Nicaragua 2003-4

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    Well, the trip started out well. Just as the Mad Cow scare was hitting the news, my mother informed me that, once we get to Nicaragua, we should avoid any pork whatsoever. Apparently, there is some pork parasite much worse than trichina with which all Nicaraguan pigs were infected and that despite the apparent health of the local population, I would immediately die if I ate it. And oh, by the way, it doesn't matter how well the pork is cooked. So after meeting Max and Margaret at Max's house New Orleans we went to an Italian restaurant on St. Charles to feast before we went to Nicaragua, land of poison pigs.

    Max took the opportunity to eat his last serving of pork for two weeks and then we went back to his house to sleep a few hours, and drink a little more, before going to the airport. After deciding to get up at 4:30 so we would have plenty of time to get through the "red alert" security at the airport, we promptly went to bed around 11:00 after drinking a bottle of wine and playing some classic Atari games on the TV (yep you can actually still do that).

    I don't think Sherry or I got much sleep. It could have been the springy sofa bed with the bar directly under our backs or the half dozen cats roaming the apartment but it was probably our excitement at the day of travel before us. When the alarm went off on Saturday morning, we were all none the worse for lack of sleep as we set out to the airport, minus Margaret's tickets. Check in and security was a breeze and thanks to Max's sister Glenda, Margaret's tickets weren't very far behind us.

    We arrived at Miami at about 10:30 with a 4 hour or so layover, so we shopped a little, exchanged some cash, ate breakfast and then lunch, I got a haircut and then we caught the flight to Managua. Arrival at Managua was typical. My uncle Roger and his driver Carlos were waiting on us for the drive back to his house. Most houses in Managua that I have seen are fairly open to the outside air. Few have air conditioning and many actually have open sections of the roof in the living area directly above a place set up for plants as you can see in the photo below.

    We had decided before getting to Managua that we would go ahead and fly to Corn Island, off Nicaragua's southern Caribbean coast, on Sunday morning. So, making it two days of getting up before 5:00 a.m. to catch flights, we went to the airport to fly La Costeņa airlines. La Costeņa flies small turboprops with remarkably large windows.

La Costeņa fleet. Our plane is the big one.

        When we landed on Corn Island, we were immediately approached by Julian, a local "tour guide" who let us know that he could show us around and carry our luggage for about ten dollars. Since we were going to have to find a hotel during the Christmas season, we went ahead and let him carry Sherry's luggage to Hotel Club Paraiso where there was one room available. Tired from the 15 minute walk from the airport, we sat down at the bar and ordered some beers. The bartender/manager let us know that it would take a while to clean the room so we had a few more beers and watched the hilarity that ensued when the Hotel's pet monkey attacked a small girl.

Hotel Paraiso's pet attack monkey

    If you ever make it to Corn Island and are not scared of small monkeys, I can recommend the Hotel Club Paraiso. In December and January, you won't miss the lack of air conditioning, but there are air conditioned rooms for the warmer months. Corn Island's roads aren't all that great and there isn't much in the way of development. There are plenty of hotels and the best beach on the Island is at the Picnic Center. Just flag down a cab and ask him to take you to the Picnic Center.

Picnic Center Beach Panorama

    The Big Hut in the background of the photo above is a bar and restaurant which makes a trip to this beach very convenient.

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