CTP – Blog 9 – Providencia, Colombia

Leaving Cuba — headed to Providencia

On Friday, May 27 we left Cuba behind as we motor sailed south towards a waypoint just west of the Cayman Islands, on route to Providencia, Colombia. The seas were nice and calm, but we didn’t have the right wind angle once again.
By day two we had already adjusted the sails to a more favorable wind, but by the end of the day, just after reaching our first waypoint southwest of Grand Cayman, the wind came from the southeast again forcing us to sail off course. Slowly, but surly we pinched our way into the wind the whole night until it changed back out of the east and we were able to set our course south for day three.

photo of a double rainbow in the caribbean sea

photo of a booby bird in the caribbean sea

Every once in a while we would hit a squall, nothing too severe thankfully.
Night watches — if only there was a way to show you or explain what it’s like at night time in the middle of the ocean. From the bio-luminescence sparkling in the wake of the boat to the unimaginable amount of stars in the sky. Some nights there’s lightning shows all around, and some nights you see nothing due to clouds (and I literally mean nothing). Most times I sit there, meditate and pray. I think we tend to live such busy lives that we never give ourselves the chance to slow down and reflect. I’ve now spent countless hours reflecting on my life and I feel confident that I am ready for the journey that lies ahead. Never have I felt as small as I do these nights, at the mercy of the wind and sea. I am so grateful for that deep, unavoidable solitude.
Upon waking up for my 12:00 watch on Tuesday, May 31st I was happy to see land dead ahead of us on the horizon… Providencia, Colombia!

Photo of Providencia, Colombia in the Caribbean Sea

 

Although Providencia is owned by Colombia it is very far from the mainland. In fact it is an island that lies more or less in the middle of the southwest Caribbean Sea, off the Nicaraguan coast, halfway between Jamaica and Costa Rica. I learned right away that it had a much higher elevation than the other Caribbean islands I have been to, the water was clear and the reefs plenty (third largest barrier coral reef in the world), and lots of trees. As we pulled into the anchorage I could smell fruit, which I later learned was the abundance of mango trees on the island (I ended up eating tons).

 

Photo of santa catalina island in providencia with morgans head
Santa Catalina Island with Morgans Head
Photo of Providencia, Colombia with Morgans Ass in the background
Providencia anchorage with Split Hill (Morgans Ass) in the background.

Arriving in Providencia

We arrived in the anchorage near Santa Isabel, Providencia (aka Old Providencia or Downtown) in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 31st. Although we could not get our immigration done they did not seem to have a problem with us wandering around town.
Right away I found out that there was free wifi in town and it actually worked pretty good! Finally I was able to connect with friends and family, and most importantly Romi (who was still in Hawaii, go check out her Instagram for photos). The Captain and I had dinner at Miss Lucy’s Restaurant which ended up being a great location for a cheap, tasty, and filling lunch.

 

Photo of Santa Isabel, ProvidenciaPhoto of a street in Providencia, Colombia Photo of Restaurante Miss Lucy in Providencia
The next morning we went in to meet Mr. Bush to deal with our immigration. There was a line already with other sailors doing the same so we joined the group. I met a fellow hitch sailor named Matt from Australia who was crewing on a Canadian boat from Panama (he also has a Podcast that you can check out called Cuba2Rio). He and I did some exploring that afternoon to check out Isla Santa Catalina which you get to by a beautiful foot bridge from Santa Isabel. Our immigration wasn’t done until the next day, but there was no rush for us.

 

Photo of Mr. Bush in Providencia, ColombiaPhoto of a guy in Providenciaphoto of the foot bridge from providencia to santa catalina

Exploring Providencia

On Friday, the 3rd of June, the Captain had rented a mule (4-wheeler) to use for hauling gas and water. We decided to make the most of it so we also went on a tour of the island. At the southeast end there is a community called Bottom House where we parked and began our hike of el Pico, which is the highest peak on the island. We took our time stopping to take pictures, drink water, eat mangoes, and soak up the scene. A couple hours later we were at the top, and what a view it was!

 

photo of a street in providencia, colombia by stevie vagabond
A street in the Bottom House neighborhood.
photo of the entrance to el pico on Providencia
Entrance to el Pico hike.
photo of a sign at the beginning of el pico on providencia
Along the way there were many signs explaining the plants and animals of the trail.
photo of the beginning of the trail to el pico on providencia
The start to the trail.
photo of a dangerous tree in Providencia
The animals were not a problem here, but some of the trees looked pretty viscous!
photo of el Pico trail on Providencia
The trail nearing the top.
Photo of Isla Santa Catalina, Providencia
First view of Santa Catalina through the trees.
photo of the barrier reef in Providencia
View of the Barrier Reef to the southeast.
photo of stevie vagabond at the highest peak on providencia, colombia
Made it — the camera is actually at the the peak, and I am a few feet lower.

After the hike we finished up the drive around the eastern side of the island and back to Santa Isabel at the northwest. We were pretty exhausted.

The next day I decided to take it easy and just go hang out at Morgan’s Head on Santa Catalina. On my way there I found a nice secluded beach with a giant mango tree providing shade while almost dipping into the water. I stopped to take pictures and in that process my GoPro had fallen over near the incoming tide without its waterproof casing, and thus filled with water. I got it as quick as possible, but it was too late. RIP GoPro number four.

 

photo of stevie vagabond hanging in a mango tree on providencia
Hanging around at Mango Beach 🙂
photo of a local Colombian boy in Providencia
Local boy taking five.
photo of a local colombian boy doing a front flip in Providencia
This reminded me so much of Black Point, Exuma.
photo of a local colombian boy in providencia with sailboats in the background
Just love this photo with the anchored boats in the background.
Photo of a little colombian girl playing with a cat in providencia
A little Colombian girl who was on vacation in Providencia with her parents.
Photo of the virgin mary on santa catalina, in providencia, colombia
Statue of the Virgin Mary on Santa Catalina.
Photo of a blue lizard on providencia, colombia
These guys were everywhere!
Photo of Fort Warwick on Santa Catalina Island, Providencia
Fort Warwick on Santa Catalina
Photo of an iguana on santa catalina, providencia
Found a few iguanas as well.

On Sunday the Captain and I took the dingy under the Santa Catalina footbridge 2 miles to Cayo Cangrejo (Crab Cay), where we spent the day lounging in the sun, and snorkeling the surrounding reefs. I went out a bit further east than most people were going, closer to the edge of the reef, in hopes of finding some bigger animals and I was rewarded with three sea turtles! For much more than that id have to strap a tank on and go to the outer edge of the reef. I ended up getting a bit too much sun, and when I got back to the boat I looked like a lobster.

 

Photo of Stevie Vagabond on Cayo Cangrejo in Providencia
Selfie at the top of Cayo Cangrejo.
photo of Cayo Cangrejo, Colombia
Cayo Cangrejo (Crab Cay), Colombia
Photo of reefs off of Cayo Cangrejo, Colombia
This is where I snorkeled out to find my sea turtle friends.
photo of providencia from cayo cangrejo
Tour boats run tourists out here, which kept it a bit too busy for my liking.
Photo of a crab on Cayo Cangrejo, Colombia
Also famous for giving the island it’s name of course.
Photo of local colombians on Cayo Cangrejo near Providencia
A few of the local who work on Cayo Cangrejo.

On Monday I decided to find out how to hike the islands famous Split Hill (aka Morgan’s Ass). It isn’t a typical tourist hike so there’s no instructions on where to enter and there are not really any set trails. After asking around I got one of the locals to give me a ride on his motorcycle to someone’s house. I then passed through their yard and the horses fields behind. There the incline began and I started hiking my way through the trees and brush. One type of tree I learned quickly is a home to fire ants, and I could not avoid them sometimes. Occasionally I had to stop to put my backpack down and shake off all the ants on me. Those little guys really have a painful bite that lingers on for a while and leaves terrible marks. I eventually made it to the top, or crack, and once again had a beautiful view of this gorgeous volcanic island.

Photo of Split Hill from the top on Providencia
The peak of Split Hill.
Photo of stevie vagabond jumping on top of Split Hill in Providencia
Pretty excited about reaching another peak on Providencia.
photo of stevie vagabond on Providencia, Colombia
Spent some good time enjoying the view and saying some prayers.

My last few days in Isla de Providencia I spent relaxing, hanging in my hammock under mango trees, snorkeling around Morgan’s Head, eating at Miss Lucy’s, and playing street soccer with the local kids.

 

Photo of local colombian boys on a tablet in Providencia
These guys sat next to me whenever I was working on my blog playing games on their tablet.
photo of mangoes on providencia
Mangoes!
Photo of local fisherman on Providencia
Local fisherman cleaning their catches of the day.
Photo of locals on motorbikes in Providencia
Most locals got around the island on bikes.
Photo of empanadas in Providencia
I ate so many of these empanadas!
photo of a little colombian girl in Providencia
Playing peek-a-boo with this sweetie.
Photo of local colombian boys playing soccer in Providencia
Soccer until bedtime with these guys.
Photo of local colombian boys playing soccer on Providencia
They were definitely very skilled considering there was no organized soccer on the island.
Photo of local colombian boys during sunset on providencia
The boys sitting and enjoying the sunset while a nurse shark swam under their feet.

On Tuesday, June 14 after two weeks of stay on this magical little-visited, and little-known island of Providencia, we began our final leg of the journey to Colon, Panama.

 

Question:

Where’s the most remote place you have been?

  2 comments for “CTP – Blog 9 – Providencia, Colombia

  1. Stuart North
    June 27, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Thanks for posting your interesting photos of the Colombian Island of Providencia. It looks like an unspoiled island covered with dry tropical forest and some beautiful reefs to explore. Off the beaten track so to speak. The SE winds must have made sailing a bit challenging! I can relate to your experiences on the night watch – the immensity of the heavens and the billions of stars I found overwhelming!
    I’m glad you and the skipper made to Panama OK. …………. best wishes, Stuart

    • stevievagabond
      June 27, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Thank you for your continued feedback Stuart. It really means a lot! Providencia was spectacular and I would recommend it to everyone!
      It is nice to have arrived in Panama 🙂

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