As I write this reflective piece for the blog I am sitting in the cockpit while we sail across the Honduras Banks towards the Hobbies. The sky and sea are the brightest mixes of blue and dolphins have been playing alongside the boat for an hour now. We have a rolling following sea of which we are surfing at approximately 6knots. Life is good, weather fine and we should be in the Hobbies too soon, early hours of the morning and will have to hove too and wait for 1st light.
On route to Providencia we were sailing with Colin and Anne on their sailboat Landmark. The whole morning was a very quiet sail until I spotted a whale, then a pod of whales, plus we had dolphin swimming along with us.
We had arranged to take photos of each others boats, so in the middle of the “photo shoot” ziiiinnnggg!! the rods sound out the alert of fish on line. Down with the camera, John to the rods, Jen to attend to Chico and the wheel. It looked to be 2 great fish, but unfortunately the 1st broke the line and the 2nd slipped the hook. Chico looked at John with a very disdainful look. Meanwhile Colin on Landmark was “shooting” the boat and fishing. Then just before we started to head in ziiiinnnggg!! again. this time we caught a small tunny – Chico was very happy, next we caught a big barracuda which John released.
Meanwhile back to our time in Providencia. We spent 9 days there and really enjoyed all of everyday.
Our first walk took us along the shoreline of Isla Santa Catalina towards Morgan’s Head, but stopped at the fort, Fort Aury. The walk takes you over the charming foot bridge called Lovers Lane (Puente de los Enamorados), and right along the shoreline where a there is a well laid path of pavers decorated with symbols of plants.
To one side you look out over the shallows to the very attractive anchorage with the village in the background. On the other side are small local homes ranging from traditional wooden to new concrete design. Most homes being gaily painted with pretty gardens, others being more the working home of the fisherman or the laundress. Between the homes run pathway towards the hills or mangroves areas with crabs and lizards scuttling around. It was a lovely walk, but being the afternoon it was hot as in the direct sun with little shade.
At the end of the path we climbed a steep stairway to the statue of what I assume is the Virgin Mary that looks out over the anchorage and village. There we enjoyed the shade below the statue with the lovely breeze that was blowing and admired the magnificent view of 360 degrees. It really is a spectacular island. Above the statue was the remains of Fort Aury. We clambered up the hillside to the cannons, which were pointed out over the Harbour and agreed it was too hot to venture any further along the pathway.
We followed the path back to the bridge and then continued on in the other direction under the shade of the mangroves. Again the pathway was interesting, at the end we found a sign telling us it was the site of where Protestants were burned and pirates were hung in the 1800s. An odd mix to hang and burn?
Back on the boat we changed into bathing suits and went snorkeling off Morgan’s Head. Named after the famous pirate Henry Morgan who sailed these waters. This is a very scenic area of Isla Catalina the shoreline being covered in
coconut palms, the water crystal clear with the coral reef shining through. The snorkeling here was average. We did see many reef fish, schools of Jacks and Fry, a very large Barracuda and a good assortment of juvenile fish, but there was much algae which we assumed meant the water was just too still and hot. We headed around Isla Catalina in the dingy rounding the whole island on our way back to the boat. It is a very photogenic area.
One day, along with Colin and Anne off of svLandfall, we hired a mule. Setting off clockwise around the island, (there is only one road around the island). We stopped off first of all at an amazing looking bus stop in the shape of a octopus. (We noticed later that all the bus stops are of unique design). This also was the entrance to one of the popular beaches. We walked down to the beach where we found a hut and some locals selling local music and trinkets. We ended up buying a CD and a pair of Lionfish fin earrings, which are quite unusual. The beach was empty but looked to be a popular spot. The 2-story hut was the home of the entrepreneur who lived there supplying drinks and trinkets to visitors. This structure was quite a colourful structure made from what looked like painted driftwood.
Next stop was for mid morning coffee for the coffee drinkers. We found a lovely hotel with a grassy terrace by the water where we were served – coffee for 3 and a sour sap fresh juice for myself. There we looked out at the divers setting off from the beach and chatted. Refreshed we stopped at Southwest Bay nick named the
horseracing beach. Once down on the beach one could see why it was used for the traditional horse racing being wide and totally flat.
We drove on and found ourselves at the other end of Southwest beach where again we walked this time watching the fishermen that were cleaning a huge catch of red snapper on a boat just off the beach.
By this time it was lunchtime and again we pulled off the road and followed a lane down to a beach – Bahia Manzanillo. Here we found a palm tree lined beach with an interesting bar/eatery. It was called Roland’s Place and when we first walked up Roland the owner was lying in his hammock swinging comfortably behind the bar. He saw potential customers and quickly jumped from his hammock and into action.
Here we sat under the palm trees at a table and ate pan-fried fish with yucca and coconut rice, while watching birds eating from a coconut drink that had been left. It was a splendid meal!
Heading off again we continued along the shore stopping to look out at the viewpoints and the scenery. The homes that we saw were mainly quaint wooden traditional homes where one could see the various owners had taken much pride in their property. It was a lovely drive around Providencia.
Another day we set out in the morning and walked back along the shoreline towards Morgan’s Head. As it was morning the walk was far cooler and we passed the Virgin Mary on the hillside and the fort.
Taking the pathway down to Fort Bay and up the other side following the trail all the way to Morgan’s Head. This is a wonderful walk, the scenery being just lovely. All along the way we found mango trees dropping ripe mangoes. John was thrilled to be able to pick up and eat ripe mangoes as he walked. On the return journey we collected a pile of mangoes, which we later picked up, from the beach where we stacked them.
After lunch that day we snorkeled off the reef along Morgan’s channel. The snorkeling was good in areas and then disappointing in other areas. Unfortunately there is much coral bleaching and there looks to be large areas of damaged reef, maybe by boats.
Our friends Colin and Anne had directions to Pablo Escobar’s home on Isla Catalina. (Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a notorious Colombian drug lord whose cartel, at the height of his career, supplied an estimated 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States.) They had walked there and said it was a good walk, so borrowing the directions we set off one morning. The route was written in pencil on a scrap of paper directing us 1st to take the pathway just after the green restaurant on your right. Follow it for 5 minutes to the T-junction, head right continuing for 8 minutes to the Y junction, etc. The pathway starts out as a concrete path then quickly changes to a regular trail through the trees. It was an excellent walk.
The pathways connected and crossed the island, passing along the coast and then tracking uphill along an old stone walkway that was well overgrown to a wreck of what must have once been a splendid house on the hill. The property over looks the bay below and the whole island, but being so overgrown what once must have been excellent views were now glimpses through the trees. I would say it was a 2 story home with evidence of at least 2 bathrooms, an outlook from the roof area and a living/kitchen onto porch space, plus there was a pool. It must have been a lovely secluded, private home. We explored and can now say we visited Pablo Escobale’s home in Providencia.
We collected mangoes on the way back to make mango chutney. The trail had again been one with dozens of mango trees with hundreds of ripe mangos. John was in mango heaven! So now we make mango chutney.
Our last day in Providencia we went with Colin and Anne plus two other couples to climb the peak. Which is 1,000 feet tall.
Our guide Hawkins aka Horseman met us at the dock at 7:00am to head to the trailhead. Hawkins is a naturalist; he eats nothing produced, canned or packaged, only fresh foods, and fish. He used to eat iguana when he was a child, but gave that up. His other name is Horseman as he has the most horses on the island and his horses are some of the racers.
We started at the trailhead with Hawkins telling us about the birds and the various medicinal plants. He continued throughout the walk to point out the lizards, birds and plants and to tell us their uses. Plus he gave us a history of the area/island and background on the island.
Hawkins was a brilliant guide; the way he cut a coconut and opened it with his machete/cutlass was truly masterful. We ate mangoes as well as the coconut along the way.
The trail itself is fairly comfortable walking with a few steep inclines, but as it was shady and we had cloud cover it wasn’t too hot. We wound our way to the top, which as expected had an amazing view across 360-degree view across the island and the seas beyond.
If it had been a sunny day the view would have been stunning, but it was pretty special anyway. Hawkins is at present reestablishing another way to head back, but for now we had to head back the same way. Making the whole trek 14 kilometers long. It was a highly recommendable hike; Hawkins is a brilliant guide and ambassador for Providencia.
Our time was up on Providencia, but we hope to head back to that wonderful island.
Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them. – Marcus Aurelius
We’re the creators of our own experience – remembering this, and living our lives from this perspective, empowers us. – Mike Robbins