It feels like we have almost taken root anchored off of Providencia. Locals wave to us as they pass, even some we have never spoken to acknowledge us in the town as they zoom past on their mopeds. We greet passers by with a shortened ‘buenos’ as the locals do, although the English speakers greet us with good evening as early as 3pm! Most people are friendly and helpful, one lady buying something in a shop that we popped in to ask where we could buy some charcoal offered us the use of her gas barbecue! We did manage to find some in the quaint ‘Country Store’ when the owner of the store overheard us asking someone else in the supermarket! We followed him to his store and as he was getting us the charcoal from out the back, the same lady came in and told us she had been looking for us all over town as she found out the Country Store had it.
The town has a great street vendor selling local food such as chicken patties and very unhealthy looking deep-fried potato balls with either chicken or beef and god knows what else. They are delicious and at about 60p each they make a great snack.
As we sit on the dock to eat them we do attract several local “friends”, thank goodness for dog biscuits (and of course cuddles).
We managed to easily extend our visitors permits at the local ‘Migracion Colombia’ office, on the road to Freshwater Bay, where a very friendly and helpful English speaking officer dealt with our paperwork, taking digital photos and fingerprints before stamping us in for a further 90 days. The painless process cost 87,000 peso each which is about £22. This takes the pressure off so we can leave either when our maintenance jobs, mainly painting and varnishing, are complete or sooner if a tropical storm heads our way.
Last Saturday we hired a moped (50,000 pesos for the day – a bargain at just £13 including fuel) along with Helge and Asha our German neighbours, and ventured south to the Peak which is the highest point on the island at 1,200 feet above sea level. The Peak was declared a Regional Park in 2007, covering 26 acres, and is the starting point for six large streams and gullies: Bowden, Lazy Hill, Freshwater, Smooth Water Bay, Gammadith Gully and Bailey. These bodies of water make up the islands main freshwater source, although according to people we have spoken to this has greatly diminished over the last few years and the island is now in need of a desalination plant. The track to the Peak crosses through beautiful woodland with wild orchids growing in many trees, alongside paddocks with the occasional herd of grazing cattle and across rocky streams where the croak of invisible frogs echoes across huge boulders. Tree roots wind their way up some of the steeper parts giving a natural climbing frame under foot.
The Colombian Government are improving the track for visitors and we passed a few workers some way along the track cementing in posts at some of the trickier parts. Their materials brought up by horses steered by young boys rather too eager with the whip.
And of course this is lizard country.
There are a few informative signs in both Spanish and English along the track explaining the local flora and fauna, this one even gives cooking instructions at the end 🙂
After an hour and a half (mainly because I felt I didn’t quite have enough photos of lizards) and feeling rather hot and sweaty we reached the top, and boy what a view.
It was a great morning, and I would highly recommend it to anyone lucky enough to visit this beautiful island. Unfortunately the day didn’t end on such a happy note when we stopped in at Manzanillo beach on our way back around the south of the island. As we came into the parking area I spotted 5 very small puppies huddled in a group behind an unused building at the back of the beach so we went over to investigate. They could only have been a couple of weeks old and the local coconut vendor on the beach confirmed that they had been dumped.
I crumbled up some bonios (always keep a dog biccy in my bag!), difficult to get the pieces small enough for them to eat, and gave them the last of my water in the bottle top. They all had cuts and sores and were covered in flies, so sad. The guy also told us that he had been giving them coconut water and he had also asked his cousin to bring some food, but they were certainly hungry so after he climbed a tree and knocked several coconuts down I bought two from him and he opened them up to form a dish They drank the water in a puppy frenzy, paws, heads and sand in the coconut water, some tugging at the flesh around the edges whilst others drank. They all had fat tums afterwards, sadly not a lot more we could do for them. As we left one of the stronger ones ran after us, we watched for a while as there were vehicles coming in and out rather close to him so I eventually went and put him back in the group for safety. Luckily a young girl had just come over to take a look and so they all stayed around her as we reluctantly made our escape. Fingers crossed a kind resident took pity on them.