Once we were settled at anchor we hailed Mr. Bush, the mandatory agent to clear Customs and Immigration. He advised us not to go ashore. He stated he would come out to the boat at 1300hours. And come out he did; along with a panga full of people. First, we were seen by a Doctor who asked to see our Immunization Cards. This is a first and thankfully we were given one in Grenada when we had our yellow fever shots. She was concerned we had not had flu shots. She took our pulse and asked if we had any ailments. Next, was a young gentleman from Sanitation who turns on our taps, checked to make sure the toilets worked, checked out our freezer and said we could not leave any garbage on shore. Okay. Immigration was next who took our passports and said we would not get them back until tomorrow evening..1800hours. Lastly, was a woman who we are not sure knew what her responsibility was. She certainly did not seem too interested in being on the boat, but was told to take copies all the copies I had made of our paperwork. Maybe she was in training? Mr. Bush explained that when we go to shore tomorrow evening at we would receive all the paperwork along with the passports. He also told us there is NO CRIME here.
Providencia known as The Pearl of the Caribbean----(we did not find or hear of any pearls---Must be one of the Captain Morgan stories?,) is located 240km East of the Central American coastline. There is a 32km barrier reef on the N, NE, and S. sides of the island. Isla Providencia also includes the renowned Isla Catalina plus a number of Cays. These Islands are in fact part of the San Andres archipelago and belong to Colombia. Daily we saw the army patrolling both Providencia and Catalina as there has been talk that
Nicaragua wants to over take these islands.
Isla Catalina is joined to Isla Providencia by a low floating bridge over the 100 meter artificial channel, dredged in the XVII century by pirates to protect the possible invasion of these islands. The infamous pirate Henry Morgan in fact used Providencia as a base for his raids on the Spanish empire.
The majority of the 5000 people live close to the main town of Isabella. We found the people very friendly and helpful. All the Island’s supplies come from the sister island of San Andres, 72km to the south which explains the expensive and disappointing quality of the fruit and veggies. Actually in general we found the Islands to be expensive. We did however find the Islands incredibly clean. Every few yards there were blue water barrels used as garbage cans.
Our personal priority was to get on the internet to communicate with family and friends to let them know all was well. Randy tried from shore with High States in background. We found one wi-fi business but unfortunately they are not licensed to let us use our own computer.
Needing to purchase diesel we rented this golf cart for 4 hours at a cost of $75.00 US. Ouch!! The fuel ended up being over $6.00 a gallon totalling $181.00 Ouch again!!
But we did enjoy circling the island making a number of stops to take in the beautiful views. We stopped for a cold drink at Manchaneel Bay and then lunch at Don Olivio which was very expensive: 24,000peso or $15.00 for one small fajita with a bit of pork on it and very small portions of salsa, beans and guacamole and two glasses of juice. Thank goodness we shared the meal and were not too hungry.
Here we are sharing the road...Well, it is not like we are in a hurry as it will only take us about an hour to get around the island.
We found Orville at his Bamboo Restaurant over on Santa Catalina very friendly. He was born and raised on Providencia and spoke fluent English. He has a dinghy dock in front of the restaurant.
Swimming was great in the protected waters of Morgan’s Cove and the snorkelling was pretty good. It was just nice to get into the water after Bocas.
One of the many caves we found. Alas still no treasure to be found. Mind you there are many types of treasures.
We’ve got a weather window to head further north west. We must meet Mr. Bush again to pick up our Zarpe and passports. Again we are told to meet him and the Immigration Officer at 1800hours. There are in fact three boats checking out heading the same general direction. We all get to the shore on time and Mr. Bush is there however we had to wait until 2000 hours before the Immigration Officer showed up with our passports. Now it is really dark and we all need to stow dinghy’s etc. As soon as we have our passports in hand we get back to High States, get the motor off the dinghy, secure the dinghy when we get a call from Hooligan (Tim and Paula) asking if we still have our dinghy in the water. They have also hoisted their dinghy and upon checking their passports they have not been stamped…Another cruiser comes and picks Tim up to get him back to shore while Mr. Bush finds Immigration. Very frustrating needless to say.