First Lunch

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Mon 21 Jan 2013 23:02
Our First Mini-Bimble and Lunch in Providencia
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This morning saw all the fleet take a slow start to the day, last night’s welcoming party aboard Nauti-Nauti ensured everyone slept well. The Port Captain told us all we had anchored in the channel and would we mind kindly moving to the other side with a cheery “Welcome to our island”.
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No problem, we all moved and now we are nestled with the bridge connecting Santa Catalina to the main island as our view, in shallow water with a lovely breeze, Bamboo bar a short hop in Baby Beez to our left.
So here we are on an island we knew little about other than it belongs to Colombia and is not one bit touristy. The islanders leave that to their fellow countrymen on San Andreas, fifty five miles away, which became the holiday haunt of the Colombian rich and famous, with that came a bit of a bad drug habit......

Isla de Providencia or Old Providence is a mountainous Caribbean island part of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, a department of Colombia, lying midway between Costa Rica and Jamaica. Providencia's maximum elevation is 360 m above sea level. The smaller Santa Catalina Island is connected by a 100 metre footbridge to its larger sister Providencia Island.

The island was the site of an English Puritan colony established in 1629 by the Providence Island Company, and was briefly taken by Spain in 1641. The infamous pirate Henry Morgan used Providencia as a base for raiding the Spanish empire, and rumours suggest that much of his treasure remains hidden on the island. Many parts of the island are named after Morgan. Forts and cannons dating back hundreds of years can be found scattered all over Santa Catalina Island.

The municipality of Providencia (which includes the smaller Santa Catalina Island lying to the north of Providencia Island, as well as several uninhabited cayes to the North and East) had a population of 5,011 at the 2007 official estimates, and receives just 15,000 visitors per year. The island is one of Colombia's top scuba diving destinations, with a 32 km long barrier reef protecting the Eastern coast of the island.

Providencia leaves us with two hundred and sixty four miles to reach Panama. We hope to leave here on the morning of the 26th to be in Shelter Bay on the 28th, weather dependent of course. Until then, time to explore our new surroundings.
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The first job of the day was obviously to move and check the anchor, then dinghy in to pay Bush a visit to pay our dues, get some more pesos out of the whole in the wall and try and work out the big numbers involved over a cool beer. The 1000 Peso chap on the left is worth thirty six pence and the 20,000 chap on the right seven pounds and fourteen pence.
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Two cats, two mono crews make up the great eight.
We bumped into Eric and Dee (Sirena) on shore, paid Bush and thought it necessary to visit the Bamboo Bar – just for the wi-fi code.......... We popped into the Tourist Information Office, armed with welcome dvd, pamphlets and a booking for us all to go snorkeling tomorrow, we walked over the bridge and low and behold, Nauti-Nauti and Le Chat Beaute were half way through their first ??? suds of the day. Our host explained he was closed for the day to do some maintenance and repairs but as there were eight of us he would call the cook and see if she would come in. Were we in a rush – no, we’re retired. Fifteen minutes later a lovely rotund lady with the biggest, whitest smile arrived and was soon offering us conch, fried fish, shrimp or crab claw, all Creole style or in garlic butter. We had the choice of mango, pineapple or strawberry juice, freshly whizzed with our food. As Social Director, Patricia found out the prices and worked out what each couple owed. Our celebration lunch, Bear had conch, I had plain fried kingfish, served with salad, fried plantain and rice, several beers and juices all for the princely sum of twenty three pounds and no need to eat for the rest of the day.
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Time to wend our way back to Beez for a game of backgammon. We passed this house, very typical of the island. The chewed up front lawn is due to the many, many crabs who also call it home.
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The gang on the bridge, yes, it does lean to the left. On what the locals call the tunnel we could just see some Colombian soldiers, oh how young they looked, but all smiled in greeting.
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Crossing the bridge we stopped to watch a group of spotted eagle ray
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Once more on the Providencia side of the bridge we all admired the tile picture of Santa Catalina
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The fish statue made us think of Plymouth whilst more info was sought about tomorrows trip.
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A new plate to the collection, couldn’t resist this beauty in a front garden and Queenie and I settled in the internet café to catch up. A one hour chunk for one pound forty. Twenty five emails read and dealt with, definitely time to be back on Beez.
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