So happy I'm feeling better and I can start to enjoy this little corner of paradise! I stopped by the two diving centers on the island: they have the same prices and they seem to have both good reputation, maybe in a couple of days I'll be able to dive. Lunch at Cafe Desideri with Fish Carpaccio and nice chat with Sara, a yoga teacher that works there and tomorrow will give a class: the yoga trail is back!
Back to the cabana, our German neighbor cautch a huge red snapper just fishing off the beach, unbelievable, there's enough to feed all the guests and the family that runs the place! Elsa, the owner cooked it with garlic sauce, delicious.
Despite my lack of energy, fever and constant headache- I might have been bitten by some mean insect- I want to move to Little Corn Island. Since there's no ATM there we go to the bank first but again I can't change my travelers checks, so i would suggest the NY banker that recommended them to me to take a break from his desk and go and try himself.
At 10 we are on a completely full panga: make sure to show up at least an hour before to have a seat. There's no roof on the pangha so rain or shine is all on your head and we got them both! Luckily is just a 30 min ride.
There are no cars on Little Corn, only pedestrian paths thru town or thru vegetation but the island is pretty small so this is not a big unconvenience. After 10 min walk from the dock on the west side of the island at Elsa's we find a basic cabana right on the beach with ocean view and private bath for $20. The island tends to fill up so it wouldn't be a bad idea to book in advance just to be sure but i dont think these beach huts work much with Internet!
In the pm I had to visit the local clinic: there's no doctor on the island but just a nice nurse that took care of me giving me antibiotics for something that is still not clear to me but I guess it's ok because I felt better after!
Dinner at Cafe Desiderio, italian run place, in front of the ocean, wifi included, delicious food: Recommended!
1.5 hr flight with stop in Bluefield and at 8am we are at Big Corn Island. Taxi ride from airport is $1 pp, budget hotels are on the north side of island, we go there and find a $15 corner room w terrace in front of ocean at Beach View Hotel. Sounds good right? Unfortunately the place is a little run down, not that clean, with occasional drunk locals visiting guests on the common terrace. The area is a little sketchy too, and the Caribbean English spoken here is impossible to understand, I'd rather make an effort and speak Spanish.
The plan for the afternoon was to visit the south and more beautiful beaches but I started feeling sick and I have to spend the rest of the day in bed.
Dinner at the Fisher's Cave by the dock was good. Lobsters seem to be a very common ingredient here. Nice!
Breakfast at Borders Coffee in El Castillo, they are slow but their coffee and natural juices are pretty good and it's easy to meet other travelers and chat.
The fast boat back to San Carlos is much better than the previous slow one. I got the very last two seats thanks to smiling ; ) so early reservation recommended.
Pm spent at the Internet cafe by the dock, dinner at El Granadino was good, big, and lil pricey.
10pm bus back to Managua. They have paved the entire road recently so the trip is much better and faster than it used to be: we arrived at the Managua airport 3.45am, including two unnecessarily long stops at comedores and a military passport and bags check. Book your bus seats hrs in advance. Unfortunately these buses are not very comfy and suspensions are basically missing so sleeping is not easy.
The airport on the other end is nice and clean and we could have some rest before our flight to Big Corn at 6.30am.
Lancha in El Castillo at 6am, 45min ride on the river: we see toucans, big iguanas, monkeys, jungle and unfortunately also a highway that Costa Rica is building along its side of the river destroying the entire ecosystem. It made me nauseous, I could't believe it. Shame on them.
Indio Maiz was a great 3hr hike thru pure jungle and the rubber boots were indispensable along the muddy trail. Our guide was very knowledgable, he showed us all the medicine plants and trees: there's a remedy for everything in the jungle! Without rain it wouldn't be a rainforest right? So we also had our thunderstorm on the way back: thanks Dad for giving me the poncho before leaving Italy!
Once back at the Hotel we had another delicious meal and a lot of relaxing time on the hammock by the river.
5 am lancha to San Carlos with all the local people going to the market to sell or buy stuff. All lanchas to El Castillo are full until noon so we spend the morning online at the Internet cafe. Que gusto!
The lancha for El Castillo is skinny and long, and with the waves it moves a lot in all directions, torsion included, and we are basically seating under water level... This is when i'm grateful that my parents made me learn to swim very well! Along the way a luggage that was on top of the lancha fell in the water but we could turn around in time and pick it up. The interesting thing is that its local owner was really cool about that and he didn't look worry or annoyed at all! My seat neighbor on the lancha was Tina, a nice american woman who is writing a book about the year she spent with her 10 yo daughter with a tribe in Zinbawe. Very audacious I would say.
After 3hrs we are at El Castillo: a cute town built on stilts along Rio San Juan where they ride boats carved in tree trunks, some with engine. There's a fortress built by the spaniards in the 17th century as a defense from pirates.
We take a room literally on the river at Hotel Chinandegano, with private bath: $15 per night. This house is built on stilts directly on the water, shabby chic, as the Lonely Planet says, and their food is excellent! Recommended.
Tomorrow: trip to Indio Maiz, a natural reserve down the river, $13 per person, we are 7 and we have a guide. We rented rubber boots, I loved mine and went for a walk to town with them!
Great yoga on the house deck and then laundry in the lake: so refreshing and pleasant! After a failed attempt to get wifi at the local library the destination is Catalanica, a hotel 1hr jungle hike away where Carmen, the Spanish owner of our house, is making us paella for lunch: not to be missed! The refreshing dive in the lake from the hotel dock is the perfect appetizer and the meal is worth the hike. Nap on the hammocks and then coffee with homemade chocolate cake, I mean made with the toasted cacao seeds grown in their backyard! Recommended.
The hike back is easier and shorter, as it often feels. Finally wifi is working, maybe because it's sunny ;)
Dinner was ordered earlier at the comedor of Hotel Mancarron, and the pleasant surprise is a candle lit, elegant, 3 course meal, banana flambé included! $8 each
Full moon is gorgeous and bright on the village dock, and the multitude of huge frogs jumping around town seem to know that a well...btw they freak me out! I don't care about spiders, snakes, tarantulas or Iguanas but please no frogs!! : s
_I woke up at 5am and i just couldn't sleep: a lot of thoughts running in my head, typical of when full moon is approaching. The lake was as flat as a table, not a breath of wind, light gray sky. Surreal.
Later I discovered a strange phenomenon: apparently when it's cloudy in Isla San Fernando wifi doesn't work. This is the explanation that several serious locals gave me today when I tried few times to reset the connection...so bizarre!
Then i went for a walk along the shore and I discovered that Sunday is bath day here in Solentiname, especially for males: kids and adults are all in the lake semi naked and full of soap... I felt i was intruding their privacy : s
Early pm ride to Isla Mancarron on a private lancha for $15 and almost forgot camera and laptop in the hotel. The new island is the main one of the archipelago and Sunday is baseball day: everybody is having a good time at the local game, dancing and eating. Actually it's the first time that I see locals partying: so far Nica people seem to be more quiet than the other central America neighbors.
We found a great room at Viacom, a new albergue just right of the dock. We have the whole house and deck all for ourselves: there are only 4 tourists on the island including us.
When we arrive at the comedor for dinner we get informed that we should have ordered it in advance and they have nothing for us to eat, anywhere in the island... Moments of panic... Then reason comes back to me and we end up basically buying goods out of their pantry! Cans of tuna and peas and an onion made our dinner.
Note: every day we encounter a lot of wildlife, take a look at the picture page!
I woke up nice and fresh at 6.30am: it's easy to adjust to the rhythms of Nature without the city distractions. Yoga on the dock was peaceful and quiet. Lovely surprise: birthday flowers back in the room, thanks Robbert.
While canoeing around the islands nearby we saw more howler monkeys; a big fat spider fell on the canoe and went under my seat..haaa!! Pit stop on land to get it out and then nice swim in the lake. Note: The water is not as clear and blue as the lonely planet says but still clean and worthwhile.
In the afternoon i enjoyed the bday wishes online (thanks friends!) and a walk to the local museum, where the history of the island is shown along with beautiful local paintings. I also met few artists along the way that were painting on their porch in the lovely sunset. Sweet life.
_Somehow I managed to survive this 9 hrs ferry to San Carlos and at sunrise I'm having a nice breakfast in front of the lake. The boat to Solentiname Islands is at 1pm so i spend the entire morning checking out the local market and all the stuff they sell here. Nivea Sun block is super expensive (about $15): locals don't use it so it's considered a "tourist" thing like a souvenir! They also don't know what floss is and why such a thing should exist!
The boat left about 1 hour late (obvious) because it wasn't full enough at 1pm but that's how it works here. Destination: Isla San Fernando, Archipelago Solentiname. We stay at Albergue Celentiname, which is located right on the water, surrounded by beautiful flowers and vegetation. Very tranquil and soothing. $25 per person, room with bath, lake view, hummingbirds and all meals included. The owner is a painter and does pretty landscapes that remind me of Rousseau, which I like a lot.
After the long journey I had the best shower of the trip and I finally could do some laundry and put stuff to dry.
Fresh local fish for dinner and then straight to bed: I was so tired I think i was sleeping at 8.30pm!