Returning Again — Back on Little Corn Island

This is a first — going back to somewhere I’ve already been. Generally speaking, the world seems so huge and so full of amazing destinations that repeating one never struck me as a judicious use of my short allotment of time. However, given a rather small window of time for our honeymoon, Corrinne and I decided that the vaguely familiar would be more fun than something totally unpredictable and new.

Of course, the universe being what it is, our second trip to Little Corn Island has been unpredictable and entirely new. Other than the Best Western, still stolidly sitting directly across from the Managua airport, coming back to Nicaragua has presented a host of new and interesting experiences.

For instance we weren’t counting on the fact that the increased gas prices have severely pinched the average lobster fisherman and to protest the fact that lobster prices remain at their pre-expensive gas levels, the fisherman converged on the airstrip on Big Corn Island and proceeded to blockade the runway with trucks and their own bodies, effectively cutting off the island from the mainland for four days. All inbound flights were forced to stop in Bluefields, leaving stranded travelers milling around a town with very little to offer. Those looking to go the other way, back to Managua, were in even worse shape — no incoming planes meant no outgoing ones either.

Those desperate to make connecting flights onward from Managua were forced to charter fishing boats for up to $1200 and suffer through what had to be a very punishing ride across rough seas all the way back to Bluefields where they might be able to catch a (now very crowded) flight back to Managua.

Fortunately the same sort of blind luck that has gotten me this far prevailed and the fishermen gave up the strike the morning we were set to leave.

Stranded on Big Corn

Unfortunately, the drivers of the panga boat that runs between Big Corn and Little Corn didn’t feel like there was enough business to bother with the evening trip the day we arrived. So Corrinne and I, along with a dozen or so fellow travelers, were stranded on Big Corn that night.

Being stranded on an island in the Gulf of Mexico probably doesn’t sound all that bad, but if the island happens to be Big Corn, well there just isn’t much worth seeing or doing on Big Corn. And everything nice on Big Corn is at the south end, but our ferry was set to leave the next morning from the north end, so heading out for an explore seemed like a good way to miss the morning boat and possibly spend yet another day waiting.

We holed up in a guesthouse just off the public shipping dock and spent the the afternoon and evening drinking and talking to the other people stuck in the same situation. Most of the local restaurants were closed, though we did manage to find a decent plate of shrimp and of course, plenty of Victoria to go around.

And I made a hilarious discovery that proved a revelation to even the two dive masters who lived on Little Corn — topless lighters. The store across the street from the Big Corn ferry sells the sort of cigarette lighters that have built-in flashlights, but rather than a simple LED flashlight, the manufacturer decided to go to the next logical level and packed in an image that looks to have been pirated from 1970s-era Playboy pinups. The result is a spotlight of a half naked Playmate, which provided no end of amusement to our stranded group.

In fact, Big Corn would have been pretty much okay were it not for the dog somewhere in the vicinity of our guesthouse that sounded like it was being skinned alive. It wasn’t, though the next morning several guests volunteered to do so, but it barked, yelped, cried and otherwise howled from around the time we went to bed until just before dawn. I actually didn’t hear it much since I can sleep through just about anything, but no one else got much sleep that night.

The Wet Season

The first day on Little Corn we managed to find a bit of sun in the afternoon and somehow were already under shelter every time the rains came. Shelter is an interesting thing in the rain though, finding a roof isn’t enough because the rain is almost completely horizontal thanks to a steady onshore wind, which has been increasing in force ever since we arrived.

The first night we ate dinner at Casa Iguana with the owner’s brother, who is currently involved in a sun-dried fruit project that might, if all goes well, one day be on the shelves of your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s market. We sat a while afterward drinking mojitos with Camilla, an English girl we met the day before when we were all stranded on Big Corn.

Still tired from a lack of sleep during the five-day party that was our wedding and the dog from the night before, we turned in early, this time with earplugs firmly in place.

However, we somehow ended up in the cabin with no window blinds and around midnight a pretty massive storm blew in with winds that howled and horizontal rain driving straight under our porch awning and lashing against the window. But that wasn’t what woke me up, it was the lightening flashes that turned night into day and somehow managed to burn through my closed eyelids that woke me up.

Lightening doesn’t especially bother me, I do after all live in Georgia where it’s a near daily occurrence in the summer. But as I lay there in bed watching the torrential rains and flaying palm trees in the eery white glow of distant flashes, it suddenly occurred to me that we were sleeping in metal-roofed hut pretty near the highest point on the island — basically a lightening rod with walls.

So I lay awake thinking that being killed by lightening on your honeymoon was exactly the sort of horribly cheesy and predictable plot line that life seems to love — up there with the super athlete contracts cancer, the day trader who suffers a heart attack on the first day of retirement and all the other things that Alanis Morrisette would say are ironic, but of course aren’t. They’re just strange coincidences. And I fear strange coincidences.

I lay awake for an hour or more considering safer places to be in the storm and didn’t really come up with anything since just about every building on the island has a metal roof. In the end I decided that being struck by lightening in my sleep would be somewhat better than the same while you’re awake so I drifted off again and woke up to windy, but sunny skies.


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