Buccaneers and drug runners.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Rolling into the bus station in Managua on our way from León to Corn Islands, the locals are playing "spot the gringo" again. It´s a huge bus station and we are going to the far end. Seven or eight taxi drivers spot Catherine, Steve and me on the bus, and they are now all racing each other side-by-side, honking, doing handbrake turns and burning rubber in order to reach our bus stop first. Again the bus is surrounded in seconds. We keep cool and settle for the laidback taxi driver who is slowly rolling in a couple of minutes later, to the great disappointment of the local Montoya's.

We just turn up at the domestic airport hoping to get tickets to Corn Islands. Not a problem, we just have to weigh ourselves on the luggage weight before we are allowed aboard the plane. 82 Kilo's, hmm I haven't lost a single gram. Wonder if the beer is somehow involved. There's no computers at the check-in, issuing tickets are done using pen and paper here. Makes me kind of confident in the reservation system allowing us to travel back to the mainland in a few days, ....not.

Corn Islands are two islands (Big Corn and Little Corn) on the Carribean coast of Nicaragua. It's starting to become popular among backpackers, but because it's pretty hard getting there overland (by bus and boat) and because the flights probably cost more than the average backpacker budget can handle, it's still very unspoilt. Corn Islands used to be famous as a buccaneers haven, but are now more popular among the drug runners, coming up by boat from Colombia, on their way to Central America and the US. Something we got to experience on Little Corn one morning, when a capsized drug runner boat was towed to dock by the local authorities.

Big Corn is pretty nice, but Little Corn gets my vote. There's no cars or motorized vehicles on Little Corn, only walking paths criss-crossing the small island. About 550 people or so live here, and it's as peaceful as it gets. At least so it seems on our arrival. Life is moving at crab speed here, something the locals are reminded of constantly. At least on Big Corn, where roadside crab traffic signs are dotting the few roads. On Little Corn we stay at some bamboo huts on the quiet side of the islands. Here we find ourselves among palm tree swung hammocks, cold beer as well as the cheapest and best lobster I've ever had. That there's no running water or flush toilets come as a bonus. Taking a shower using a bucket of cold rain water has always been an ambition of mine.

We meet Carmen who is staying at the same place as us, a very nice and friendly girl from South Carolina traveling around Central America, and we all hang out together for a few days, diving, hammock-idling, reading, playing cards, eating great seafood as well as having the "odd" beer or two. The four of us all plan to head to Granada in a couple of days, so look out for new adventures soon...
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