I shouldn’t have been complaining. I remember grumbling about the waves being small to nonexistent, but now that I look at the pictures and I’m sure you’ll agree, I had nothing to complain about. We were staying in a nice little house with our own pool and a short walk to the beach with nothing to do except sleep, eat, read, chase waves and repeat. We actually changed our travel plans to catch a little pulse and the reports read much better than the actual conditions, but in hindsight…it was pretty good! If I remember right, the session in the photos consisted of me and one other guy sharing the occasional set waves that weren’t all that bad. We weren’t getting shacked out of our minds, but it just goes to show how spoiled we get. Nevermind the option to enjoy cocktails in the pool while watching the tide drop and the reef slowly expose until the sun set. Yeah…vacation wasn’t so bad at all.
Click on any photo to see it full screen!
There’s only one ‘airline’ that flies to Corn Island called Costena Air. They run a fleet of small and smaller planes to service Nicaragua and Costa Rica destinations. I pictured us in a Cessna 172, but we actually flew in a 40 seat twin prop passenger plane that was as comfortable as any other mass carrier. Plus they give you free drinks in flight on only a 1.5 hour plane ride! They did take our Leatherman’s from us, I guess so we didn’t hijack the plane?! They were nice enough to ‘check’ the Leathermen and give us a claim check to pick them up on our arrival. We had a quick stop in Bluefeilds to drop off and pick up passengers…then it was a 15 minute hop over to the island. When we arrived, as I mentioned before, it was windy! It’s save to say there were 30+knot winds and that made the landing bumpy. Plus this is a third world, isolated runway…meaning there’s livestock along the sides, presumably to eat the grass, and people waving as we arrived…that’s just what they do all day every day. Once there a cab spirited us away to Hotel Paraiso where we checked in and then went for a walk. The ocean was so angry , the short period wind waves were splashing up onto the road. Most structures on the island are built on stilts because the island is completely under water when a hurricane arrives. It’s a quaint place though, with very nice people, piles of conch shells everyone, a small fishing village and, with about a 6 mile circumference, everybody knows everybody! I think someone with a bad case of gas would make the news. One of our favorite places was called Spikito. This is a small bar/restaurant/nightclub on the North East corner of the island. The vibes are very Caribbean, but the best part is their shark pool. They captures a few nurse sharks and keep them in an enclosure formed from a jetty of volcanic boulders. The sharks are pretty lazy and don’t do much except scarf fish heads and lobster shells cast off the deck by diners. Of course with the strong winds Kayla lost her flip flop to the shark tank and warily waded in to retrieve it. Being the galant one, I watched and hoped the sharks decided to swim over and investigate her…no such luck. She made it out un-scared and gladly unscathed. While hanging at Spikito we got into some good conversations with some locals, Quinn, DJ and Big Black. Big Black was actually from Jamaica and he was, as his name conveys, big and black. The conversations got notably more difficult as the drinks became more plenty. They modify their Creole dialect and as they get more drunk they fall more into the local colloquial that it really became another language. I spent some years on the Island of Antigua…it barely helped.
A big part of the reason we went to Corn Island was to see another part of Nicaragua that we’d heard so much about, but knew nothing beyond the guide book accounts. We wanted to be able to answer guests questions with true knowledge. We can safely say though that we would definitely recommend to anybody going to Corn Island. By anybody we mean those who don’t see an analyst on a regular basis, they don’t use the word ‘yucky’ or ‘icky’, they don’t freak out when the power goes out, they don’t mind sitting in taxis with strangers, they understand that the restaurant might be out of chicken because the boat didn’t arrive, and they are happy to eat fish every day when that happens. It’s rustic, out there, but quaint enough to be worth it. We’re looking forward to going back and we can only hope that the weather is a little better.
So we’ve been out of contact and out of sorts, but we’re back and healthier than ever…and by that I mean we’re fat and happy. Kayla and I took off for a little vacation…if you read the earlier post about the “Skunks, Scorpions and Puppies” you’ll know we spend the first half of the vacation at our Southern Outpost where we found small waves and more time to eat and sleep than is appropriate. From there we headed for a place called Corn Island which is 30 miles East of the East coast of Nicaragua. We found a cute little retreat called El Paraiso and after a bumpy ride and even bumpier landing we were safe on the ground on this idyllic island for a three nights stay. Upon planning this trip we had visions of white sand beaches and crystal clear waters accenting our days of tropical drinks and lazy snorkeling trips. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate. It started raining the first day and pretty much didn’t stop for the time we were there. The winds were so strong we couldn’t even venture into the water as there was no beach and there is sharp reef everywhere…so knowing the reef is crucial to not stepping on it, rolling over it, or smashing into it. We filled out time with reading, socializing, meeting new people, watching movies and drinking the inevitable vast amounts of anything liquid and alcoholic. We did rent a golf cart for an adventure and found a cool bar with it’s own tide pool with sharks in it. They were only Nurse sharks, but when given the opportunity, you never tell people they’re harmless. I did have the best lobster I’ve had in years… true salsa criola straight Caribbean style! We had no internet while on the island as the antennae had been blown out/away…or so that was their excuse. We’ve got more pictures to come…and some more stories straight form “Carn-islan mon”
So we’re chillin’ at the house, making some dinner, having some wine and all is not good. We put Luke outside, where dogs should be and then we smelled skunk! Sure enough he wasn’t smoking a joint as we hoped, he had been sprayed. Said skunk had climbed into a gutter pipe, but was having a hard time making the corner to climb up. Some tapping on the pipe did not scare the skunk out. Keep in mind, the whole time we’re gagging from the smell…as I am now that the smell has infiltrated the interior of the house. I got the garden hose thinking that spraying the skunk might scare it away. It did not. So I turn the garden hose up to the gutters and as they fill, so does the drain pipe. We expect the skunk to come shooting out, but instead it’s a trove of scorpions…unnerving to say the least. As the pipe filled and the scorpions scattered, the skunk gave way and traipsed off to, hopefully be forgotten. It reeks! I don’t know what part of me, Kayla or anything else has skunk spray on it, but I have a feeling we’re going to be smelling this for a minute. Imagine rotten garlic and gasoline reduced down…that’s what it smells like!
Just some clips of us surfing this latest small swell…really…
The little swell we had finally lost most of its gusto and it dwindled down to sub waist high occasional rollers that forced us down to Transito to find anything surf-able. At that it was only possible to surf on a longboard. It was good for the beginners, but even then they were antsy to find other activities and so we spent some time in Leon sightseeing and going out to a nice steak dinner. With all the extra time on our hands we took to sprucing up room two with new ceiling tiles and some artwork that it sorely needed. We love the new paintings, especially the matching pair of ladies; one smoking a cigar and another playing a hand of cards. That’s one thing that’s pretty affordable here in Nicaragua is nice artwork by local artisans. It seems almost criminal to pay as little as $25 for a 24″x26″ piece! Changing the ceiling tiles is interesting too. We found mangos, tamarind seeds, porno mags, DVD’s and another 20lbs of miscellaneous trash. I guess it’s our version of spring cleaning. Whoever is ready, Room 2 is looking good. We also built a chicken coup. Our last and lonely hen, Penny had the brood of chicks (9 in total with only 8 remaining). In anticipation we build a chicken coup that’s nicely outfitted with 7 nests, two side doors and a hinged top…presumably so we can get the fresh eggs every morning. If you’ve never had fresh eggs, they are amazing. There’s something about them that makes you feel like you never tasted an egg until you’ve had a fresh one. We still don’t know if the chicks are roosters or hens…but I’ve got a deal worked out to trade the roosters for hens to Marvin and Jose. They want fighting cocks…I want peace and quiet.
They don’t exactly celebrate Thanksgiving down here. In fact they don’t know what it is and so they don’t celebrate at all. There are no freezers full of butterballs, or specials on pumpkin pie. Turkey friers don’t fly off the shelves either. So in the absence of a needed feast, we opted to make some salsa instead. We’ve got two new batches, named after two Kiwi’ buddies who spent the last week with us. They’re not the most PC names,the Kiwis weren’t exactly the two most PC fellas, but who needs that when we’re talking about salsa as hot as the sun. The “Kiwi Cuss Jar” is a habanero and mango concoction that we gave an “11” on the hot scale…an homage to its predecessor “Spinal Tap”… “you know because eleven is betta'”. The “Good Cunt” salsa is a combination of Thai chilies with guayaba puree and some Asian spices. It’s sweet and spicy like a smooth textured chutney. As you might, or might not know, use of the word “cunt”, which is found vulgar in most countries, is akin to using the word buddy or pal in New Zealand. As you’ll see from the photos, the salsa was hot enough to induce some interesting faces and even had people doing flips to put the fire out. Never mind the burn today, it’s the burn tomorrow you have to worry about;-) Thanks(for)giving me fire-ass!
I didn’t plan on offering Fly’N’Dive packages, but it seems we are doing so. Of course we can teach you how to fly, but landing is another thing…Luckily we have an abundance of tide pools for crashing into. As well we can teach you how to dive, but shooting a fish is a bit more difficult. Needless to say we took a day off from the waves, or should I say, the waves took a day off from us. We filled our time with the usual array of exploration and shooting poor fishes in the face! In fact our friends from Switzerland had put in the notes that they do not eat fish. When asked, they said they didn’t like fish because of it’s fishiness. They’ve been converted and now eagerly wolf down grilled fish, fish tacos, and even fish curry. If you’re not a fish lover some fresh Trigger or Parrot fish fillets will change your mind.
Oh…and happy thanksgiving! I hope your day is as full of fun as your belly is full of turkey, pie and all the trimmings!
Well they weren’t the smallest barrels I’ve seen… it would have been XXL for GI Joe. The fact that a large man like myself could fit in the barrels means they couldn’t have been that small. It was pretty fun though and nobody got bounced…well one guy did, but he wasn’t in our group and he’s always getting bounced anyway;-) Considering we had to drive just over an hour to get to the waves and we were gambling on the winds staying offshore and the crowds not being too bad, we scored. Winds were perfect, crowd was light and very friendly and the sunset wasn’t too bad either. My only complaint…the Tonas were too cold…they hurt my teeth. Oh…and the drunk driver on the way home, but you already read about that in the last blog. Some of you might not know this, but I can see into the future…yes, right now I see me in a hammock with a new copy of Surfer Magazine! I’ll let you know if my vision comes true.
This one deserves a blog of it’s own and it really has nothing to do with Matthew McChonaughy, who apparently got drunk in Nicaragua once and the photos made it onto the net…so when I searched for a random photo for this blog and entered “drunk Nicaraguan” into google search, most of what I found was Matthew..often with his shirt off of course, but I digress…
So we took a Rooooaaaaaad Trip to Gran Pacifica and it was awesome of course, but on the way home something more awesome happened. We were ambling down the road just after sunset and we came up on a beater of a car swerving this way and that along the road. I mean, this was not your normal buzzed driver or even drunk driver…this was a wasted driver. Of course we do not condone this kind of behavior so we put on our hazard lights and followed. I must admit I was hoping the idiot drove off the road into a tree. He was only going about 17mph and of course he had his seatbelt and airbags to save him (yeah right!) We really didn’t want this person causing injury to anyone and so we followed, as I honked and flashed the brights at oncoming traffic. The boozer was on the shoulder one second and then swerving across to the other shoulder through his inebriated reactions. I kept on him by flashing the brights and honking the horn…and then a good thing happened. He stopped. So I pull up along side, I’m in the right lane and he’s in the wrong (left) lane. I jump out of the car and stick my head in his passenger window and ask him if he’s all right. I did not understand what he said, but I did stick my arm in the car, I swiftly pulled the keys out of the ignition, I pulled back and let the keys fly into the dark bushes on the side of the road…I did say good luck to him. I jumped back in our truck and sped away leaving the inebriated individual parked for a questionable amount of time…probably enough time for him to sober up…hopefully. I woke up this morning wondering if he’d found his keys yet? Good deed for the day done!