Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Sun 22 May 2011 16:19
13:22.73N 081:22.56W  Santa Isabel, Providencia
We have been enjoying the small island of Providencia for a few days. While politically a part of Columbia (900kms away) and physically closest to Nicaragua (200kms away), it is much more reminiscent of the ex British colonies in the Eastern Caribbean. The colourful architecture is similar, most people are Protestant, there are many black people, lots of reggae and soca music, and English is widely spoken. The locals also speak what they call Creole, which has English, not French as it's base.
We had some problems with the alternator and Mike, in his usual tenacious manner, decided to fix it. He needed a two sealed bearings, which amazingly he managed to find with the help of a few locals. Although there are under 6000 people on the island, they have many scooters and small motor cycles, which also use bearings. During the saga of buying the bearings, Mike met a scooter taxi driver called Everesto who offered to take us on a tour of the island.
Yesterday he arrived with his nephew & a small pick-up (bakkie), which had been rigged out with some rather rickety benches in the back..and off we went on our 25km circumnavigation of the island. Our first stop was the beach at South West Bay, where we met some local fishermen who were cleaning their fish, including the very hardskinned TriggerFish, which they peel with amazing dexterity. We had a swim and Everesto told us about the island and about some of their sporting activities. There is a 2 horse race that is run every few weeks down this beach, with bare-back riders and lots of betting! Unfortunately we only saw
the horses practicing, not the real thing. There is also a cat boat race (smallish open boat with a sail, with 8 crew) from this beach round the south coast to Manchaneel Bay - this also includes some very active betting, as does the cock-fighting. We did not ask too much about the latter.
We then went to a house in the town for lunch - Morrie's Place - where we ate the most delicious HogFish, prepared with garlic, sweet peppers and a smoky BBQ sauce and complimented with potatoes, yam and yucca. We then continued our drive around the island, stopping for another swim and later popped into a soft-ball game, watching the women pay while enjoying another cold beer. They have many kinds of beer here, including ones that come in 175ml and 200ml bottles, just enough for one looooong gulp on a hot summer's day.
The people here are very friendly and laid back, and the little tourism there is, is from passing yachts or from the mainland of Columbia. The large planes fly in to the larger sister island of San Andres (about 90kms away) and then passengers take a ferry or a small plane to Providencia. Today is Sunday, and everything is closed, people are in Church and will later head to the beach with their families. It would seem that the people are very proud of their unique culture and are trying to maintain it.