Dear Friends and Family,
I hope you will enjoy another Flat Stanley log as it relates pretty well our experiences since we have been here. It is really one of the safest and most friendly islands in the western Caribbean and though we have left much undiscovered, we feel that we have gotten a little idea of this place.
We are finding that we are eager to move along and so we are going out in 10 to 15 knots of wind and hope we can sail fast enough to get to Bocas del Toro before night fall the end of the second day of cruising. With lower winds, we don’t anticipate making the fast speeds of the last passage but the waves will be more comfortable so all is well.
Once we get there, we will get the lay of the land and then see what reservations we can find to return home. We are almost finished with the journey for this season. As always, it is bitter sweet!
Now, enjoy Flat Stanley!
Sue and Rob
May 1, 2012
Flat Stanley Reporting
Today is May 1 and as I write this, the island of Providencia, where we are anchored, is enjoying a holiday. Many countries celebrate this as a labor day.
I want to go back a little in time to when I last wrote to you. We were getting ready to leave Honduras and sail for what we thought would be three days without stopping. We were all a little nervous to do a long passage and this was really the first long one I would be on. Rob was very good in making me feel better though. He showed me how to steer the boat and taught me how to read the instruments. It was fun to see the little boat on the GPS moving along the course he set for us. I was also able to see the radar at night and we could see ships that might be coming toward us. There was actually only one ship we saw though.
The winds were coming from a direction that made sailing really good. The waves could be pretty high and the boat bounced around quite a bit but Rob and Sue were OK because Catalyst is a very safe and seaworthy boat. It just made moving around more difficult. We made much faster time than we had anticipated and instead of 3 days it took only 2 days and 4 hours. We were able to arrive at the island of Providencia before sunset. Even the seas had calmed the last day so we were feeling pretty good!
There is a place that a lot of the boaters go to visit before dinner or to have dinner. It is called the Bamboo Bar and is owned by a local couple. The second night we were there, they made a big kettle of crab soup. I was there in the afternoon and saw them preparing the crabs.
These crabs live on the land although the babies are born in the sea before returning to land. It is the time of year when they come walking out to the ocean and so they are easy to catch. The crab has two parts inside that they use for the soup.
One part is a brown slimy thing they call the grease. I think it is fat. It is used to flavor the soup and give it some thickness. The rest of the body and the legs are cooked in the soup with a Caribbean style yam, which is a white root vegetable, plantains, which are like a hard green banana and potatoes and some little dumplings shaped like long thin rolls. The big pot was cooked over an open fire and the soup was really tasty, or at least Sue thought so. I got to see how it was all done. Last night we were there again and while we didn’t have dinner, they brought in the catch of the day including lobster and fish. They eat a lot of sea food on this island!
On Sunday we went to the Catholic church in town. They said it would be an English mass but only the readings were in English, The sermon and other things were in Spanish. Spanish is the national language, but like in the Bay Islands, many of the people have English as their first language so it is easy to find someone to speak with you here in English. They were very nice at the church. The priest let me have my picture taken with him. He had seen us from the alter and after Mass, asked where we were from and then they all clapped for us as a welcome. People afterward were very nice to us. A nun, who was on the island visiting relatives greeted us and suggested we come the next day to where she was staying.
This is a small island with a total population of less than 6,000 people. There is really only one main road that circles the island and it is only about 12 miles around. I went with Rob and Sue and another boating couple, Teresa and Curtis, and we rented a golf cart to drive around and explore. They have cars and vans here but most people have motor scooters or golf carts with a hauling bed in the back like a pickup truck.
It doesn’t take long to drive around the island so we did it once without stopping much and then drove the reverse direction and made all the stops we wanted to do. This island has some wonderful places where they have used art in public places. They have cement statues in a lot of places and things with tile mosaic. Do you know what mosaic is? Some things were just by the road and some were on walk ways that are beautifully done. There were some really interesting bus stop shelters. One was an octopus and one a manta ray. We really like the manta ray one because our boat is a Manta brand of catamaran.
This was a turtle bench at the end of a walk way on the way to the beach.
There was even a house made out of conch shells rather than bricks.
We stopped at a beach restaurant that had been recommended to us. It is called Divino Nino. That means the Divine Child. They have a statue there at the restaurant. It is located on the beach and there are hammocks you can enjoy while you wait for the place to open or for your food to be prepared. You can see Sue took a picture of herself and Rob enjoying the hammocks. We also sat on the beach and watched people enjoy the water and two horsemen racing along the hard packed sand.
The restaurant is famous for their mixed sea food platter which three of us got. Rob got meat because he is not so fond of fish. On the seafood platter, there was a whole fish, half of a lobster, crab meat, octopus, rice, fried plantains and a salad. It was a lot of food but very delicious!
On the way home we stopped at the place the nun told us about and had a tropical drink made with fresh ground coconut that probably just came off the tree.
We have found that the people here are very friendly and it is a very safe and enjoyable place to be.
Even though we really like it here, Rob and Sue are starting to be eager to go back to the United States to see family and friends so tomorrow (Wednesday) we will leave this wonderful place and sail for 2 more days straight through and end up in Bocas del Toro in the country of Panama. This is where they will leave the boat until they return next fall.
I will be sure to tell you about this place in Panama before I end my reports.