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.


Price of beer in a bar: US$1.74/liter advertised credibly
Song currently stuck in my head: Romantic Rights (Death From Above 1976) (The Phone Lovers remix)

After spending a week at Pelican Eyes anything else can seem a little drab.  I’m sitting in the restaurant behind which we’ve rented a room for the next few days.  I’ve trained a fan directly on me from two feet away to keep the flies at bay.  My internet connection moves at the speed of Morse code in the hands of untrained operators.  Years ago I read a guidebook, probably LP, that described this town in such stark terms you’d think it shot the author’s dog.  “Dreary, rainy, damp, depressing din of country western music…” it’s amazing they even bothered to include it.  Obviously my first thought was “I have to see this for myself”.  Now, years later, I’m staring at it and I’m not sure what to make of what I see.  There are only a few white people around, but that’s still far more than I’d been led to believe.  Though the seldom objective LP rhetoric has softened in the subsequent years, most of the guidebooks still approach this town from a “if you get stuck there in transit, here’s how to make the best of it” perspective.

Just 2 days ago I had 250kBps downspeed, hot water, two large comfortable mattresses to choose from (each with an excess of clean, crisp linens) and a large kitchen equipped with a refrigerator with an ice maker in the door.  Visiting relatives of The Girlfriend’s decided to vacation amongst our Nicaraguan environs and played host for 8 days in their upscale rental casa, giving us a first hand look at the tourist experience in San Juan del Sur.  We toured a nature reserved, had screaming fights with monkeys, zip lined through the tree tops, hassled sea turtles (getting pictures of the eggs, laid in real time, is a rather invasive and almost proctological maneuver but one our certified guide assured us was reasonable) and lounged about at leisure.  I’ll have to wait for a final appraisal from the visitors; impressions voiced during the visit were mixed but largely positive.

From here we intend to boat out to The Corn Islands, a destination of which I’ve long dreamed but was previously dissuaded by the 15 hour bus ride to the 2 hour boat ride to here, still short of little corn by 2 boats, one of which runs far less than daily.  We flew here, opting to spend a few days in town rather than fly straight through.  Put another way, we took the fast way here and are taking the SLOW way further out, taking 4 days to travel a distance that would have taken 20 minutes in our plane.  Most of that is waiting.

I don’t have much hope for maintaining this uplink long enough to do what I want to do, which includes downloading Wait Wait (RSS), This American Life (RSS), Carolla (RSS), getting on top of some email and browsing a few favorite sites; the essentials for self-entertainment. So I’m going to keep this short.  There’s almost no chance of a picture going up on Wednesday, I think I’m out on the very edge of the infoverse here.