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Current Location: Restarurant Mini Central, Bluefields, Nicaragua

02.28.11

Cost of beer in a bar: US$0.91 for a cold 350 ml bottle of Tona
Song currently stuck in my head: It’s Not Meant To Be (Tame Impala)

We’re now working off a few weeks of offset, so don’t be confused that the publish dates on these posts don’t match the dates they come out. I’d been looking forward to enacting something like this and my time away from elsewhere seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We arrived on Big Corn last Wednesday and found Chester’s place a day later. We’ve been staying here ever since. Chester’s brother, Dorsey Campbell, is listed in a few guidebooks for his services (snorkel and fishing guide) and his two idyllic guesthouses (kitchen, private bath, modest, amazing view, US$10/night). Both of those houses were taken but the renters suggested we talk to Chester, who put us in a large, clean room with two large comfortable beds, AC and a private bath for US$25/night with 2 or more night’s stay. Chester’s wife prepares meals upon request (breakfast is especially good, confusingly tasty eggs and gallo pintos with coconut bread) and even though cooking in would save us a lot of money, fuck it, for these two weeks we’re on vacation. We’re over on the windy, quiet side of the island and we’ve got a nice mix of locals, transplants and visitors to socialize with. The residents over here complain about criminals bothering the tourists on the bad parts of the island, which are all the way on the other side, about 4 minutes by taxi. The higher end resorts are clustered in that area, near what passes for town and close to a stereotypically idyllic strip of white Caribbean sand stretching far out into turquoise water.

On this side we’ve done a bit of snorkeling using Dorsey as a guide (he comes highly recommended). The reef is swimmable from shore and a fair amount of life calls it home. The Eagle Rays were especially impressive and I also spotted what I think is my first Lion Fish in the wild. These are an invasive Asian species with a bounty in some places and public service posters throughout coastal Honduras instructing you on how to remove the poisonous spines and cook them up. I’d seen quite a few of them dead in jars at dive centers (they make a point of killing them whenever possible) but they look much more impressive in the wild with their spines spread. I have yet to find a restaurant serving them.

These islands are the first place we’ve been in a long while where eating out is much more expensive than cooking. In Esteli, San Juan del Sur and Utila a plate of food could be bought for basically the cost of ingredients plus US$1 or less. Here we paid about US$5.50 for a plate of spaghetti. While ingredients do cost more out here (do to the remoteness of the islands), they don’t come anywhere near that price. Breakfast is usually about US$3 to US$4 and dinner is usually about US$5 to US$7, and that’s on the low side. The menus are packed with items in the US$9 to US$13 range. Here are some menus.

The grass here on little corn reminds me of aerial shots of craggy Scottish landscapes; the kind of grass on which golf was invented. It’s low, flat and lush but apparently grows outward rather than upward.

Tomorrow we plan to head out to Little Corn Island, a trip David Foster Wallace might rightfully refer to as “getting away from pretty much already being away from it all”, had he not gone the Heming way. Afters hours of road to Managua, about an hour of air to Bluefields and 5.5 hours of nausea inducing sea to Big Corn, it’s the last 30 minutes that everyone voices apprehension about. The quick, choppy panga ride to the smaller island is said to be what keeps hordes of tourists at bay, literally, leaving the smaller island to the truly adventurous. This is complete bullshit, of course, and spewed by a source quickly becoming known for dodgy info. We haven’t been able to lock in a reservation because the small island is seemingly overrun with vacationers; full pangas departing daily. Scott Day, a voice I never ignore with regard to any matters of travel, dropped a line to recommend Casa Iguana who still might be able to put us up for a few days.

Speaking of showing up without reservations, back when I was fresh out of college I moved out to a Midwestern city to begin employment as part of a trainee class. Throughout our 6 week orientation the entire class was told, repeatedly, that we needed to learn to deal with ambiguity better. This was entirely disingenuous, a transparent attempt to re-contextualize their own inability to construct even the vague outline of a program as our own shortcoming. But either way, I’m in Latin America and you don’t get any more ambiguous than that. Things you read, like menus and bus schedules, aren’t true. Things you’re told, like all the things you’re told, aren’t true. When the ATM booth has a sticker that says “PLUS” and the ATM itself promises to be part of the PLUS network on it’s greetings screen, don’t be fooled. It’s not. Errors aplenty await. And I deal well with this. In fact, I voluntarily drop myself in the middle of it. So suck it, IT Management Trainee Program for a once prominent but now non-existent regional bank.

Yeah, I hold grudges.

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2 Responses to “Current Location: Restarurant Mini Central, Bluefields, Nicaragua”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    Please clarify:
    Are confusingly tasty eggs scattered throughout a labyrinth, or are they surprisingly tasty?
    Gone the Heming way – Is that a pun?

    • cgearhart Says:

      Not just surprising, but confusing. It’s the same ingredients that I’ve seen on my plate a million times on this trip, but suddenly they taste much more savory. I can’t figure it out.

      It is a pun, but it’s not mine. I have to credit Nick Cave on that one.


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