officer all day, and the crowd was incredibly well behaved. Everyone patiently waited their turn to leave, happily chatting back and forth.

Once the crowd had thinned a bit, we squeezed back into the bench seat of our buggy and headed out. The crowd streaming out from the convenience store was even larger as we came back through, and I think they’d turned up the volume a few more notches!

There was still time left before the buggy had to be returned, so we went back to Roland’s for a bit. On the way…you guessed it, we had to swerve around another cow. This one seemed completely oblivious to us, as we motored past.

As we made our way back to town, we came upon the same herd that had crossed our path that morning. I guess they too were headed home after a long day.

So after a great dinner out, and a day of cows, reggae and finally seeing a horse race, we returned our little buggy, with a few more Providencia “must dos” checked off the list. Here are more photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”



Sea Life’s Web TV Debut!!

Sea Life has debuted on the web! Our crusing buddy, Kevin, sent us a link to Cruiser TV, a new web tv show.  The first episode features Isla Mjueres, and guess who’s in the opening scenes (with the Aluminum Princess floating proudly behind her)?? Sea Life also appears clearly in the background during a later segment as well…howdya like that?!!

We’d heard that they were filming for the show when we were in Isla Mujeres, but had no idea that Sea Life would be in the footage!

The video is 26 minutes, and although it’s not the best produced show on the net, it was neat for us to see Sea Life! She appears at about 35 seconds in, and again at about 2:05. Check it out!!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Casa de Pablo Escobar

For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t), Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord who was one of the wealthiest, most powerful and violet criminals of all time. He built several holiday homes, one of which was located on a hilltop on Catalina Island, where it is rumored that he plotted his smuggling activities.

After a quick search, here is what I learned out about Pablo Escobar.

Early on, Escobar gained prominence when he played a high-profile role in the control of Colombia’s smuggled cigarette market (called the “Marlboro Wars.”) This experience proved to be valuable training for the future narcotics dealer.

Mainland Colombia’s geographical location proved to be its biggest asset. Located at the northern tip of South America, between the thriving coca cultivation in Peru and Bolivia, the country came to dominate the global cocaine trade with the United States, the biggest market for the drug.

Under Escobar’s leadership, large amounts of coca paste were purchased in Bolivia and Peru, processed, and brought to America. Escobar worked with a small group to form the Medellin Cartel, and by the mid-1980s, he controlled more than 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States! More than 15 tons of cocaine were reportedly smuggled each day, netting the Cartel as much as $420 million a week!!

The cash was coming in so fast that Escobar purchased a Learjet for the sole purpose of flying his money. With an estimated worth of $30 billion, he was named one of the ten richest people on earth by Forbes Magazine.

In June of 1991, after a long reign of terror and violence, Escobar surrendered to the Colombian government. In return, the threat of extradition was lifted and he was allowed to build his own luxury prison (not a bad deal), which was named “La Catedral.”  Guarded by men he handpicked from among his employees, the “prison” came complete with a casino, spa and nightclub (such suffering).

In June of 1992, however, Escobar escaped when authorities attempted to move him to a more standard holding facility. A manhunt for the drug lord was launched that would last 16 months. During that time, the monopoly of the Medellin Cartel he’d formed rapidly deteriorated.

After many near misses, the Colombian law enforcement finally caught up to Escobar in December of 1993, in a middle-class neighborhood in Medellin. A firefight ensued, and as Escobar tried to escape across a series of rooftops, he and his bodyguard were shot and killed.

His death accelerated the demise of Colombia’s central role in the cocaine trade. His passing was celebrated by the country’s government and other parts of the world, but many Colombians mourned his killing. More than 25,000 people turned out for Escobar’s burial.

After learning more about this intriguing drug lord, Scott and I decided to hike up and find the house. It was seized by the Colombian government, and is collapsing, but still seemed worth a look.

We trudged over rotten mangoes, past piles and piles of coconut husks, and then along the shoreline.

Eventually, we made our way through the overgrown path, and found some switchback steps that lead up to the house. They were sloped and covered with leaves, and I wished that the ropes used to connect the posts along the way were still intact.

After a cardio workout up the steps, we arrived at what’s left of the house.

It seemed to be a three bedroom house, with two downstairs and one located above the now fallen staircase. The views must have been amazing, when the trees and brush were kept at bay.

Many of the tiles on the floors and walls were still intact and in great shape. I tried to convince Scott to try and pry some off with his machete, but had no luck.

Instead, we gathered pieces from the floor, that were in decent shape, and plan to mount them on a board to hang on the wall. I can now check “looting” off of my life list!

Then we ventured out back, where the hot tub and pool were located. Again, the views from here would have been great in it’s heyday.

We started down a set of steps that lead away from the pool, and came across the remains of what was either a guest house, or servant’s quarters. Again, the bathroom was still standing, with the tile inside in great shape.

We decided to make our way back using this path, but changed our minds quickly, when we ran into, literally, biting ants. Brushing ourselves off, as we high-tailed it back up to the house, we started back down our original path.

As we came past a clearing, Scott noticed some palm trees that still had green coconuts hanging from them. Wanting some to serve our friends coco locos in, he began to try and climb up to get to them.

When that didn’t work, I directed him to a shorter tree, with one green coconut that he could easily pick by hand.

Not satisfied with just one, he went back to the first tree, and again tried to climb it, this time using one of the fronds as a rope. Unfortunately, this also proved unsuccessful.

Scott is nothing if not determined, so next he tried using one of the dead fronds to knock the coconuts loose. Again, no luck.

Still not defeated, he found some rocks, and heaved them at the tree top…nope.

Finally, he admitted defeat, and we continued on, with one coconut to take home.

We arrived back at the boat, covered head to toe in sweat. Scott likes to say that we came away from Pablo Escobar’s house with a “kilo”…..of tiles!

Here are many more photos of our hike up to Pablo’s house.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”




When we visited Delmar on our golf buggy day, he invited us to return for rondón, a traditional African-Caribbean dish. It sounded like fun, and meant more coco locos, so we agreed to come back. After spreading the word around the anchorage a bit, we wound up with a group of ten. Delmar’s place is “just around the corner” from the anchorage, so we were able to arrive by water.

We are unable to get off of the bow of Aluminum Princess, so while the inflatable dinghies pulled up onto the sand, Scott anchored us fore and aft.

We then waded to shore, and made our way across the beach and up the steps to Delmar’s.

He immediately came to greet us, and made quick work of cutting coconuts, which he serves the coco locos in.

He was quite the one man show, serving us drinks, and another group food. We chatted and enjoyed the view, while waiting for our turn at rondón.


After doing a bit of research, I’ve learned that rodon is a soup made up of different types of seafood (fish, crabs, small lobsters or shellfish), with coconut milk, plantains, vegetables, peppers and spices. The word rondon comes from the words “run down”, which refer to going down somewhere to look for vegetables or fruits for cooking the dish.

Rondón is a traditional dish shared by different countries, so the ingredients and spices vary from region to region. Our rondón meal was “interesting;” not the most flavorful meal I’ve ever had. Aside from a dumpling, plantains, and some kind of fish, it was hard to discern what else was on our plate (I’m fairly sure that it included a pig’s tail).

Both the food and sauce were grayish in color, and it was very hard for me to get a knife through any of it it. Oh well, we try and be open to new things on this journey, and the drinks and views more than made up for it.

When it was our turn to eat, we all gathered around a large table under the palapa. Delmar played music for us while we ate. I think he enjoyed the break.

After dinner, the instruments came out, and Delmar and his friends entertained us.

As the sun set, some of our group made their way back to the anchorage, while Kevin and Marina and Scott and I stayed. Delmar built us a fire on the beach, and we enjoyed ourselves until way after dark.

Although it wasn’t our favorite meal, our host, the atmosphere and of course the coco locos were great, and we can now check rondón off of our list! Here are a few photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”


Touring Providencia By Buggy

Wanting to tour the island, we  headed into town with Marina and Kevin in tow, looking to rent a golf cart for the day. We learned that there are two choices for rental transportation here on Providencia, scooters and golf buggys…yes, golf buggys. They’re kind of a golf cart on steroids, which was needed for the island roads. We hopped in a buggy, and headed off.

Kevin and Marina had visited the island last year, on their way to Honduras, so Kevin was our driver and guide (with input from Scott, of course!). Our first stop was Almond Bay. We parked our buggy near a quirky and inviting bus stop. What a fun place to wait for a ride!

We followed the paved path down to the water, where Delmar greeted us with a smile, and an offer of coco locos. He lives on site in a tiny wooden house, built over a little bar. In the trees near the house, Delmar has built many places to sit and relax,  while enjoying your coco loco.

We sat at a table in the shade, and Delmar delivered our coco locos in a fresh carved coconut glass. It wasn’t even noon, but at least it was a Saturday!

After passing out instruments, and giving instructions on how to play them correctly (maraccas and a metal guiro require a specific technique!), Delmar entertained us with a song.

We could have stayed all day, but there was much more to see, so we said our goodbyes to Delmar and continued on.

There is a popular hike to a high point on the island, called the peak. Kevin and Scott were determined to find out where the path started. There was much discussion, and it lead us off road, until I pressed for a turn-around.

After passing another happy bus stop, we pulled over for water (and beer). A man was butchering a pig under a tree nearby. By the looks of the pile of meat, he’d been at it for quite awhile!

Our next stop was Southwest Bay, where there is a horse race…on most Saturdays. Unfortunately, we arrived on a “off” week (something about drama with one of the jockeys). We’d heard that the food was really good at the beachfront restaurant here, so this was as good a place as any to have lunch! There is a huge, open kitchen, and food is prepared on a massive wood stove. We shared terrific platters of fish, shrimp and lobster with rice and fried plantains…delish!

I made a run to what is becoming a familiar sight, when seeking a public restroom. Afterward, I learned that the large barrel of water is supposed to be used for “self-serve flushing.”

To it’s credit, it was very clean, but I’m really starting to miss toilet seats!

After lunch, we stopped at Deep Blue, one of a very few upscale-type places here on the island. Our drinks were higher than average, more like U.S. prices, but the view was worth it.

We’re getting used to the exchange rate here, and still gasp when we get a bill like this:

Thankfully, the total in U.S. dollars is only 24.50.

On our way back to town, we passed all kinds of interesting art. The landfill here has made good use of old tires, turning them into planters, along a mural painted on the wall, while mosaic fish and other animals decorate the school grounds.

We passed a restaurant that wasn’t open yet. Due to the huge pile of empty bottles in the front yard, I thought they may be closed after completely selling out of wine! It seems they also sell a considerable amount of beer, too!

By the time we made our way back into town to return the buggy we were hungry again, so we shared a pepperoni pizza at place off the main road. We are continuously amazed to find really good pizza as we travel!

As the sun set, we headed back to our respective boats for the night, satisfied with our circumnavigation of Providencia.

Here are more photos from our island buggy tour.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”


Catalina Island And Morgan’s Head

Santa Catalina Island was originally part of Providencia, until the pirate Louis Aury dug a channel between the two (part of what is now referred to as the Aury canal), creating the smaller island. With a population of approximately 100 residents, the island is much less developed than the already less developed Providencia. Connected to its larger sister-island by Lover’s Bridge, Catalina has one shop, a few beautiful beaches and a couple of restaurants.

Lover’s Bridge has two wooden spans that are connected by a floating section, which has a low arch for small boats to pass under.  Before the bridge was constructed, people crossed back and forth in dug out canoes. The colorful bridge provides a cheerful link between the two islands.

Just off of Catalina Island is a huge rock, carved by wind and waves, that resembles a human face. It’s named after the pirate Henry Morgan, who sailed these waters in the seventeenth century. It was overcast as we came past Morgan’s Head on our way in, and I’m not keen for a trip past it in the Aluminum Princess, so I borrowed this photo from the internet.

Morgan made Providencia, Santa Catalina and San Andres his personal refuge, and used the area as a base for continuing attacks against the Spanish Empire. Rumor has it that there is still much of his treasure buried on the island, and that there are chests of gold and jewels under Morgan’s Head (Scott is practicing his free diving skills!). Providencia was a haven for pirates, and many locals claim to be descendants.

We can see the hill above Morgan’s Head from the anchorage, and set out one afternoon to climb it. It’s a easy go for the most part, following the paved road that runs along the water’s edge, and then up a million steps.

At the top is a statue of the Virgin Mary, and a fort that dates from the days of piracy on the island. The fort was used to defend the area, as it had a clear view of the surrounding area and reefs.

There were also great views of the anchorage below.

We then climbed down a million more steep, sloped steps, to Fort Beach below….

Then back up, and back down the other side again; it was a sweaty go. Note to self, climbing two million steps in the early morning is a much better idea! Here are more photos of Catalina Island, and our climb above Morgan’s Head.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”




Providencia Island

The island of Providencia sits approximately 140 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, but is owned by the country of Colombia, almost 500 miles away.

If you draw a straight line from Costa Rica to Jamaica, Providencia sits just about in the middle. Here’s a map I found online that gives you a better visual idea.

As is common among islands in the Caribbean, Providencia has been ruled/claimed by many…the Dutch, England, Argentina, Spain, and Colombia (with Nicaragua threatening ownership since the 1980’s).

There are approximately 6,000 residents on Providencia, and although the island is part of Colombia, it definitely feels more Caribbean than Colombian. There are many Rastafarians, and the locals mostly speak English or English-based creole similar to what you’d hear in Jamaica, rather than the Spanish of Colombia.

The island has not yet been consumed by mass tourism. There are a few small hotels, along with some cottages and guest houses for rent. Restaurants are few, and bars even fewer. The local people are friendly, and the island is incredibly laid back and safe. It feels like what I imagine the Caribbean must have been like 30 years ago.

Providencia suffers from regular, seasonal droughts and water can be scarce. Tourists are encouraged to minimize their water consumption for the benefit of the local community and the island as a whole. During the dry season (January – July/August), some local people frequently endure weeks without water in their homes. The island tap water isn’t fit for consumption, so all drinking water has to be shipped in.

Providencia has what’s called a tropical dry forest, which is why the hills look so brown. The extensive dry season here causes the deciduous trees to drop their leaves. Because trees lose moisture through their leaves, dropping them allows the trees trees to conserve water during dry periods. The newly bare trees enable the rain that does fall to pass more easily onto the ground below.

After we arrived here, it took us four days to  clear in and get our passports back. Colombia law requires you to use an agent when clearing in, you cannot do it yourself. Mr. Bush, the agent here on Providencia, is not in a rush. Needless to say, Scott was “twitterpated.”

The exchange rate is ridiculous here; 3,050 pesos to $1.00! Scott is happy to finally be a multi millionaire! When he goes to the atm, there is a withdrawl limit of 300,000 pesos….or roughly $100.00.

The commercial pier is constantly busy. Unlike Guanaja, or the Bahamas, where a boat comes weekly with supplies, we saw boats come and go daily, unloading all sorts of stuff.

There is no formal public transportation on the island. If you need a ride, your options are either in the back of a pick up truck, or 3-4 at a time on the back of a motorcycle! Here’s the “cab” that took us to the other side of the island for dinner one night.

It was quite a balancing act, as he traveled the curvy island road. The man also had trouble with his clutch, and Scott had to jump out and give him a push into this gas station; there was no reduction on our $6.00 fare.

After dinner, we expected to easily get a ride back to the dock, but this wasn’t the case. By 9pm, the locals aren’t running their “taxis” anymore. Luckily, a worker at the restaurant offered to take us back on his motorcycle, in two runs; first Marina and Kevin and then Scott and me. I am kicking myself for not getting photos of this! It had poured rain while we were at dinner, so the roads were wet, and I was unable to completely get the “road juice” out of the back of Scott’s shirt. It was quite an experience!

We’ve enjoyed our time here, exploring the island and spending time with Kevin and Marina as well as the other cruisers. Here are more photos of Providencia.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”