“Meant to be tricky to get there mind, but what’s a prize without a fight?” Said idiot me, in my last post, on getting to the Corn Islands. The prize would still be a prize wouldn’t it? It would be a prize irrespective of the level of hassle and sleep deprivation required to obtain it. A prize is a prize. If we had the funds, we could have flown from Managua. We didn’t. So we took an overnight bus to a place called El Rama, which got there at 3am. We then hopped on an incredibly fast river taxi at 6am to Bluefields, which was where our wonderful ferry – HMS El Rio Escondido lay await for us. She bumped and swayed for 6 hours through the Caribbean swell until Great Corn Island swung into view, like an incredibly green carrot on a very uneven stick. During this six hour ‘cruise’ Catriona and I discovered we had very impressive constitutions, as everyone around us was reduced to vomiting wrecks. One poor sod was so ill he was just chucking up on himself by the end, too weak to make the deck or the toilet. Even locals, who I presume must make the commute from the mainland fairly frequently, were dropping like flies – hunched over the side like dirty laundry, providing a wealth of nutrients to the sea life below. But guess what, the prize was worth it! The Corn Islands are absolutely splendid.
Great Corn, which does not resemble anything to do with corn and is in fact a bastion of lobster fishing above all else, is the most relaxed of the two islands in that the locals aren’t really bothered by the tourism thing. Little Corn’s the place for all that, so they just get on with their lives while the most stunning tropical beaches and piercing blue sea lie around almost untouched. We explored the place and just couldn’t believe how undeveloped the place was. On Long Beach, which is actually pretty long, sat one little resort and a pier for the lobster boats. The rest of the coastline was just empty white sand and palm trees. We took a boat (that resembled a launch craft from Saving Private Ryan) to Little Corn and yes, it is more touristy, but yes, it is a little wild slice of paradise. There’s no traffic on this island, just tracks (some paved, some mud) between beaches and the village, and it’s so easy to climb over a headland to discover a cove entirely to yourself you can kid yourself you’re Robinson Crusoe for an afternoon.
I’ve spent the last few days snorkelling, today being particularly eventful as I came face to face with a shark. My mask had steamed up so I was doing the undignified ‘treading in water while spitting and rubbing the glass routine’ before popping them back on and dunking my head under. About 6 feet away a big old shark was swimming straight towards me (a reef shark I might add, about as dangerous as a sea cucumber – but sharks are sharks) at such a rate I almost provided a new brown eel to the local ecosystem. In my other endeavours I also cruised with some massive polka-dot stingrays and most excitingly, a few sea turtles. Back in Mexico we’d been to a turtle conservation project where we set loose dozens of tiny baby turtles into the ferment. Within seconds, seagulls were having an all-you-can-eat-buffet on the helpless tiddlers and I really thought these blighters didn’t stand a chance of survival. Well in the Corn Islands at least, a slither of them do make it, and they’re beautiful!
In other news, I took my first yoga class. Catriona’s a bit of a pro, having done the whole Eat, Pray, Love thing at an Indian ashram so I thought I’d streamline behind her while Jimmy, our tutor for the morning, took us through our paces. Thankfully he was low on the spiritual stuff and high on the practicalities of bending your vaguely hungover frame into poses from The Cirque Du Soleil. I admit I was a little sceptical but seriously had a blast. I reckon I could be a certified ‘yogi’ in no time at all. However, Catriona’s away right now doing yoga on a paddle board out in the sea, so I clearly have a few more downward facing dogs to go.
One week until our flights to Australia! One week until our flights to Australia! People to meet in LA, reunions already planned in Melbourne and a return to the world of working and living like real humans await. Before that, we have to get on the Rio Escondido back to the mainland – it’s enough to make you vomit.