AN ISLAND WHERE CORN GREW
As soon as I was stepping off the two propeller plane, I noticed this island was something else. The minute arrivals area of the airport it’s inside one level building. The method to get your bags it’s simple. Your bag gets a number once being checked in at Augusto C. Sandino Airport, in Managua, and you get a matching number too. So, once inside arrivals at the island, Airport Personnel reads the number attached to the bag aloud, and the owner of it claims it by showing the matching number. A couple jokes about Bingo, and Lottery were said discreetly audibly among the traveling crowd.
I’m writing about our arrival at Big Corn Island Airport from Managua. From the island, which is ten square kms., I took a boat, to head to Little Corn Island, this happening right after taking a taxi at the exit of the airport. The ride on the public boat takes close to thirty minutes, and it costs 165 Cordobas, or $5.50. We descended in Little Corn right at sunset. Superb timing. Sunset and a cold beer, or a Flor de Caña 7 years shot for $1, the last one was my drink of choice.
There are a few restaurants in front of the beach at Little Corn, Cafe Desideri and Tranquilo Cafe are right next to each other, I had dinner at the first one, and ended up having one exquisite meal, for real, the prices here are a more expensive than next door, but it’s totally worth it. I mean, having a large variety of fresh seafood it’s a privilege not many beaches have. From Red Snappers to Yellow Tails, from Shrimps to massive Lobsters, this place is heaven for seafood lovers. And the owner, a guy from the U.S. is the one who cooks, and from time to time he’s a special dinner made out from his catch of the day. Also, this place has a fast wifi connection, in fact, I think a faster one in the the island, if not the fastest.
Next day, after delicious pancakes with blueberries breakfast, and a pitaya (dragon fruit), mango and banana smoothie, all these at Tranquilo Cafe, I went exploring the east part of the island, this island it’s only 3 square kms. of surface, everything it’s a 30 minutes walk, but I decided to rent a bike for the whole day for $5. So I made it to the east side of the island in less than 5 minutes, and as soon as I arrived I was welcomed by a wonderful view of calm turquoise ocean water, and beige colored sand. God, I felt inside of one of the backgrounds in a desktop from Windows, or a Mac. So many palm trees and a cool breeze, with a few fishing boats in the horizon, and just after the coral reef were waves breaking. The day was perfect, sunny and windy. I parked my bike, and started to walk, and passed through cabins for rent in front of the beach, until I saw a couple I met on the boat the day before, I joined them at the beach to talk for awhile and share a beer, beer or talk that lead for them to join my plan of exploration through the east and north part of the island.
We walked for a couple hours, and only stopped to swim in empty beaches, and to jump and swing using ropes hanging from coconut trees. A few times we ended up in front of properties used for tourists for camping, or cabins for rent. We met a couple playful doggies that were chilling at this spot used for camping and swam for a while with them. At some point we were so thirsty, hungry and tired. That’s when we found the entrance of Hotel Yemaya. We were so excited that we ordered Toñas, they were sooo cold, and sooo more expensive in comparison from the usual $1.75 beer from Desidere or Tranquilo, but then we found out that this is the most luxury hotel at the island. Private clean beach with a front bar and restaurant, checked.
That night I had dinner at this place called El Bosque, I tried two delicious lobsters cooked in coconut milk for $8. As a seafood lover I knew I was going to be eating 6 times a day, and I can see that now in my belly. But, it was fit for the occasion. Now I’m back in the water surfing again, but, that’s another story.
While heading back my hotel, Los Delfines, I came across Marcos, a guy that works there, and he told me that they were going for a snorkel trip the next day with a group of tourists from another part of the island, and offer me to join in. Deal closer was that I was going to be able to watch nurse sharks, and maybe turtles. So, next day at noon I was on a boat heading to the outer reef, the whole trip lasted two hours and a half, and I was so excited in the end of it, because in the first spot we stopped the reef was so wide, that everyone was able to watch all kinds of colorful fishes, there were lots of parrotfishes, yellowhead jawfish, queen angelfish, among many others. Then, on the second spot, we went deeper, and that’s where I saw for the first time in their own environment a shark, a nurse shark. These guys they rest in the bottom of the reef, they are super chill, but, at some point while I was observing them, one started towards me, and I felt like a deer standing on the road while some headlights were coming in my way. I didn’t know what to do, I totally freaked out, and just stayed under water without doing anything. That made me think about what would I do in a situation in which I’d have to defend myself in the water from whatever the hell that attacks me. I saw some rays, and ended up really happy to have taken this snorkeling trip, and sad that it had lasted so short, and that I wasn’t able to watch a turtle. Next time I head back to Little Corn, which I will if life allows me, I will snorkel every day.
Once back in the island it was rum time with my new friends from the boat. That night I tried dinner at Tranquilo Cafe, and while checking on the menu, I saw they had baby back ribs, if I were a superhero, or a villain, ribs would be my weakness. They were OK, kinda dry for my taste, but they were tender, maybe slow cooked, which exceeded my expectations.
I wanted to chill at the beach the day before New Year, so I spent most of the time at Yemaya beach, and on the way back to town after sunset I went to check The Lighthouse. What a great decision, this place it’s completely different from the other places in front of the beach, for a start, it’s in the hills overlooking the turquoise ocean, it’s runned by Canadians, and they make the best mojitos in town for sure. The atmosphere it’s very relaxed and most of the customers are foreigners that are guests at the hotel or from Yemaya. This is the place that I liked the most for chilling and spending the after sunset time. I actually came back the next day to spend the afternoon, and stayed a couple hours after sunset having conversations with the owner, volunteers behind the bar and customers, coming from El Tunco, in El Salvador, this is what I’m used to do.
I decided to have dinner with friends at Cafe Desidere, I tried the Lobster Burger on NYE, and it’s a must try. Then spend the night waiting for the firelights to announce 2018 had begun. Waited dancing and joking around with the people I had met in this trip. When 00:00 marked the beginning of the new year, fireworks lighted and brightened the starry sky for several minutes.
The party scene that came afterwards it’s indescribable, but it was friendly, warm, filled with drinks, and lasted until sunrise, it was just what I wanted since watching the sunrise from the new year has been my thing since the last 10 years, or maybe even more.
I had to go back to Managua the next day at noon, my flight was leaving at 3 pm from Big Corn Island. I wanted to pamper myself, so I took a private boat around 1 to the island and spent the next couple of hours smiling like a crazy person remembering the hours before my departure from Little Corn.
Little Corn Island it’s a great place to spend time, not only a few days or a week, but it’s the kind of place that traps you because of its welcoming people, the food!, the calm ocean filled with large amounts of beautiful life underneath, and the cool nights. Next time I’m gonna stay here for at least a month.
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