Rich and I begin our journey with my friend Jan dropping us off at Fort Lauderdale Airport. We had to wait around for a bit but enjoyed a bloody Mary and talked about what we would do first. We boarded our plane without any complications and arrived in Managua after about 2 and 1/2 hours. I think it was two hours time difference.
I arrived in Nica all excited and stepped into the airport to the surprise of men with BUG GUNS stationed all through. Culture shock for sure. We laughed, and went with the flow. They take domestic flights in one side of airport and cattle heard us gringos to the left side and through customs. Customs was fairly simple and quick to get through. The super major pain in the ass thing was deciding to hang out in the airport overnight as we wanted to catch the first flight over to Bluefields. There are no comfy seats to curl up on. We headed to the food court and fired up the laptop for a bit. I know, I know. But this was before I could actually relax. There is wifi connection and a couple ATM’s if you are thinking you need cash.
Check out this pic! Head out and see the fence at the end, you have to go down there for La Costena.
We were in line for 7am for the La Costena flight to Bluefields which would connect with our smaller plane to Big Corn. There are alot of people here first thing in the morning. Blue collar guys going to jobs and people coming from visiting family and friends on the mainland. The ticket counter is cramped and again, looks like something out of a third world country…oh wait, that is where we are! The have to step on a scale with your luggage and weigh you and your luggage together for the manifest. YIKES!!! People had chickens in crates and many construction workers had their tools for the week. When you get you boarding pass, you head through a narrow hall and into a small room that leads into the holding cell…strike that waiting room. It was comical, and very interesting to people watch. We had to take our bags until they called our number and then we carried it outside to a cart and boarded the plane. Check the plane out!
You take a small hour ride to Bluefields acorss the center of Nica, very rural and lots of farms. I was looking for Cocaine or weed fields but have to admit I couldn’t tell!
Once in Bluefields you have to change planes. This plane is definitely a blast from the past. The thing sat about 15 people and I thin I saw a piece of chicken wire and duct tape holding the flap together. Just joking, but OMG it made me want to kiss the ground when I landed in Big Corn.
Thankfully you are not on the plane very long.
make sure your luggage makes it with you. Apparently it is their policy to load people first and fill seats on the small plane to Little Corn. The luggage may very well follow you and you have to wait about an hour for it. Very weird concept.
This is the point where we found our man, Sergio. We hung out and talked about the island while we waited for the luggage. His car was a bust up old white thing. We would call this an economy car in America. A well loved, ruggedly used, economy car.
He took us to the dock area. Municipal Wharf in Brig Bay was the little dock area. There was a little restaurant/bar and we ordered a rum and coke and got a small bottle of rum and a can of coke. Very funny to us. All for $5. I think you got like 6 rums out of it and we had to buy another an of coke. The girl at the bar was swamped. As there were about 12 drinkers in this group waiting to go to Little Corn. It was hilarious. Just give us the bittle and and can of coke. Super Funny! We were famished and were told the kitchen was closed till dinner. I think we may have been there at 2:30pm. Oh, Well! We purchased our ticket to get to Little Corn. To get to Little Corn Island, you pay the $3 to get into Brig Bay where you will find the water taxi waiting on the lower, wooden dock.
The schedule for the water taxi to Little Corn is coordinated with flight arrival and departure times;
Big Corn – Little Corn at 10a & 4p
Little Corn – Big Corn at 7a & 2p
Travel time is 1/2 – 1 hour depending on weather.
This is where I tell you to get a lifevest and use it for a seat cushion. Rough ride on the tush. Sit towards the bag, you will find all the locals there. (Well, one capsized recently so maybe you should use the lifevest!)
We were told to pack anything you didn’t want getting soaked in garbage bags. Your bags will be soaked on a rough ride and you don’t want to wear salty clothes, have cameras ruined or laptops burned out..
Time for another funny story…
We both sat back row and laughed at the tourists getting into the front of the boat for a nice view. Our drinking buddy Irish friends were heading over so we told them our little secret. They moved next to us. We all chuckled and laughed as everyone boarded.
Everyone started scambling for this one lady. Rich had to give up his seat in the back row. Apparently she had just had a baby, she was heading back home. So tiny two or three days old. Apparently Little Corn Islanders go to BIG Corn where the midwives and Docs are. So we are in for a rough ride and she started freaking out about the baby getting wet. They rolled out the red carpet…I mean plastic tarps to protect her from getting wet. Being on the outside it was our job to hold the tarps up above heads so we didn’t get wet from the waves. I do not think I stopped laughing the whole way. My little Irish drinking buddy was next to me and was petrified of the whole trip. I think he just didn’t have enough FDC! Honestly, I almost wet myslef from laughing the whole ride over!.
Ok, so we arrive at Little Corn, mind you this island is all of 1.5 miles. I have to haul my large ass up about 8 feet to the dock. I decide to wait towards the end as we had reservations at Los Delphines so no rush. Save some dignity. Rich goes up first, climb on side of boat, and hauls gear up.
stay tuned tomorrow for rest of little corn
Back to Corn Island. And it was held together on the spoiler by duct tape and chicken wire. We decided to get a little tour of the island and then head to the Morgans to stay. I will tell you the tour cost me the front ocean view but what the heck! Sergio gave us the spin around the island and explained a bit of the culture for us. I would say from my conversation that Sergio was an “islander”. A local, born and bred there and very proud of his heritage. He talked about the island being split with the scum (not my words) that come from the mainland to squat and waste this islands resources. His words, not mine. I will say that after being there for a few days, you can see and feel the dissension between these two groups. There is clearly a part of the island that is squatted on and the people live in horrendous conditions. They take the fish, lobster, fruit and jobs of locals and leave a terrible mess. When I say terrible mess, I mean garbage piles that they burn everywhere. There is not the sense of pride that you get when you venture through. I think this is what they call Brig Bay.
I thought Sally Peaches was a cute area with more heritage and pride. This is where the story of the dark man comes into play. Apparently there is what the locals call the dark man. He lives in this bad, impoverished area and comes out at dusk. I am bringing this up because here is where I think getting to know the locals makes for a much more interesting trip. We had already stopped at the liquor store and were enjoying a few cold ones. We wanted to check out two hotels, Hotel Paraiso and the Picnic center. We headed down to Paraiso on a bumpy, pothole ridden road that had been washed out in several places. Hold onto your hats! Sergio, high tailed it down there for us to have a look but told us it was not wise to stay in this area. It looked quaint, nice little bungalows that were in a complex that was walled in. We decided not to stay as it was not directly on the beach. Rooms go for $55 a night. It has 10 bungalows and it was air conditioned and clean. Just not what I was looking for. But you could see the level of poverty was much higher in this area. Tiny sheds made up of any scrap metal they could find. Paraiso offers a daily scuba trip and also fishing trips.
Sergio heads to the Picnic area and drives us down some rustic roads, hits a branch and his spoiler falls off. At this point I am laughing my ass off! We get out and he pulls out duct tap but runs out. Never fear, Rich, the ever ready diver is here. He pulls out his duct tape in his dive emergency kit. (Do not bring a role. Wrap it around a pencil. It takes up less room.) It was definitely a binding moment. We offer Sergio a cool one and this is where the dark man story comes in. Apparently this is this demon with a face a wolf and red eyes. Don’t walk alone at night. He preys on woman. Don’t stop for the darkman if he steps in front of the car. He REALLY REALLY believed everything he was saying. I don’t know if this story is true or not but I did understand and appreciate his honest belief in this. Perhaps it was a way to keep people from mixing with the non “locals”.
We then headed to the picnic area. This is am expansive area of clean white beaches located between Waula Point and Bluff Point. Very European looking. Again, was a bit too sterile for me without the local charm so we decided to head on. The picnic area is where we found out we could rent tanks and weights. We made arrangements to meet the man in the morning to pick up both.
We cruised around the Island a while longer and Sergio suggested Morgans to stay. Owned by a local family and in a nice area. It is gated and the gate is closed and locked at night. The family lives in the back. We met an uncle who was visiting and they have two daughters. We felt safe and secure. Of course Rich has his massive dive knife in his pocket at all times so I felt pretty good.
The family was super nice and very attentive. Being the privileged American that I am, I like plenty of ice in my cocktails. The family was kind enough to keep my “yello” full. Spanish word for ice is “heilo” but it is pronounced “yello”.
We went to out room. These are 2 story little flats. Our room was on the second row. We decided to stay on the top floor. It was spacious with a queen bed in the back alcove and a small twin to the left side. It was equipped with a fridge with cold beverages in it. Beer and soda was just $1. Just as cheap as buying it yourself. They also had a small sitting area with a couch and tv. The bathroom was tiny and I would receive an occasional jolt if I played with the shower hose but it was great priced at $25 night.
There are these little steps that go into the water ( our happy hour spot) and convenient for the few shore dives we did.
This is where I have to tell you, the BEST BEST BEST shrimp ceviche and lobster ceviche was served at Morgans. Large succulent, fresh shrimp and absolutely melt in your mouth lobster. Kudos to the chef there.
We also had a nice pescado firto meal there and breakfast on one day. Breakfast in Nica is interesting and a bit different than what I was used to. But tasty. Eggs were scrambled and served up with some red salsa like stuff added. A bit spicy. On the side you got some red beans and rice and some island cheese. The cheese is like a cross between a hard feta and tofu. Texture was weird and it had a sharp pungent flavor to it. There is nothing creamy about it. But again, on the island, go with the flow. Coffee was rich, bold and served in a huge cup. Important detail for me first thing in the morning. I really enjoyed the convenience of Morgans. Everything went on a tab and you paid up at the end.
Shore diving at Morgans:
After opting out of Nautilus for diving, we went right off shore down thr steps from Morgans. Nice different mix of sealife than what we see in Florida. The first thing you notice is giganormous starfish. 6-9″ around. I watched the guys for ages. I am sure Rich was ike, get over the starfish but as those of you who have read my posts before know, I love the microlife and how everything interacts with each other from the tiny to huge sharks. We did three shore dive and scrubbed the fourth. First two dives were fine. We got s little disoriented and didn’t get far
We called Sergio on our handy disposable phone and went to the picnic area to rent some tanks. Our plan was to dive with Nautilus this morning. We didn’t, but that was our plan. We loaded our weights and got dropped off by Sergio at Nautilus restaurant for breakfast. If you are hungry while on Bog Corn, this is the place to go. We had flying saucer pancakes. HUGE plates falling off the side. The juice is served fresh here and is a nice pick me up. I know we had breakfast twice here. Lunch once and dinner once. Servers were friendly, we way overtipped. But they were such nice smiling girls. Do not be in a rush here or anywhere else on the islands. Food takes a while but it is worth it. There was also some nice mango and guava jams to go along the fresh cocobread. We asked where they got it and they told us conveneitnly at the little bodega next door. , we went up to talk with them about diving. Rich didn’t get a good feel. So we opted out.