Stilts and Forts

Trip Start May 25, 2013
Trip End Jul 25, 2013

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Flag of Nicaragua  , Río San Juan,
Friday, July 5, 2013

At 5am we left Solantiname Islands by panga (slow motor ferry boat)  joining the islanders heading to the market town of San Carlos where we arrived at 7:30am.  We then took the rapido boat (speedboat) past crumbling San Carlos Fortress. to the beautiful village of El Castillo (the castle). 
El Castillo is only accesible by river. Itīsimple wooden houses are built on stilts alongside the river of rapids that flow rapidly along the length of the village..It has an amazing history.  Don,t quote me but when the the Spanish "discovered it" in the 1500īs it was the home of not one but  two civilizations.  In 1675 the Spanish built a fort that looks alot  like a castle sitting atop the small hill.The fort was built because of all those famous Caribean pirates (like Sir Frances Drake and Captain Morgan).   In 1785  Horatio Nelson captured the fort with only 200 men and 50 vessels.  Nine months later no back up or supplies had arrived and only 10 men survived, most dying of dysentry.  Nelson barely survived and much later goes on to defeat Napeleon (I canīt figure out how to spell Napelion but he was that short chubby French guy in a funny hat.  Then with the California Gold Rush in the 1850,s up to 10,000 people a year for ten years traveled in steamship from New York or New Orleans via the Rio San Juan and onto Calif..  The steamships had to be winched by hand up and over the long set of rapids in front of the villages, so all the passengars had to walk the length of the village.  Mark Twain was here and wrote a poem about it being a Paradise.  (and with the jungles liniing the river , it,s easy to see his point). Plus for the last 200 hundred plus years there have been negotiations to build a canal here.  Just last week it was reported that a chinese businessman has now bought a hundred year lease to build and run a canal that essentially replaces the Panama Canal.  Huge ships as big as this village might soon be cruising past this peaceful little stilted village and its castle fortress.  
Zakk especially liked the  fortress walsl which were pockmarked by hundreds of canon balls.  
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