The Peak

Rising from the center of Isla de Providencia, the highest point is known simply as The Peak. With an elevation of roughly 1,190 feet (I’ve converted from roughly 363 meters), The Peak presented quite a climb for us having been previously in the Bahamas where our hikes brought us to astonishing heights near 100 feet. In addition, it was HOT! The heat of course was no surprise because once again we gringos were hiking mid-day when normal people were siesta-ing. We were accompanied by our friends David & Victoria (s/v Eva Marie) as we hopped a bus to begin our venture to the peak.

Mopeds are the primary mode of transportation on Providencia. It seems everyone has a moped, some serve as taxis, and for $25/day tourists can “Rent a Moto.” There are cars and trucks and vans, many of which serve as taxis; also available for rent are 4×4 vehicles called Mules (imagine my dismay to learn that the mules were in fact vehicles and not furry, four-legged animals). The circumference of the island, however, is only 8 miles and so Brian and I had been determined to not rent any sort of vehicle. We do, after all, have capable legs and we are accustomed to walking everywhere. But we wanted to save our leg power for the hike up The Peak, and so we discovered the bus. For $2.50 total for both of us we could ride the bus around the entire island; the bus being a blue van. I’d learned from the woman at the Information booth that the busses run from morning until 6:00pm, with an afternoon break. The Information woman confirmed we could pick up a return bus at one of the many Bus Stops around the island or flag one down along the road. So we got on a bus at Santa Isabel and told the driver we wanted to go to The Peak. Our plan; hike The Peak and catch a bus back. The bus was comfortable, not cramming in too many people, and the driver and passengers were helpful at getting us to the start of the trail. We were dropped at Bottom House, a small village on the southeast side of the island, and directed toward The Peak. Once again we were told we needed a guide, but this time we knew there was actually a trail. Even as we began our hike, a man on a moped stopped alongside us and asked if we needed a guide. I’m sure he wanted to make a few extra bucks that day; but I told him, “If we get scared, we’ll come back.” The man smiled, chuckled, and said, “OK,” as he turned to drive away.

We followed the side street to the very end, turned left toward two houses as we’d been directed, and spotted a trail. It took a bit of meandering on cow paths into and out of several pastures for us to realize that we’d started a trail too early. This was not The Peak trail. We found our way back to the two houses at the end of the lane and walked between them where we located the actual trail. Guide!? Humph! Who needs a guide!?

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Cows on the island seem to be the only animals that are restricted to pastures.

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Other animals; horses, dogs, cats, and chickens were all roaming free. We did on one occasion discover two pigs snoozing in a pig-pen. So maybe just the edible animals are pastured or penned.

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The Peak trail was well maintained and provided informative signs to teach us about the flora and fauna on Providencia.

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It wasn’t until near the top of the trail that Dave discovered the informative signs were also written in English, on the back! At least we got some practice translating. Guide!? Humph! Who needs a guide!? This sign describes the Green Iguana. We’d spotted several iguanas on the island. The locals, particularly teen boys, kill the iguanas. Not only for sport, they do eat the meat and eggs. The elder locals are trying to put a stop to this behavior because of the negative impact on the iguana population.

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Blue Iguanas seem to be abundant; and they are BLUE!

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It was evident that we were visiting Providencia during the island’s dry season.

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The scenery did change as we hiked into the mountains along a stream bed; becoming more green, with more dense trees and grasses. Here we found a Nursery: I am one of the key pieces in the designing of strategies for forest recovery. I multiply plant species who are threatened or have particular interest to an area that will enriched and increase forest quality and density for conservation.

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Almost to the top!

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Just a little farther…

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King (and Queen) of the hill!

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Our view from the summit was a bit hazy that day, good though. The first shot is a nice view of Santa Catalina and the anchorage.

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We hiked down much more quickly, anxious to return to Santa Isabel for COLD beer. We waited at the Bus Stop at Bottom House for nearly half an hour. We chatted with some locals and rested our legs. Then, we opted to walk toward town knowing that we could flag down a bus or stop at another Bus Stop if we wanted to rest. We walked, and walked, and walked…no busses came! For nearly 2 hours and 4.5 miles we walked and did not spot a single bus until we were just about to town. Then, two busses drove by in the opposite direction, one right after the other! Good thing Providencia is a small island. We certainly saw the sights that afternoon and were never happier to sit down to a cold beer and order a very large pizza!

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