”Bienvenido a Nicaragua, Senõr!” That was the first sentence I heard as we arrived at the border of this beautiful country. We, seven fellow travelers and I, crossed the borders of El Salvador and Honduras by land. Those long and dusty roads in the middle of nowhere were inhabited by more lizards and stray dogs than people. In the distance there were huge mountains, grey rocks overgrown by wild vegetation. The sun burnt down merciless, besides the sound of some crickets it was completely silent as we stopped for a break somewhere in this no-mans-land.
Someone told me it will take eight hours from El Tunco to Leon. Well, it wasn’t a big surprise as we reached our destination after 12 hours 😉 Leon was as hot and humid as El Salvador and Honduras, also during the nighttime. To escape the humidity I planned to climb Cerro Negro, the (probably) most popular Volcano in Nicaragua. But why is it so popular? Watch the Story behind it! Yep. Insane, right? Since I am not that stupid adventurous, the bike was replaced by some sort of snowboard. After roughly one hour of climbing we reached the top and enjoyed the view. And then…
It was fun, still nothing I would do twice (yeah it’s one of those white people tours). Leon as the first stop in Nicaragua was certainly a good decision, even though the city isn’t that of a beauty if you ask me.
Well, that means it’s clearly beach time again – off to the Carribean Coast! There is a group of islands called Corn Islands which are separated in Big and Little Corn. Getting there could be rough and tough, or a bit expensive and (more) comfortable. I chose the second option – flying to Big Corn Island (~$200) whereas the first option is only around $20 and involves two boat rides plus bus transportation. This adds up to >20h. It seems super obvious to go for the cheaper option, but let me explain later on why it was wiser to take the flight. My journey to the Corns started in Leon with a three hour ride to Nicaraguas capital – Managua. Locals told me to avoid this city and from what I saw it doesn’t seem like a traveler would miss out on something there. My driver was speeding a little bit – just to make sure we catch our flight. Of course.
The flight itself was alright, even though the wind was shaking our plane like a salt shaker we were able to enjoy the marvellous view onto the pristine blue carribean sea. And this is where the adventure starts… Our boat was already waiting for us at the harbour. The captain managed to seat 35 people into the vessel which was not more than a nutshell. The engine started and covered us with a cloud of burnt gasoline. I still didn’t have my swim west, this also concerned two other people on the boat which were waiting for their flamboyant lifesaver. El Capitano turned the boat and we started heading towards our destination. The sea was super rough, waves bigger than three meters hit our boat and people started to scream. The captain – a guy not older than me – had a hard time to steer the boat in the right direction, so that we won’t crash straight into the waves. As I sat at the very front of the boat, it was a huge effort to hold onto the bench to not get catapulted into the roaring ocean. We had to stop for a couple of times, the waves were simply too big for our tiny boat. At some stage the captains wife checked on us if everybody’s OK and mentioned we can’t turn around now. More waves were hitting the boat and everyone swallowed a good amount of saltwater. In case we would capsize there was zero chances for me to survive as we – the two other guys and I -didn’t have life vests. Unfortunately there was also a thunderstorm coming closer and closer, so the wind picked up and made it even harder for the captain to get us closer to our destination. While all this happened, one girl just kept on drinking beer and having the time or her life.
After 45 minutes we managed to reach the safe harbour of Little Corn Island. I felt like kissing the ground, not just because I knew the laid back time on Little Corn will start right now. It’s been a while since I’ve been on an island, so I got even more excited about exploring it and see what it has to offer. My first stop was (of course) the Divecenter! Scubadiving in the caribbean ocean is as awesome as it sounds: crystal clear blue water, lots of sharks and colorful corals. Not even two hours later I found myself 21m below sea level and surrounded by a couple of curious nurse sharks. What a great introduction to the underwater world of Nicaragua! The divemaster also gave me a recommendation for the best local food on the island. It is called “Ron Don” – it’s made of Fish, Lobster, Prawns and lots of delicious vegetables which are cooked in a milk broth for around three hours. Yum!
The next few days I spent with diving and reading books on the beach. Did I mention there is barely any WiFi on this island? As Little Corn wants to be explored, I took camera and sunscreen with me for an extensive walk around the island. There are no cars, so it’s actual walking 😉 It didn’t take too long until my first surprise…
This abandoned beach was once exclusively reserved for the customers of Casa Iguana, an Eco Resort. They had to close it down as lots of plastic and other stuff was washed onto the their beach. Have a look – flip flops, cans, plastic bags, straws and many more colorful plastic items (we use day by day) are now polluting the place where once crabs and turtles used to live. We all know what and who causes the problem.
Not even two miles up west the beach gets prettier. Lush and green vegetation everywhere, close-to white sand and azure blue water. Some kids passed by and sold me young, fresh coconuts. I couldn’t ask for more!
The days passed by very fast, so it was time to take the boat back to Big Corn Island. As you can imagine, I was still a bit concerned (or traumatised?!) to get back on this tiny boat. Well, concerned/traumatised or not – there was no other way! Not even half an hour later I safely arrived at my new hostel without any problems or close to death encounters. Since Big Corn is bigger (that came unexpected) I felt less “trapped” and just free. Well, how couldn’t you feel free with these amazing views…
I walked around the island in around four hours with some stops here and there. So many lonely beaches and even more great spots for enjoying the beauty of a seemingly endless blue coloured ocean. After the sun set, a couple of people invited me for dinner and playing card games. Just before bed time I sat down on the roof and looked at the full moon which sent his light out into the clear nightsky. It’s all about the little things in life.
More to come.