The Caribbean & Scuba Diving

Trip Start Nov 15, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Nautilus Guesthouse

Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Thursday, July 22, 2010

I did end up getting a lift from some English people who live in Nicaragua.  Basically I was speaking to this guy in my hostel who said he had friends heading to Managua in the morning so I took the opportunity to bum a ride (why not?!).  I didn't realise I'd be like a hitchhiker sitting in the back of a pick up truck with the wind blowing in my hair!!!
I didn't have to be at the airport until 1pm but I just stored my backpack at the airport and went and visited a shopping mall for the few hours I had to kill in Managua.

Big Corn Island:
Finally, a WOW factor place in Central America!  I'm so glad I decided to fly to the Corn Islands, because going from Managua by land would have entailed an 8hr bus journey, an 8hr ferry ride and a 5hr speedboat ride.  The flight was all of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
I always thought the islands would be beautiful being in the Caribbean 'n' all but even still, I was blown away by the beauty as we came in to land our tiny 12 seater plane .... palm trees, white sandy beaches, hot, hot, hot weather, the sea looked like a nice warm bath and the people ... well, their Caribbean (everything is easy man!).  I hadn't booked accommodation but the guidebook mentioned something about cheap accommodation if you dive with the dive school (there's only 1 on the island).  So a local girl who keeps the guesthouse clean and tidy and also lives there, took me over to get settled in.  Totally made of wood, with a nice porch and front yard, it was a quaint little place.  "Pudding" (the local girl from the guesthouse) gave me the private room as opposed to the dorm, so that was nice.  Together with her, there were 2 other french guys staying in the only other private room - both divers too, in fact one of them used to be the dive master at the dive school but has been on the island for 1.5 years so it's time for him to move on.  
Pudding ... what a character ... she's 21 years old and knows everyone on the island.  I think she was glad of the female company in the house, so she leched onto me straight away and couldn't wait to parade me around town.  How did she put it?  "you're a nice bit of fresh white meat on the island"!!!  And as I caught on pretty quickly, all the guys - young (even kids) and old, started hissing, whistling and propositioning the new white girl every few seconds as I walked around town with Pudding.  hell, even Pudding propositioned me - it's like everyone's on heat over here or is it just the typical forwardness of a Caribbean island?

I booked some diving for the next day and soon noted that the dive master "Tom" (an American in his late fifties) was a cocky know-it-all.  He had just arrived on the island from Pilau in the Philippines and so all he could talk about was the diving over there, when I was asking about the diving in the Corn Islands!  Anyway, we arranged some diving for the next day and Tom said to be at the shop between 9am and 10am (welcome to laid back island time! Ha!).  I arrived at 9:50am and he was gone already, later claiming that he told me between 9am and 9:30am (whatever, I had witnesses!!!).  the following day I went diving but was disappointed with the lack of colour and fish in this part of the Caribbean.  I only saw a large spider crab and a couple of large snapper.  The dive also only lasted 30 minutes as my dive gauge was malfunctioning.  It showed the same sir pressure for about 15 minutes so I surfaced as I didn't know how much air I really had left.  After that and couple with the fact that I then found out that the dive school had no safety equipment such as oxygen and a 1st aid kit, I decided not to dive here again, but I still have Honduras & Belize for diving.

When I first arrived on the island, the weather was scorchingly gorgeous, so I checked out the beaches, the Picnic Centre being my favourite and by far the nicest - white sand, crystal turquoise waters and shallow too, so you could sit in the sea with and ice cold beer and admire the stunning views.  Needless to say, I made a few more trips to that particular beach.
Then the weather turned ugly - intense, torrential rain and thunderstorms, whilst still being hot, causing around 90% humidity - stifling!  Luckily I had a nice group of friends to hang out with - the 2 french guys Paolo & Julien, 2 local boys from the dive shop Ariel & Edward and another English backpacker who arrived a few days after me, Dean.  Despite the weather being bad, Ariel went out spearfishing and cooked us all some barracuda, red snapper and a little lobster just for me.  It was delicious!  

We went out a couple of the nights, once to the Reggae Palace & to Nico's.  What strikes me as rather strange on the island is the huge country & western music influence.  You expect to hear Reggae, Reggaton, Merengue & Salsa music on a Caribbean island but never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to hear country music - so strange!!!

I ended up staying on the island for 7 days but as the weather didn't improve and I wasn't diving, it was time to say goodbye to paradise.  In the short time I was here, I:
1. integrated with the locals, trying desperately to understand creole English (it was difficult at first but it was "arright in de end").
2. tried local dishes - seafood, yuca, pinto (rice & beans AGAIN!), creole salad and lobster almost everyday - yum!
3. went swimming in the sea both during the day and under moonlight after a few beverages!
4. had my hair braided one side of my head by one of Puddings friends (once it went frizzy I had to take it out though)
5. have got used to the hissing, whistling and staring from the locals including provocative comments if God forbid you walk with a local boy! Ha!
6. have been attacked by stray dogs one night when walking back home (lucky I was carrying a stick and yes I'm afraid one of the dogs got a clip round the face - well it was him or me and I haven't had my rabies shot so with 4 dogs attacking me, when one got too close I swung at it!)
7. have been eaten alive by mosquitoes - so much so, I had to take anti-histamine tablets to relive the swelling and itchiness.
8. have showered by torch light due to the frequent power cuts and thunderstorms.  Being in a corrugated iron shower when the thunder is clattering down was a new experience.
9. have met some real characters on the island:
    (a) Tom - a cocky, know-it-all American with a loud laugh and a couldn't care less attitude.
    (b) Pudding - a spoilt 21 year old local girl who gets paid to do bugger all but a few errands 
         and a bit of moping but has frequent tantrums and threatens to kill everyone when she 
         doesn't get her own way (it's funny how worked up she gets as long as it's not at 7am 
         and wakes up the whole house with her foul-mouth screaming fits!)
    (c) The locals, some of whom work together and will have a full scale argument with each 
         other in front of me over who gets to sit in the chair next to me in a bar - that was bizarre.

But my overall impression of the island is a very good one and I leave the island wishing I could stay for longer.  It's been nice to settle somewhere for more than 2 days, to make some friends you see everyday and who share common interests, to cook seafood together and to be on one of the nicest beaches I have seen to date.  If only I'd have stayed longer, I could have visited Little Corn Island as well.
Now for a weeks worth of buses and moving each day to a new place until I reach the next islands in Honduras.
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