“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thinking about visiting Antartica?

You may have seen my photos or heard about my trip, or perhaps you just stumbled upon this page while surfing the internet. Yes, I have been to Antartica and I am not a scientist, famous explorer, biologist, penguinologist, geologist or any other profession most likely to get there. I am a teacher, and yes, I earn a teacher's salary, but it was my dream and so I made it possible.

You can book ahead through any big travel agent, or directly through the specialist companies that run the trips -- Quark is just one.

Or... you can just arrive in the place that most of the boats leave from: Ushuaia, Argentina, and ask around at the travel agencies to pick up a place left on a boat that's leaving in the following few days -- southern hemisphere summer, of course! Ships want to fill their empty berths, so 10 day cruises can go for around US$3500-4000 -- not cheap, of course, but when a balconied super suite can go for up to US$25000 it's a steal in comparison.

And don't ask about the polar bears -- there aren't any!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Seasons Greetings 2012

Seasons Greetings 2012! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and that your new year will be wonderful.

I brought in the new year in Shiraz, Iran, where it was very quiet and subdued, as their new year is in April. While we were in Iran we also went to Persepolis, Bishapur and to Qeshm Island off the coast, which you can read about by clicking on the links! It is such a beautiful, hospitable country. After that, I tried very hard to get an Azeri visa, but was unable to due to the new rules. Instead, I spent the time in Dubai with my parents before returning to Bogota.

I did much more travelling in Colombia this year, going to Villavicencio in Los Llanos (the plains), and the eerie high Andean Chingaza National Park with its unusual tundra-like vegetaion, and in June, off the Caribbean coast where the seven ocean color tones of Isla San Andres and Providencia proved true. During my July holiday, I fulfilled a long-held goal of mine to walk in the Sierra Nevada National Park where I climbed to the Lost City -- an amazing jungle city of the Tayrona people that was ¨lost¨ until 1975 when the grave-robbers´ new stash of gold significantly affected the gold market triggering alarms and then a search. Afterwards, I also spent time in Cartagena, such a gem!
During the Easter holidays, I dived into Peru. Machu Piccu is many a Traveller's dream and I expected to feel underwhelmed, but it lived up to expectations.... an incredible place in a beautiful location. I wanted to do the Inca trail but had hurt my ankle in March, but taking the train and walking all around was plenty! Peru also had many other delights that I had not expected. Lake Titicaca was interesting, but not nearly as good as the Nazca lines, the Huacachina Oasis, or the Colca Canyon gorge. Loved the cities of Arequipa and Cuzco, and Lima had a lot going on, too. I didn't feel like I'd seen hardly any of the country, however: the more I see, the more I discover other things I want to see!

One thing I've wanted to do for years is related to the Darien Gap, which is the one barrier between driving from the top of North America to the bottom of South America, an area so wild there are several rebel groups and paramilitaries that fight over territory. It is near impossible to cross it, but the alternative is to go around it, so I took a yacht from Cartagena da Indias to the San Blas Islands in Panama. It was around 30 hours to cross the strait and then we spent a blissful 5 days in the San Blas islands, before being deposited in Panama City. Was lucky enough for return to Panama with my students for a Model United Nations conference in October, in the middle of the rioting and protests, so several afternoons, including the closing ceremony were cancelled, but we made it to the canal, much to many of my students despair.
I spent the rest of the summer elsewhere in Central America, exploring the ancient Mayan cities of Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Tikal. I love the cenotes (sinkholes), the amazing diving and the gorgeous beaches. One of the highlights was whale encounter #1: whale sharks off of Cancun, where they swim in their hundreds on the surface of the water. The incredible beasts are covered in spots, a fingerprint of uniqueness, and are harmless to humans as they swish past you. Snorkellers are permitted, but touching and diving is not. What an amazing experience! Have wanted to go to Belize for years, and loved diving the Blue Hole and snorkelling to see the sharks and rays even if we didn´t see a manatee, and the caves in the mountain are excellent. Tikal--- an ancient Guatemalan jungle city of awesome proportions! Semac Champey, also in Guatemala, an unusualy rock formation, was followed by a wonderful catch-up with a friend from Burma, Cecile. What a wonderful year it was for Myanmar. It was so special to hear of Barak Obama visiting that place so close to my heart. Anyone who lived there and saw the suffering of the people can only have felt wonder at watching such a historical event take place and hope for the future, despite the short term hardships in transition such as huge inflation, uncertainty, and rapid changes.

For my October break I diverged from the norm and took a solo trip to the island of Gorgona, off the Pacific coast of Colombia. Very isolated and quite difficult to get to, it is a haven for diving and whales. Thus saw whale encounter #2: I swam with humpback whales, a mother and her baby, as they swam south. Up close and in the water with them they are awe-inspiring. The island was a prison at one stage, with some political prisoners held here. Being on Gorgona, I was cut off from civilization for the week in a misty quiet place of reflection: just what I needed. I took on a head of department role in August at my school in Bogota and am finding that my work day is very long and my private time is precious and limited, so the respite was amazing. Incidentally, I have decided to stay another year in Colombia, so will be here until June 2014. Colombia is such an amazing place, under visited, and much much safer than its reputation. There are so many wonders and different places to see and things to do; its very close to North America. Please come and visit before I leave!!

In November I was privileged to visit the Amazon again with my school. In a reversal of typical schools, my school in Colombia has more men than women, so I as one of the only females in upper Bach I was able to go the the Amazon a second time! The Colombian Amazon is small, and in reality we jet across to Peru and into Brazil without ever leaving Colombia officially, but I love the birds, the jungle, the water and was thrilled to see alligators, pink and grey dolphins, spiders, parrots, tucans, monkeys and other amazing things. Returning, my proud moment of the year was two-fold as I became an Aunty to my brother's son Timothy and bought a house in the same week. I have been looking at properties in my hometown, Queenstown for the last couple of years and finally settled on one, but I will be poor for a while!

The delight of my year though has been in anticipation of my Christmas trip: Antarctica! On December 18th a friend and I set sail for a 10-day voyage in the Antarctic peninsula and the islands off its western coast. The voyage of a lifetime: it has been truly fantastic. Asking other passengers on the ship over the heavy dinners, we all agree that seeing the volume of ice in the glaciers and ice caps and in the icebergs that have dotted out path has been a humbling experience. The whales, seals and penguins truly rule down here and our insignificance in nature and the harm humans are so capable of becomes clear - I felt the global warming every day of the trip -- it was practically balmy. I wanted to become a penguinologist and wished I'd studied to be a marine biologist to follow my lovely whales around the world. This, of course, was whale encounter #3. Humpbacks and minke whales breaching, diving under the small zodiac boats,  flashing us their flukes (tails), and spying on us with one eye above the water from the great oceans below. I learned all about krill in ways I would never have imagined... did you know they are a crustacean? Did you know they are the life force of everything in the food chain down there? Watching, hearing and feeling the wave of a glacier or iceberg calving reminds us how small we are.

We started and ended the cruise in Ushuaia, Argentina, which was also a penal colony/prison for many years and the southern-most city in the world. My friend and I will spend the next two weeks circling Argentina, and then back to work again.

For me, this has been the year of the whale: three times, three different places... and perhaps prisons: two times, two places... whales have always been important to me, and this year certainly proves it!

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday and festive season. Best wishes for 2013 and hope all your dreams come to fruition!

xxoo Natalya

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A new use for an old rice machine...

Some new graffiti - Usaquen

I was going for a walk today and there were some street artists at work on the Septima in Usaquen. Toximonaico had recently finished this new one of a lady photographer, and other arts were finishing their work further down the street. I love the Bogota street art!


Sunday, October 14, 2012



We arrived into Gorgona in the afternoon after about an hour's crossing. I looked for a whale the whole way, but didn't see any. We ate before leaving, then ate again when we got there. Dinner was another massive meal so I felt like all I did was eat the first day. It was challenging on my Spanish, too! No one spoke English at all. Wish I'd brought my notebook to review.

During breakfast on the second day, we could see a whale breathing off the coast--was proud of myself for spotting it. As I had to leave to prepare for my dives, I didn't see it jump, but how much of a cool welcome is that? On my way to the dive shop I spotted one of the legendary snakes. The dives were good-- lots of big fish and fish schools. We spotted some dolphins in between the two dives. Colombia has an excellent law that says no swimming with them, but as no one was looking we did try and jump in with them. They're smart, however, and swam away. It rained all afternoon although not as hard as the night before where the roof rattled in the storm.

There are very few places in the world you can go and be completely out of touch, but Gorgona is one of them. Colombia's Pacific side is wild and empty, so of course no cell phone towers, and Gorgona is far enough off the coast to miss most of that anyway. Not enough people are here for a tower of their own. A satellite dish is all that there is but that's not for us. It feels like the holiday I wanted... Total relaxation and peace. I can make peace with myself about whatever I need to, and have absolutely no distractions to do it. Will I do it, though, or will I just while away the afternoons sleeping and reading?

On day three, the sun peeked out from behind the still grey day... The morning was punctuated by seeing a whale before the first dive. Even though it's technically against the park rules, we moved the boat to jump in next to them. Wow! Three white humpback whales! Baby, mama, and a protector. They moved fast so it was hard to see them and stay with them, but definitely the highlight of my trip. The only thing that could have been better would be to come up during a dive and find them there. Two more fantastic dives with lots of fish and life, including a white tip reef shark hiding in a hole. In the afternoon we went for a walk around the old jail, closed in 1984. Amazing how much had grown! I did wonder how notorious the prisoners were, and what it would like to be incarcerated on an island that I had chosen to be holidaying on. Ended the day watching the whales swim off the beach swimming into the sunset. Lovely, but sadly no jumping, which I had missed the day before. I suppose I got to swim with them so I can't complain.

And the rain poured down! What a wet night. I got up to several more rivers, and wet everywhere. Nevertheless, the dives continued. Two other guests joined me, and it was a very wet ride over there (all around the island the long way around). We stopped for our snack on a turtle-hatching beach and had a chat to the researchers there. Saw lots of sharks at Montanita and a sunken statue... The statue even had a shark guarding it! The weather was clearer for the ride back, thank goodness! Went for a walk around the jail, but no more snakes, sadly. Juan made an amazing movie for me... Such a lovely guy.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guapi, Colombia

The flight to Guapi is on a small former LOT plane from a hidden corner of Cali airport. As I checked in, so did 3 boxes of chicks. They chirped the whole flight while I smiled.

Guapi is only accessible by land and sea and we flew in over wild jungle with winding rivers and small canals dotted with only the most remote of homesteads. Its felt like our plane would clip the trees and the jungle encroached on the airport on three sides.

Only 6 women on  a flight of 40. Are the menu all travellers or is this their home? I suppose a lot of army.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Anglo Dances -- Bailamos!

At the Colegio Anglo Colombiano, the month of September in bach (secondary school) is dedicated to Dances. Homework is put on hold, students stay up till 1am rehearsing and fall asleep in class, and it all culminates in a house competition in three parts. The lower bach compete in a National Dance competition, and middle bach compete in an International Dance competition (this year's theme was Latin countries). They bring in professional choreographers and pay a fortune in costumes. Stage decoration was finally banned a few years ago because the cost just got too great!

However, the dance that everyone really wants to see is the Modern Dances. With the moves, lighting, costumes and all aspects coordinated by the senior students, it is a culmination of their school life, and life depends on it. Tantrums, stress, practices, no-show dancers, and everything else to manage, each dance is around 15-20 minutes long, occurs in several parts according to themes. They often have 5 or 6 costume changes in the 15 minutes and it is an impressive show!

Last year, myself and a few other teachers were coaxed into participating in one small part of Rodney's dance. Can't say I liked the costume much, or the pressure to attend every single practice no matter where or what time, so this year I was more than happy to be just a spectator.

I managed to record all of the dances this year and have copied the links to the shows below. Unfortunately, my camera was not intended for extended recording and the battery died before the first dance was even half over, which meant that the recordings were mostly on my phone, which while they gave some cool effects, did not have the highest stability or quality. In order of performance: Beatty, Hood, Rodney, Nelson. Winning order were Beatty, Nelson, Rodney and Hood.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

So you want to sail between Panama and Colombia?

The Dorien Gap is a break in the Pan-American highway that really is as wild and untamed jungle as it gets in South/Central America. You are nuts to expect to traverse it overland. But, there is an alternative: You can sail around it from various ports in Panama (Colon, Portobello, El Porvenir, Carti) via the San Blas Islands to Cartagena (or Carpugana) in Colombia. It only takes around 3 days to cross, but most boats spend 2-3 days island hopping in the idyllic San Blas islands on the way, extending the trip. Depending on the boat, it costs between $350 and $600, most boats being $500. Hostels DO take a cut so if you can arrange with the captains directly, you will pay less.

The first thing: this is a backpacker trip. Expect it to be crowded, don't expect gourmet food, most captains/boats are doing this for cash -- you are not their best friend, it is not a luxury cruise, and many boats take more passengers than they should. Yes, it's a rough crossing, so do bring sea-sickness tablets and do actually take them if you are likely to feel ill. Also, it is BYO so plan wisely for what you'll want to drink for the whole time, including non-alcoholic drinks. Bring snacks -- there is nothing scheduled between meals.

There are lots of yachts out there: do your research on forums online and ask at the hostels. Note: if leaving from Panama, you will not see your ship until you are getting onto it. The San Blas departure area is remote (3-4 hours from Panama City), so you are committed to it in a way you aren't in Cartagena (although most people don't bother to check out the boats in Cartagena, either, though all will dock in the bay where they're visible).

Here are a list of boats that were running the trip in July 2012 with websites when I could find them:

Gypsy Moth -- quite sought after
Independence -- biggest boat doing it, 25+ people on board
Black Dragonfly
Ave Maria
Nani Moaina
Northern Drifter

Or check out this hostel in Panama: http://www.mamallena.com/sailboats.html or this hostel in Cartagena http://www.casaviena.com/sanblasisland.htm although almost any of the main hostels will be able to help you. This website may also be useful. Or this one.

Despite some websites online saying that there is a ferry, this no longer runs. From what I understand it ran for about a month in early 2012, but stopped soon after due to lack of demand.

The shorter alternative to the Cartagena route is the shorter Carpugana/Sapzurro/Puerto Obaldia trip, but be warned: there are no ATMS on either side, so bring enough cash to get yourself out if no boats are going -- it is not uncommon to get trapped there! This also does not really avoid the open water crossing, as you will likely still have to go across the Gulf of Darien by ferry in Colombia (unless you fly to/from Medellin). One regular company that runs this trip is the Darien Gapster. These shorter trips are usually around $300-$350.

Yes, motorbikes and bicycles can be transferred on the bigger boats. Expect to pay a full person's fare for the bike. It will have to be transferred to the boat by crane and go on the small river boats to get to/from land in San Blas -- most boats do not dock at either end, transfers are by speedboat/zodiac.

Yes, Fritz the Cat sank in June 2012. They are rough open seas and sailing is not without risk. Make sure you feel confident with your captain and discuss their experience.

Do bring a waterproof camera or a dry bag if you can get hold of one -- the San Blas islands are idyllic, but you have to swim to get to them.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Treking to the Lost City

Deep in the jungle in the Sierra Nevada behind Santa Marta in Colombia lies the Lost City, a pre-Colombian Tayrona settlement rivalling Machu Picchu in its inaccesible, yet spectacular location. There are various companies (Turcol, Guiyas, Magic Trek, etc) that run different types of trips, but most are around 5 days. Here's how mine went:

Day 1
Elevation: 100m at village Machete Pelao to 400m
Walking time: 3 1/2 hours
Adan Camp
I started the day with a 2 hour drive from Santa Marta to the little village of Machete Pelao. We stopped on the way so that the jeep could be used to help a friend move some wood. After turning off the main road we wound up a dirt track in the land rover. I waited a while for the rest of my group to arrive and watched a finishing group celebrate. 3 hours for one pair, then 4 hours, 5 hours, etc. Lunch was a delish sandwich. We walked 3 1/2 hours with a swim in the gorgeous river after half an hour then 1 hour straight up! Had a watermelon snack at the top with the ducks eating the scraps and seeds before walking along the ridge and back down again to the camp on the river in a gully. We slept in hammocks and had quite a lot of time to chat and get to know one another. Pistachios! There was another swimming hole and showers were possible. It rained hard at night and I was glad it wasn't during the day.

The group was really international: Miguel, Jenny and Wilson were the guides, and we had English, Czech, Colombians, Swiss (French and German), Spanish, Dutch, Belgians and me, the token kiwi.

Day 2.
Elevation: 400m to 700m
Walking time: 3-4 hours approx 2+ swim + 1
Camp 2
We started the day going up a small rise, then around a ridge past another camp and a few villages, then more upwards hiking, but not too bad. A delicious orange at the top-- its amazing how good fruit tastes when you're hot and thirsty! Along another mountain top then down around the ridge, across a creek then we stopped for a welcome swim. Big relief! A leisurely sit in the sun to dry off, then a pineapple snack before resuming walking. 1 hour more up a valley to the second camp (beds!). It had a lovely grass area (likely used as a helipad), and a convenient swimming spot. The further up we went, the cooler the pools and rivers got. Many rains upstream made the river quite full so only those who swam early got a dip. Our soup lunch was perfect for our appetite, then most of us were content to snooze all afternoon, especially when it rained. Camp 2 had no electricity so our 7pm dinner and chat about local tribal traditions was by candelight.

Some interesting tribal traditions:
-A man marries an older woman with children and later chooses one of her daughters as 2nd wife (in theory it avoids conflict)
-A chief is usually born during a full moon and lives in a special house alone for 5 years as a rite of passage with no meat, salt, oil, etc
-Shamans make a coca leaves and shell mix as a drug for men which creates wild visions (likely toxic!)
-Marriages can end (separation) if it's not working
-Marriages are arranged by tribal elders after a girl's first menstruation and these husbands are much older than their wives
-They bury people under their houses, so the houses (like those in the Lost City) are sacred
-There are only 3 tribes in the Sierra Nevada, and they are all descendants of the lost Tayrona civilization. The Lost City is sacred to them. Tribes: Arsarios, Cogis, Arquaco
-The Cuidad Perdida was first built by a Tayrona tribe around 6 BC.

Day 3
Elevation: 700m to lunch to 1200m in lost city.
Walking time: 4 hours to Base camp. 1 hour up to lost city
Camp: in lost city

We were up at 5.30 am to leave at 6 and started with and upward section, across a new suspension bridge (3 months old) then around a saddle. My favorite day of walking: 4 hours beautiful walk through fields and lovely forest, fording a river and bypassing the trail by going up the river. I sprained ankle very badly just before lunch camp. I had a swim in the river to bring down the swelling then Wilson taped it up and I hobbled up the steps 1 hour to the lost city itself, arriving around 3 pm. Many people were in the lunch camp ready to head down, but really this was the only contact with people not from our group in the whole 5 days. The stairs were incredibly intact after so many centuries, and there were lots of them (1200?). There was another river crossing (3 all day) before the stairs. I needed walking sticks to get across!

The lost city itself had many circular areas of housing areas then more stairs. A main road of the city goes up along ridge, 3 stones wide. There was a Colombian Army camp in lost city and it was astounding to see people watch the Euro Football Cup finals at the top in the barracks! I enjoyed a snooze at 4 pm to help my ankle get a rest, then enjoyed some nuts and beer - the army's way of making some extra funds. Dinner was finished by 7pm so we moved on to rum, chatting, and a special local ankle treatment made from boiling dead/brown banana leaves up and getting a massage. The camp included a big frog and a friendly spoiled cat.

Day 4
Elevation: 1200m to 700m
Walking time: 3 on site, 1 hour down, 4 hours out. Long day!
Camp: back to camp 2
I started the day with a scorpion sting! I grabbed my towel from the hook and he was hiding beside. If I am afraid of any creepy crawly, this would be it, only second to snakes. I woke the whole house up in my panic, and wondered if I would die. Our dear guides turned the room upside down to find him, then lopped off his head, slit its stomach open and rubbed the guts over my sore finger. The contents of its stomach negate the poison making only my hand hurt instead of my arm (and no taste on my tongue, either). Disaster averted. Miguel said if it'd been a black one, we might have been in a bit more trouble.
We then had a 3-hour guided walk around site learning about how the huts were built, how the rocks were cracked using heat, the grave robbers history, etc. such an amazing place. Each circle, of which there were many, covered a family burial plot. 1 meter below was a small treasure, then a layer of coal, then another meter or so, and pots filled with more burial artifacts and a bigger treasure. Each dead person's soul was inside a statue of gold, explaing the drive of the grave robbers. Our guide, Wilson, who has been guiding people to the lost city for 20 years or so, explained that each circle with a tree was one the grave robbers had not gotten to, and was currently unexcavated. There was some government excavation in the 80s, but the traditional people were upset at what they saw as the souls being removed from their resting place and put in prisons (museums). They protested the excavations so all were stopped. Future excavations are still under negotiation. The Tayrona descendants would like to bury the gold unearthed in a secret location but whether they would allow archaeologists to document it first is just one of the issues being discussed. Several other old Tayrona sites exist but are closed to visitors, including one high above the snow line built after the Tayrona were beginning to fear Spanish encroachment.

We then had 1 hour down the steps, a quick stop for lunch, no time for a swim. It was 3 1/2 hours along the ridge and down, across the swinging bridge and along river past a camp to the friendly spacious camp of 2 nights before. Rain started so it was very muddy and slippery, so slow going. Definitely not a good hiking day.

Day 5
Elevation: 700m to 100m
Walking time: 4-6 hours all the way out
Camp: None

Up at 5am for one of the longest days: Two major uphills to get all the way out. It wasn't as tough going as I thought it would be. We stopped briefly for a swim and a break half way through, but lunch was not till the end. I think I made it in 5 hours? Not bad for stopping to film an ant march and for having a sprained ankle. Such a feeling of accomplishment, and a beautiful journey to an amazing historical place. No comparing or judging, just enjoyment.

Posted via DraftCraft app

Monday, July 09, 2012

Testing Blog Ap

Since I'm on the road with only my phone and Ipad, so I'm posting using only those and have found quite a few hiccups in terms of uploading photos and HTML formatting. Blogger only has an ap for the iphone so quite a few limitations with it, sadly. I am posting this post with another ap, and then I'll go to the paid aps. Let's try a photo:
I like the resize ability and I can move it side to side, but whether or not I can add a label to it or to wrap text around it I can't see. Since it isn't connecting to blogger yet, it also can't access photos from the other blog. Bummer. Ok. Time to post. Let's see how it looks. (This was posted with DraftCraft Free, which it turns out, only gives you 10 free posts-boo!)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Amazing leaves!

Look at these amazing leaves... Nature is so beautiful.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

10000 page views!

This week I made it to 10,000 page views from across the world -- that really is quite amazing!! Thank you for all being interested enough to read my ramblings!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My other blogs

Please check out my new blog -- a much less haphazard project with deadlines!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

San Andres & Providencia Islands

Home of the Pirate Morgan and his cave of looted riches, settled by Puritans, Dutch, Spaniards, claimed by both Nicaragua and Colombia, this Caribbean paradise is Colombia's package tourist destination. Providencia, 90km north, is the better kept secret. Stupendous diving, a volcanic island of beautiful vistas and traditional Caribbean culture.

As I sit in La Rigatta cafe over the water next to the Nautico Club in 'North End' (the main town on San Andres Island) sipping on my 'Rosa de Verano' (rose wine and red vermouth!) snacking on my delicious camarones followed by fish in herbed orange sauce, I am contemplating the life of living on a yacht in the Caribbean.

The rain is coming in so the waitresses rush to pull up the glass windows against the wind-driven rain. Big black sea birds with forked tails dive into the harbor and catch dinner. The metal wrecks of abandoned ships are scattered amongst sails, catamarans, day jet boats and fishing trawlers. Two boys fish and swim off the rocks underneath my table. The waitresses are attentive, pretty and content. My name is inscribed on the tourist boat across the way, and gosh, this fish is delicious! Two phenomenal kitesurfers rip across the harbor, weaving through the boats. Noisy Colombian families settle behind me, the couple over the side has ordered lobster, as the wind whips my hair into tangles.

There is something romantic about Caribbean pirate strongholds. There is something even more romantic about setting sail and going on island to island under palm trees, swimming in deep blue water (or, as is famous in San Andres, in the sea of seven colors).

The most delicious rasin-filled coconut rice I've tasted. 
One of the kite surfers just jumped 5 meters into the air! Wow!

There are only two ways to get to Providencia: a small puddle-jumper plane, or ferry. The ferry goes Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays in the morning (a rougher journey as the seas are high in the mornings!). It returns same day in the afternoon around 3.30 and takes 2 and a half hours.

Providencia is a beautiful throwback of Caribbean culture. Only 5000 people live on the island and almost everything is locally run. English is still the main language spoken (and no one could really give me a definitive answer as to why it stopped being English in 1925 either). The food is delicious, the music is unique and the lifestyle is laid-back and pleasant.

Santa Catalina Island sits at the top of Providencia and is even more inaccessable: only possible by foot bridge or boat. This was the site of the pirate's fort, and has a beautiful walk around the island to Morgan's Head facing the open ocean.