I know I say this about every place we go, but I really mean it this time. Providencia is the best spot we’ve been to so far. One of the locals we’ve met describes it as the place you stop right before you go to heaven. He also told us that the only real problem they have here are scooter accidents. That’s it. No crime, nothing. Just scooter wrecks, which are absolutely awful, but imagine living in a place where the only real social ill was people on motorbikes.
One woman - who owns this little restaurant in Santa Isabel, the main town - asked us where we were from, and I replied, “The United States.” And she said in this melodic Caribbean accent, “Ooooh, stress.” But c’mon, anywhere would be stressful compared to this place, where mangos litter the ground (there are too many to eat) and schools of spotted rays do laps with swimmers in the shallow bay and little kids play in secluded ocean coves in the afternoon, diving for Henry Morgan’s pirate treasure and eating fresh coconut.
Providencia is a 4-mile-long island about 150 miles from Nicaragua. The island is a petit mixture of jungle, mountains, beaches and reefs, pretty much everything you could ask for in a tropical paradise. It has around 5,000 inhabitants and is officially a part of Colombia, though geographically and culturally the two places are incredibly different.
The language spoken here is this fascinating mixture of Creole English, English and Spanish. Most people seem to speak all three seamlessly and can switch among them almost mid-sentence. My favorite is the Creole, though Vlad and I are totally lost in both amazement and understanding when we hear people speak it. Their word for “octopus” is “sea cat.” How cool is that?!
As for the climate, I had always assumed that the closer you got to the equator the higher the temperature climbed, but that does not appear to be the case. Actually, the farther away from Texas we’ve traveled the nicer the climate has become. And then we came to Providencia. It’s a pleasant 85 degrees with a nice, cool wind blowing through the boat. We don’t even turn the fans on anymore!! And it’s not humid. All of our clothes dry. We hardly even sweat. On top of that, there are no mosquitos and no no-see-ums. All my weird bug bites are starting to heal. Vlad’s heat rash is beginning to dissipate. This is truly paradise.
Surprisingly, tourism isn’t overdone here, so we aren’t constantly hounded by people trying to sell us snorkeling trips or shells with our names engraved on them. And what that means is that we’ve actually met people. Genuine people, who live on this island. In fact, we’ve been invited to crash a wedding and to attend the children’s swimming competition this evening. On an island with a population not much larger that my hometown of Yellville, Arkansas, we are double booked.
About the only bad thing I can say about Providencia is that there’s too much fish stew. Actually, I’m pleased with this development, but Vlad’s not happy about the stew situation, fish hater that he is. And we ran into some vicious arboreal ants that attacked us without mercy - proof that even in heaven something bites.