The Stresses of Caribbean life

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
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Trip End Jan 19, 2007


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

21st
From Leon we got a taxi to the bus station and then a direct minibus to Managua (La UCA) and then another taxi to the airport for our holidays.  Its a nice big new airport and all the motorway is pretty good and very US looking again. 

We had booked with La Costena and paid for our flight before they weighed everything including us.  This always makes me nervous as I am not the most confident flyer ever.  In the international terminal there were English magazines so we read up on the latest gossip etc before buying each other a Christmas present of a magazine each (oh the excitement!)

The domestic terminal is tiny and all flights seem to leave at the same time to add to the confusion.  Our plane wasnt too small about a 20 seater and we left Managua for Bluefields on the east coast before then going to Big Corn.  These small islands were used by pirates
and for trading and have an affinity with Europe and the UK in particular.

The view from the plane was spectacular wonderful fields that looked like they had been sculpted to look beautiful from the air. The ocean turned a dark blue to turquoise and looked crystal clear.  We were excited.

On Big Corn we got our bags and a taxi to the port for the 16.30 panga (speed boat) to Little Corn.  At the port the kids were tumbling into the ocean and chatting away in Creole or heavily accented English.  The people look and sound very caribbean, very different
to S Nicaragua.


The boat ride was pretty calm considering our expectations and about 30 mins later we arrived on Little Corn.  The beach was large and palm fringed with several hotels and looked bigger than we were anticipating.  There are no cars on the island just lots of wheel
barrows to transport supplies and push bikes.  The funniest thing to see were speed bumps in some of the concrete paths by the village. 

We were told that we wouldnīt make the place we had reserved before night fall so was better to stay nearer by for tonight.  So we walk directly across the island to stay at Graces in a small wooden hut by the sea for $10 a night.  We have a swim in the dark before
lobster for dinner for about 4 quid each - delicious.

Have a mossie net over our bed but despite this the mossies have found their way through the several holes to attack us throughout the night.  Spend several hours playing hunt and kill the
mossies.  Sadly there were still some left at the end of the night.  Vow to move places in the morning which is a shame.

22nd
Walk back to main village and find out about diving from Dolphin Dive who are really nice.  Can start later this morning so then find a hotel - Lobster Inn is nearby and is a bit pricier at $20 a night but has a fan and is near to diving so go for it. 

We go for 12 dives throughout our trip and the visibility is fantastic and the diving is very good.  We were a bit apprehensive before coming here as our most recent diving expeditions have been in Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef which are hard to top.  We were not
disappointed and saw lots of fish, several nurse sharks, couple of turtles, lobster, several rays and lots of beautiful types of coral all in very good condition.  Between dives (if we did 2 in a day) Kim, the boat driver, took us to his house and beach where we chilled for a bit and he chopped down some coconuts for us to drink from and then he cut them open for us to eat.  His use of the machete was incredible with 3 swipes he chopped the coconut in half and created a spatula type thing to scoop the flesh out.  We were impressed.


Had a great meal at the Cuban restaurant near the village which had been recommended and hence only had some locally procurred coconut bread (the size and density of a brick, but fortunately not the taste) with some cheese (locally made) and wine (brought from the mainland).

23rd
More diving and fishes inc barracuda, box fish, trumpet fish followedby chilling on the beach.  Later had lobster AGAIN for dinner.  God its tough.

Power is only on for about 10 hours here and there are several power cuts.  Plus running water is intermittent and non existent in our room so we try to negotiate a discount on our room, to no avail.  We are not best pleased.

24th
We go for a walk up to the north of the island where we were sposed to be staying originally but fear it is a long way to walk back for diving plus have heard it is pretty decrepit. 

We are also trying to find somewhere for Christmas lunch tomorrow.  Try several places, Dereks, looks lovely but food only for residents, Farm Peace and Love (no food tomorrow) and Casa Sunrise where we were sposed to stay but even the person there reckons we would
be better off staying elsewhere.  Then go to Ensuenos a few cabin type places Gaudiesque inspiration and by a beautiful quiet beach which is all very clean. The bathroom is outside down through an alley of trees and the toilet is outside in one area (with no door) and the
shower around the corner surrounded by stones and glass as a screen. It is very different and interesting plus Ramon and Marina who own and manage this are lovely.  They are also doing a special lunch tomorrow so we decide to move up here.

Trundle back to the village about 30 min walk away through the centre of the island and the baseball pitch (are crazy about it here) and past the lighthouse which has apparently never operated as the various bits were all stolen five years ago.  We pack our bags up and move them to the dive shop who have kindly agreed to transport them around to Ensuenos with us after our dive tonight.

Have what may be our last lobster lunch and start chatting to a local guy who seems a bit worse for wear.  He tells us he is a cocaine dealer and offers some to us, Dave mishears him when he asks us what type do we want?  Fortunately he manages to correct himself before
we find ourselves in the middle of some drug deal.  The guy buys us  a beer which I am not very comfortable about but spose its a free beer and then he leaves us to it.

Go to the Cuban Restaurant for a great cocktail with rum and lemon grass - a special treat from friends back home, Liz, Nats and Rachel.  Thanks again guys.

Then sober up before our 1700 night dive.  We speed out to turtle rock in the twilight and then go diving once its dark.  I am usually very nervous about night dives as you can literally just see where the torch illuminates (which is not a lot) but we have great torches and the visibility is great.  We see loads including a turtle, loads of lobsters, an octopus, several rays, a big toadfish that makes funny noises underwater.  As we ascend to the surface we get out to a fantastically illuminated sky with millions and millions of stars.  An incredibly clear night and a magical Christmas Eve!

We get dropped off at Ensuenos and fumble around in the dark (no power at all here) to find our cabin and shower before we head up to the house for dinner around the family table with Larissa (Finnish friend of Marina) and Paul (from UK born in Newcastle and went to school
opposite an old student house of mine).  Food is delicious and after dinner we head out near the beach with Ramon for crab hunting. 

This is for our special meal tomorrow and we go out armed with a canvas sack, gard en fork and camera to hunt for bluecrabs.  There are several very big ones and Ramon is excellent at getting them while Dave tries to get them to go into the bottom of the sack by shaking it and I just stand and take photos!   Get about 6 in about 20 mins and take them back to the house ready for tomorrow.


25th

We sleep very well in our bunk type bed in our huge cabin and lie out on the grass by the beach having cornflakes and milk for breakfast.  We then start to open our presents that Daveīs dad had brought over for us and his mum had sourced and wrapped we have been carrying around for a couple of months.  To say that we were apprehensive about their contents is an understatement.  We imagined the usual type of  "useful" stocking fillers we get at home, but much as it pains me to say it, we were pleasantly surprised by the contents.  Chocolates, socks, marmite, toothbrushes, toiletries and a couple of dubious items (that were subsequently donated to the kids who lived on the plantation here).  We started on the chocolate orange which didnt last too long but had reformed a new shape nothing like an orange!

Later on a large group of Finns, who mainly work in Managua turned up plus a few others for our special Christmas feast (plus it was one of their birthdays too) of rondon.   This is a coconut milk type of soup/stew with crab, fish, onions and herbs, etc.  It was cooked on an open fire just by the beach and tasted delicious.  Drank pina colada and wine and were joined by the local family who work here too and the kids seemed to like the presents although just wanted to keep them in their wrapping!

We then had some special banana birthday cake before descending to the beach where we all stood in a circle and proceeded to each have a shot of black vodka (a Finnish speciality).  This is basically black jack vodka and is gorgeous.  Spent the rest of the afternoon chatting, playing guitar, eating maltesers and drinking rum and swimming.  The Finns left us before dark a few of us sat in the dark with candles trying to shield them from the wind and finished off some rum and pringles.  All in bed by about 2000.

A perfect Christmas day.

26th
Dave was awake most of the night thinking about business ideas (like you do) plus it rained quite hard.  Chilled out a bit before picked up for our last dive while the Finns went out fishing.  After more relaxing the weather started to deteriorate a bit and the wind got up so we sat inside and had another great meal.

27th
Moved beds in our little house to the less open area as the wind was so strong and we couldnīt keep the sheet on us.  Day pretty miserable and we walked to the town as not a lot to do here in this weather and we needed to check whether the boat to Big Corn was going or not.  It wasnt.  An Irish guy was trying to organise another boat as he had to get to Managua for his flight home.  It appeared all sorted until the driver pulled out as the weather was too bad and would get fined by the coastguard if we left.  We went to check out of Ensuenos in case there was a chance of getting our afternoon flight but there wasnt.  Instead we checked into yet another hotel (we are now experts) and sat in a local restaurant and had a great lunch before drinking them out of Tona, Buffalo and nearly Victoria beers (not just us were with about another 10 people too).

28th
Got up at 6.30am in case the 7am panga was going.  It was!  All mad panic to get on and it was full pretty much. Ride was a bit more dodgy this time over and glad we didnt get it yesterday.  Had a plastic sheet over our heads to protect us from the waves which was just as well as otherwise we would have been drenched.

At the other side we all bundled to taxis and were whisked off to the airport which was heaving.  We waited to see if there were any spaces for us on this flight as obviously several other people had missed yesterdays too.  Fortunately after a lot of waiting there was and we headed off leaving a few of our new friends behind.

We were very relieved at this point as we had visions of being stranded here esp as the storms can last a week and another one was forecasted for Sunday.  Little Corn is a great place to visit but is not so idyllic when the weather is crap!

Had a smooth flight back to Bluefields and then Managua.  Holiday over.

Planned to write all of the above in a few sentences, but as ever have failed!
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