Over the river and through the woods

Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
Trip End Apr 28, 2010

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Where I stayed
El Dorado

Flag of Nicaragua  , Región Autónoma Atlántico Sur,
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Tuesday, we left Leon to make our way to the Corn Islands.  The Corn Islands (there are two, creatively named Big Corn and Little Corn) are located off the Carribean coast of Nicaragua, and are known for their beautiful beaches.  To get there, you have a few options -- you can fly (yawn.... how unadventerous) or, you can go overland (yay! much more fun!).  The overland route passes through an area that is known as La Moskita or the Mosquito Coast, a broad expanse of land covering large parts of Honduras and Nicaragua which remains largely uninhabited.

Considering the geographic distances covered, the route was quite simple compared to our recent connections.  One microbus to Managua, a very looooong bus ride to Rama (see the previous map pin), a boat to Bluefields, then a boat to the Big Island.  Then a boat to the smaller island.  Simple, really.

Other than arriving two hours late, the bus ride to Rama was a scenic and uneventful ride.  We met another couple from Sweden, who we would end up spending the next several days with, and passed through a variety of different landscapes, passing volcanos, fields, and rainforest on the way.  The boat ride from Rama to Bluefields was supposed to be, by all previous accounts, highly uneventful.  Apparently nobody else did this in the rain.

When we arrived in Rama, we got our first surprise - due to the lateness of our arrival, we had reached Rama just minutes before the departure of the last boat of the day.  Ok, that's fine.  Oh, and there were only 3 spots left on the boat.  Hmmm... there were four of us, counting the Swedish couple.  Well, after some talking and considering and consulting with the captian, they agreed to squeeze all four of us on.  After all, we figured, there's always room for one more person. 

When we got down to the dock, we got our first surprise.  Our boat wasn't the one with standing room space, hammocks, and an open deck.  It was the smaller one (called a panga) that looked more or less the same as the launchas we had traveled on in Belize and Guatemala.  Except that it was full.  Each row had four people across, smooshed in shoulder to shoulder without an inch to spare.  And we were going to be squeezing five people into that same space.  It also didn't help that we had the very front, backwards-facing row of the boat.

Aside from being crowded, this perhaps may have still not been a problem.  However, about five minutes into the boat ride, it started to rain.  Hard.  From the back of the boat, a piece of plastic was gradually passed up and unfolded.  It turns out that this plastic was a tarp, large enough to cover the entire boat and all of its passengers, so long as those of us in the front row held on tight enough to keep it in place.  So now, we're smooshed beyond belief, riding backwards, bouncing out of our seats on every wave, and holding a tarp in place at the same time.  It has never taken so much effort to just sit on a boat before!  Under the tarp, it felt like a little kid in a tent, everyone trying to hide from what's outside.  Unfortunately, it was also extremely loud as the plastic flapped around in the wind.

The boat ride was a little over an hour and a half long.  Luckily, it didn't rain the whole trip (only on and off) so we did occasionally get little breaks to see the area we were passing through.  It was truely in the middle of nowhere, and seemed to be a combination of forest, occasional small houses along the river, and bannana plantations.  It was scenic, even in the rain.

So are we there yet?  Ha!  After a night in Bluefields, we departed Wednesday for the islands.  This boat ride is the one that was actually supposed to be... interesting.  And it was.  I'll spare the details on this one, and just point out that it was long (6.5 hours) and very very rough.  After a short pause on Big Corn, we caught the still rough (but not nearly as bad) panga over to Little Corn.
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