Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Leaving Isla Providencia for Grand Cayman Island

May 15
Isla Providencia, Colombia

We enjoyed three nice rest days here at Isla Providencia.

Our late clearing in to Colombia yesterday went smoothly, although I didn't know I had to bring our zarpe from Panama and Josh had to make quick trip back to the boat. Mr. Bush had given me the impression that we would just be dealing with immigration, but I found myself seated at a table with half a dozen officials, including a representative from the Port Captain who needed our zarpe.  (A zarpe is an all-imporant document in Latin America that proves that you have been given permission to leave one country for another.  No zarpe, no entry into the next country.) The Colombian officials were very pleasant, except for the Port Captain guy and I was served coffee. No complaints.

We had rented a Kawasaki Mule, a mini-jeep, to tour the island after our check in was finished. We circumnavigated the island in a clockwise direction, spending most of our day at Roland's Restaurant at Playa de Manzanillo at the south end of the island.  We enjoyed a nice fish lunch, cold beers, good reggae music, warm Caribbean  hospitality, swimming, walking on the beach, yoga, and people watching.

When I took my turn to walk on the beach I came across a small family- mom, dad, little boy. Mom was taking pictures of dad and son. I stopped and asked (in Spanish) if they would like me to take a picture of them together. I'm at the point now where I pretty much speak Spanish without thinking in English, though it's always lurking in the background.  As I took the picture I automatically said, "Dice queso!" ("Say cheese!") which makes absolutely no sense in Spanish. So the first picture I took has the family all looking puzzled rather than smiling. I had to take another one.

Isla Providencia is sparsely populated with small settlements around its coast and a virtually uninhabited interior. The land rises steeply from the sea with the highest peak 1160 feet above sea level. It is densely vegetated but rainfall has been unusually low in recent years, so everything is dry and the predominant color of the landscape is a brownish-green. I imagine with normal rainfall, the island would be much more lush and verdant. The only main road circles the island and there are very, very few cars and trucks and many, many motor scooters. Yet outside of the main town, traffic is very light and the road is in great condition, very pleasant for touring in a vehicle that only goes 25 mph.

This morning,  Roy and Josh went to a spa to enjoy a massage and some other sorts of beauty treatments. I, grizzled, calloused sailor that I am,  stayed on the boat to tighten up the rig and repair the jib furling line. They came back looking refreshed but I saw no improvement to their looks, although Josh said his skin felt very soft and offered to let me feel it. I took his word for it and declined. I'm afraid sailing crews aren't like they were back in the old days. Imagine Henry Morgan's crew using their shore leave to get pedicures.

After the spa, Josh went snorkeling and Roy and I hiked to the peak of the island. It was a pretty strenuous climb through the jungle and was supposed to take an hour and half to get to the peak according to the woman registering hikers at the trailhead. We only had about 45 minutes to get there and back, as it was 3 pm and we had drive back to town and be at Mr. Bush's to clear out at five. Roy made it to the top of the peak in 50 minutes, I  almost made it to the top in that time and we both did the round trip in the hour and half.  We had a great workout, were soaked in sweat and the trailhead woman was impressed.

Clearing out at Mr. Bush's involved a bit of sitting around and chatting before our passports were delivered by the immigration official. We followed up with dinner ashore and then back to the boat to prep for setting sail to the Cayman Islands in the morning.

We plan to weigh anchor at about 0900 and expect to arrive at Grand Cayman about 72 hours later. The suggested winds look great- a steady 14-17 knots from the East or ESE, a perfect beam reach for our 0 degrees, true North rhumb line. Unfortunately, it is also suggested that it will be cloudy the whole trip, with patches of rain. No sunny, blue Caribbean sea this time. There have been some incidents of yachts being harassed and attacked along coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras. I'm glad that we will be no less than 110 miles off those coasts and often much more, well away from the shallow water areas where the bad guys have been reported. We will be vigilant, nonetheless.