Monday, March 31, 2008

Isla de Providencia

Dinghy dock (left) and downtown

Rains says that “providencia” means heaven. But Rains was wrong about the position of the sea buoy here, so the translation may not be correct either. Whatever it means exactly, this friendly, clean, crime-free island is one of our favorite places so far.

We called “Bush Agency” on Channel 16 when we were in VHF range about 45 minutes from the sea buoy, as instructed by Rains. This was correct, and we were promptly answered by someone speaking very fast and accented English. After a couple of repetitions, we got the message that we should meet at the dinghy dock at 5:00 p.m. We were surprised since it was Sunday, and we figured that we would spend the night anchored under our quarantine flag, but that gave us just enough time to get the dinghy in the water and take quick showers before heading to shore. As “Mr. Bush” told us when we met, the Columbian government was very clear when he got his agency that customer service was to be a priority, and he takes his responsibility very seriously. He had the woman from immigration open her office above the dinghy dock for us, and the port captain met us at Mr. Bush’s office. Our paperwork was finished by 5:30, and we stopped at the ATM and then had dinner across the street before heading back to the boat.

Mr. Bush says there are no pickpockets here and we don’t have to worry about crime. Indeed, we not only didn’t lock the dinghy at the dock, we forgot and left the key in it until we sat down in the café to have a beer. When I went to retrieve it, I noticed that the other dinghy there wasn’t locked either. We did lock the dinghy to the boat last night (no sense asking for trouble), but we left it in the water.

There are 10 boats in the anchorage, counting us, and as soon as we dropped anchor, our Canadian neighbor from Noa, Jean Pierre, stopped by to point out the dinghy dock and tell us that there was free wireless there. He was on his way to shore to check his e-mail. I don’t think we’ve ever been as warmly welcomed anywhere. In our experience the appearance of a dinghy at our boat right after we anchor usually means that we’re in the wrong place or have done something else wrong. This was a very pleasant surprise.

It seems to rain here every day for a few minutes at a time. I rigged the hatch umbrellas for the salon and companionway, and only need to remember to close the hatch in the v-berth during a shower or when we leave the boat. The trade winds keep the air moving through the boat when the hatches are open, and it’s pretty comfortable.

We were going to stay here three days, but already we’re planning on five. The weather looks good for a passage then, and that would put us at Grand Cayman on Monday instead of Saturday. We don’t expect that we’ll get the same customer service there. Meanwhile, there’s snorkeling here, and we can rent mopeds to explore the island.

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