Thursday, December 08, 2011

Island Touring San Andres

Our first week in San Andres was a very windy one. We spent the week making sure our boat did not move somewhere it was not supposed to be. Putting your anchor down with lots of chain usually means you are safe and stuck but here it proved to be otherwise. We set a new record in having to re-anchor our boat. Lots of fun!

After a week of high winds we were ready to spend some time ashore. Still windy but no longer blowing 30+ knots. The weather did not stop the tourists from hitting the beach. A little sandblasting is not going to stop serious beach goers.

Including us. Cruising down the Malecon looking for a burger.

Massage anyone?

We found the local veggie market. This is a wonderful place since the local grocery stores have very little "good looking" veggies. San Andres is a coral island and there are no local vegetables grown here. Everything is imported.

We all stock up on our favorite greens, reds, yellows, etc.

After a long hard day of shopping we meet up at Club Nautico. This is a local yacht/tennis club. They let us buy a temporary membership for $25/week. We can tie up our dinghy at their very safe dingy dock, swim in the pool, use the restaurant facilities and take a cold shower....

With calmer weather arriving we decide to go on an island tour. San Andres is not a very big island measuring approximately 2 miles wide and 7 miles long. An easy day trip in a golf cart. We find just the right cart for 7 people and take off on a nice sunny day.

Steve has agreed to be the designated driver and Bob is our tour guide. The rest of us are backseat drivers :)

Our first stop is a local landmark.

Note the old Belfry at the top

Typical of small islands, there are many many churches and religion is part of everyday life.

Inside the Baptist Church local young people decorate for Christmas and also serve as tour guides.

This young man speaks very good English and provides us with a nice history lesson. Like many Caribbean Islands, San Andres was used by pirates as a base to raid passing Spanish treasure ships. Captain Morgan was a regular here. In the early 1600's, English Puritans settled the islands and later planters arrived with slaves from Jamaica. The descendants of the Jamaican slaves still reside here. English is the primary language for this group along with Creole and Spanish. Colombia was awarded the islands by Spain in 1786 but it was not until the 1980's that the Colombians made this their favorite tourist destination. They come here in large numbers but do not speak any English. They do not teach English in schools either. The locals who speak English are very proud of their language skills and we are very happy since our Spanish is not great.

An informal chat with this lovely young woman. It usually goes like this: Where is the laundromat? Where can we get our hair cut? Why are there not more fresh fruits and vegetables? Questions questions questions, we are a demanding bunch.
We are invited to attend Christmas service here on December 18th. There will be lots of singing. We'll be there!

Barbara climbing up to the top of the church for a spectacular view.

Looking north from the Belfry

There are many daily flights in and out of San Andres. They all pass through mainland Colombia.

Looking north east toward the anchorage and the big hotel district.

In the belfry

The next stop on the island tour is the local Botanical Gardens. Breadfruit was a mainstay of the slaves diet. Brought to the Caribbean islands from Tahiti by Captain Cook.....way back when

A real breadfruit, not quite ripe yet. You boil it and it is very starchy, kind of like a potato.

It is quiet and green and serene and in the SHADE!

Just like at home, our favorite, Hibiscus.

View from the top of the observation tower at the Botanical Garden.

San Andres Desert? Tortoise.

From the golf cart, driving down the road, local scene

Motorcycles and scooters are the primary mode of transportation here. Tourists can rent golf carts or scooters.

Island infrastructure

The south side of the island is more rural.

This local restaurant came highly recommended. Unfortunately the kitchen was closed due to a breakdown of some sort? Too bad for us.

But we did get to walk around inside and look at the interesting furniture.

And wood carvings

Bench, not really very comfortable but a great conversation piece.

Outside we spot a very cool lizard
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                  Down the road we arrive at Captain Morgan's Cave. This is a big tourist attraction.
We decide not to enter because there are many buses, taxis and we are thinking it is going to rain soon and it is expensive and we have heard it is not that great.....Eco stairs.

Typical island wall with conch shells on top


This charming young lady was our guide for the local "Island House". We are not sure what her uniform is all about? Maybe to attract customers? You think!
This is a period house from early 1900's. The master bedroom with the usual decorations.

Typical of island houses, the windows do not have glass only shutters, allowing a nice breeze to flow throughout the house. 

Probably a bit too much coverage for this guide but very appropriate back in the day.

The kitchen was usually in a separate building from the main house. This setup is a first for us but makes sense. Good ventilation.

You could also cook inside on this handy two burner stove.

View from the side. Ventilation all around.
Not everyone wanted to tour the island house. Some of our group found the locally built benches much to their liking.

My favorite. Rasta bench!
Continuing around the island we see the local military men out for a march.

This island has a great bus system. You can travel anywhere around the island in a bus for less than a dollar.

Back in town the backseat drivers take over. Take us for ice cream....pleasssssse!
All in all it was a great day. The weather cooperated and we made it safely back to our boats.
It was not our intention to stay in San Andres more than a week or so but we have been here almost a month now. Anne needed some dental work and found a good dentist here. Our friend's daughter is coming from the US for a visit and she has kindly agreed to bring us some much needed boat parts.
Merry Christmas from us to all of you from San Andres Island.

Anne and Steve
S/V Fine Line