The Panga to Home

Bye to Little Corn

Our last days on Little Corn Island were both relaxing and at times, busy. Dave had gone to Managua to work on his Nicaraguan residency application and he asked us to keep an eye on his place and to water the veggies.

We were also looking into our options for accommodation if we ever returned to the island with our family. In the end there were a few choices that might work but we’d have to do a lot more planning involving the family. Having spent a lot of time on the east side of the island, that would be our first choice so now at least we have the info. Prices for a complete house that would accommodate up to 7 people range from $145 to $335 per day. Hmmm…


And the relaxing part? We got pretty good at that.
So, the day came to leave… A somewhat familiar feeling after nearly 3 1/2 months of travel in Nicaragua. Bodi helped us get our backpacks to the panga side of the island – we thanked him for a great stay. (“Troy’s Place” is really a great place to stay if you’re into cooking, hot showers and a quiet, private refuge).

Getting ready for the panga:

At the panga, we were early birds so we had a bench seat watching the crew and passengers slowly gather. We met some nice people from England who asked us about our stay and they were really interested in our little island stories. We were really happy to share them.

Smooth

The panga ride shall go down in the annals as the SMOOTHEST ride we could have hoped for. However, due to the fact that the folks on the port side had consumed too many Tonas and hamburgers at the Lighthouse, the panga listed that way. Good thing it wasn’t rough! And, yes, we felt a tinge of sadness as we pulled away from the dock. Lots of memories, lots of good times…

Return to Villy’s

And now, our time on Big Corn Island is almost up. We’ve really chilled at our little haven – Villy’s Cottages. It is ultra quiet here, a pristine white sand beach is 2 minutes walk away, the cottage has a really cool little kitchen (that we used a lot!), beds are comfy, the place is spotlessly clean and… The wifi is fast and always on.

We highly recommend the place. Vilma and her husband Errol are consummate hosts. One evening, Vilma just showed up with a delicious plate of home made goodies. Wow!

The other thing they offer isn’t necessarily advertised or recognized. By staying here they are welcoming you to their family’s property and to a very ‘together’ community of “Islanders”. Priceless.

villycottage@yahoo.com

Freddy the Barber

We have been walking on the road and grassy pathways to the next neighbourhood – Sally Peachy. That’s where Freddy the Barber is located, just across the road from the Sally Peachy store. Which, by the way is definitely worth a visit. The owner Marlon has a unique stock of frozen meats that you won’t find anywhere else. And, on Sunday’s he sells his freshly smoked chicken. Whoa!
So back to Freddy.

Lovely guy and like most barbers, he liked to chat. He asked about our journey and quickly conceded how embarking on such a journey is impossible for most Nicaraguans. He appreciated how wonderful the trip must have been and admitted he’d love to do it but, “It would never happen”. And… Freddy is entrepreneurial. Besides his barber shop he and his family run a small ‘pulperia’ or store on the same property. And those are just the things we saw. Yes, tenemos suerte – we are lucky.

More pics on the way to Sally Peachy:

Reflections on the Islands

This feeds into some final thoughts about change on the Corn Islands. Development can be seen here, particularly on the little island. There, the local authorities are starting to control how much expansion takes place but in many respects, the damage is done.

Over the last decade, many properties have been sold to expats and developers. Houses have been built and the speculation treadmill increased in speed. The end result has been exactly why I didn’t feel comfortable 12 years ago when given the opportunity to buy property. I saw it as land that belonged to the islanders -not people from other countries wishing to make a profit over time or to settle on, potentially expropriating future generations of local islanders.

The Long Ride Home

This afternoon we’ll be flying to Managua – the first of a multi-day trip to get back to Central British Columbia. We love to travel and now, we just have to go with the flow with three more flights to get home from Managua. We ARE really looking forward to being home. This will probably be the final installment of our Nica Adventure blog.

It’s been an incredible tour

This trip has been a unique experience for us. For the last 12 years, our travel has typically revolved around our bicycles.

After last year’s cycle crossing of North America, we made a decision to re-visit our Nicaraguan memories and to make new ones this winter. We’re VERY happy we did.

Nicaragua is a fascinating country with an equally intriguing history and some of the nicest people on the planet. With the incredible transit system in this country, our bikes would have just been excess baggage and at times, in the way.

We will be back riding when we get home and we’re already talking about a summer bike trip in BC. Can’t resist. After years of touring on a bike, BC is way up the list of ‘best places’. And, we’re seriously considering Cuba as a cycling destination next winter. Gotta keep going with those Spanish lessons!

Thanks

Lastly, we’re thankful to you for following along… We’re also grateful for all the people who opened the doors to friendship during this journey. Looking back through the blog, we have made many, many friends and we have felt the love they gave so freely. Each stop along the way offered a new opportunity to bridge the gap between cultures and countries. I guess that’s one of the main reasons we travel. At home we are blessed with a huge circle of friends and when we travel, the circle just gets bigger!

Final Thought

We’ll leave you with a few more pics and a special song from a very special person – Alex Cuba. We listened to this song many times during the trip and it has become one of those tunes that will enhance the upcoming memories. It wasn’t until after our Spanish lessons we totally understood the title… ‘Contigo’. con = with and tigo = a version of ‘you’. ‘With you’. We know we couldn’t do this alone. Sharing the experiences with each other is key. These adventures are best… with you.

Alex Cuba – Contigo

Moving to Troy’s Place

Leaving Ensuenos

It was fun lighting the wood fire every morning at Ensuenos. Wood fire? You bet, to make coffee!

We enjoyed our last morning coffee at Ramone’s funky paradise watching the high winds stir up the ocean. We had arranged for a water taxi to take us south down the east side of Little Corn Island to Cocal beach – our next home. With the winds, we wondered how the ride would pan out. It was just fine. Our teenage Captain even gave us a chunk of clear plastic so we didn’t get too wet from the spray!

An Airbnb Haven

We arrived at Troy’s Place just north of Carlito’s cabanas. Our house was waiting and we once inside, we realized we we’re in relative luxury.

The keeper was the HOT shower which works when the power is on. Power on? It’s like this… The island has it’s own generator and every day at 6:00AM it shuts off. It doesn’t come back on until 1:00PM. We’re not sure why this is but we, like everyone here, learn to live with it. Anyway, we’ve REALLY enjoyed the kitchen and the fantastic location – on the beach looking out to the wide open Caribbean.

The past 10 days has been a process of acclimatization as we became part of the community again. There have been more reunions – like the morning coffee with Paola and Bing at Farm Peace and Love.

And… with Miss Bridget at her restaurant. In all cases, our old friends remembered us and recalled the “good times”.

We’ve come to the conclusion yes, the island has changed but it is still a special place appreciated by all who come here. Yes, the numbers of tourists and expat residents has increased but so far, it’s working.

Part time residents have found a way to integrate with the community, the result being more business for the local shop owners and businesses.

The increase in tourist traffic has also generated a significant increase in hostels, small hotels, beach casitas and dive shops.

Our Buddy Dave

With just under a week left on the island, we’re also spending time with our old friend Dave.

We’ve been taking turns cooking breakfasts and dinners with him while recalling over 45 years of friendship. He’s an amazing man. His full life’s story would be an incredible read.

Of Metis descent, his very early years were on a small farm outside of Winnipeg. In his late adolescence he found himself in England working various jobs around London and it wasn’t long after that we met him back in BC. Dave is a gifted potter and ceramic artist in his own right. We came to know Dave through another friendship with a highly regarded ceramic artist named David Thoresdahl. As teenagers, we loved hangin’ out with these crazy, worldly artists but after we married, we moved north and had minimal contact with them.

Years later, Dave appeared on our doorstep in Quesnel and for a long time we would see him at least once a year. He would come to stay with us every summer and he became our most cherished house guest. Dinner was cooked, house was clean and the garden was weed-free.

As a first-aid guy in the oil patch in Northern Alberta over the years, he saved up some money. His lifelong dream of living on the Central American Continental Shelf was soon to become a reality. After we returned from Little Corn in 2003, we told Dave about this special place and without much hesitation he made his way down and ultimately bought a piece of property – now home to his “Egg House”.

Over the years, we’ve come to appreciate Dave’s eccentricities realizing he’s a special person who is on a different path – uniquely his own.

Wisconsin Neighbours

We’ve also made some new friends. Mitch, Hope and Sam are three young world travellers from Wisconsin.

They’ve adopted us and since our time at Ensuenos, we’ve been sharing stories of our travels and life ‘back home’. Their Central American journey has been far-reaching. They’ve spent time in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. They’re also wonderful conversationalists – recently, they came over to our place and we each made something for dinner.

We talked all evening and for sure, past our bedtime! In a few days their adventure continues in another part of the world. They’re “Woofers” – folks who don’t mind helping out on a farm and they’re off to a rural area of Hawaii for some woofy work. Best of luck guys!

Reflections

We’re definitely starting to reflect more about our Nicaraguan adventure. What continually comes to mind is how fortunate we are to experience these types of journeys together. Many aren’t so lucky. So, we’ll continue to enjoy every minute of every day the best way we know how… In the moment.

In this shot above, Bodi on the board stopped and picked up the young boy and put him on his shoulders!