Travel day the easy way.
Managua Travel Blog› entry 11 of 37 › view all entries
Today is the day I head for the Corn Islands (Islas del Maiz), two small Nicaraguan islands about 60 miles off of the Caribbean coast. There are two ways to get there, the one stop flight from Managua that takes about 75 minutes. Or the land route consisting of a tortuous 9 hour bus ride over bad roads, follow by a boat down the Rio Escondido to the coast at Bluefields (5-7 hours). From there you can try to get the twice weekly ferry, a converted Sandinista gunboat to the islands, or find a willing freighter captain going that way. I thought about going to the islands the hard way and coming back the easy way just for the experience, but the round trip airfare was discounted $40 over the way times two.
I took a Paxeos shuttle from Granada to the Managua International Airport at 10:30am. It was a nice drive in an air conditioned vehicle with one other Nicaraguan gentleman, and a driver originally from Columbia. I certainly felt bad when we were stopped for speeding, and given a ticket, about halfway to the airport, but at least it was not me driving. In Nicaragua the conversation always turns to baseball, and everybody seems very informed and proud of their contrymen that have made the major leagues.
The Managua Airport is a very modern affair with a food court and several shops. I checked in at the small domestic terminal, and went to the international side to hang out for about 90 minutes. Some Nica fast food and a short internet session later I was hopping on La Costena Airline's flight to Bluefields. The plane was a vintage British-built Short 360, a twin prop high-wing plane that carries about 45 people. I love to fly, and this was my first prop-powered airline experience. There was occasional clouds along the way, but the view was very nice. I was actually surprised that the very wild eastern section of the country was less inpenetrable jungle, and more forests and swamps cut by many rivers.
The flight stopped in Bluefields for about 10 minutes. We just sat on the runway with the doors open until the passengers left, and then boarded. The breeze from the sea was strong and heavenly, and it belied my hopes for the islands bieng comfy and breezy as well. The flight the Corn Island was short, and before long we landed on the 10 square km island and pulled up to the tiny terminal.
The luggage procedure was simple, pull it off of the plane, roll up the cart, claim your bag. I got a taxi driver and had him take me to the Nautilus Dive Center. I had been in email contact with the place, and figured I could dive there and they could set me up in a hotel. Regine at the dive center suggested a few places, and I chose the least expensive of the places with internet and A/C.
Hotel Paraiso is very nice, but the location leaves something to be desired. It is positioned with it's own little hunk of beach, but it is also at the end of maybe the worst road on the island. It takes a 8-10 minute walk to get to the road to get a taxi into Brig Bay, the biggest settlement on the island. Fortunately they have a nice restaurant and beach bar on the property, but things are a bit overpriced.
I love the place, but the internet service leaves something to be desired. When the weak signal does reach my cabina, it is still impossible to do certain things on the two web sites I want to access, Yahoo! for email, and TravBuddy for updating the blog. Well, at least I can follow the Milwaukee Brewers baseball scores, and I've been able to update the iPod.
I kicked on the A/C, the best thing about the cabin, and relaxed for the rest of the night. I did emerge to grab a bite at the restaurant. I had been warned about the commonplace hour wait after ordering food, but was pleased to wait only about 30 minutes for mine. I then hit the sack for some rest.