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Published: June 25th 2015
Since we were leaving from Laguna de Apoyo we wanted to stock up on a couple things in Granada before hitting the road to Little Corn Island (LCI). We took the morning shuttle from the lake and tried to leave our bags at the hostel we stayed at in Granada, but they wouldn't let us. Instead Dan sat outside La Merced with the bags dealing with people asking for money while Ashley went to the store and bank machine. Since we chose the less (but not un-) travelled route over land and water, we stocked up on snacks including a re-realized favourite of bread, cream cheese, and cucumber.
From La Merced we walked through the sweltering heat to the Managua bus stop, which we located only on a map and really hoped was still there since printing. It was and we caught the next one out. It wasn't a long ride but we had a hard time keeping our eyes open for the duration. Once we made it to Managua we took a taxi to Mercado Ivan Montenegro (Terminal Costa Atlantica) for 200NIO (probably overpaid since it was a bus terminal taxi instead of a random street taxi). It was only about 1600hrs when we arrived and the bus wouldn't leave until 2100hrs. We chose the night bus because it was supposed to be safer and faster with only one stop on route, and it was only 20NIO more and cut out a night accommodation. When you buy your ticket, you can buy a ticket for the bus or a combo bus and boat ticket for the panga ride from El Rama to Bluefields. While, we were waiting, Dan wandered the market looking for red wine (a decision influenced by a blog title we saw once 'Red Wine Helps You Sleep On Trains', hoping the quality transferred to buses). He wasn't able to find any and the liquor store he stopped at told him nobody really drinks red wine. He was able to walk 10 minutes to a Maxi Pali (later discovered to be a Wal-Mart subsidiary) and splashed out on the most expensive bottle he could find for 165NIO (about 7.70CAD).
When the express night bus left, it turned out to be two buses. This turned out to be more exciting then a single bus because then they had someone to race around the twisty winding roads the whole way instead of just the next vehicle in front of them. We were able to sleep a little and woke up for the one stop and on arrival in El Rama for 0230hrs. We'd read the some drivers would let you stay on the bus until morning; but not ours. We followed everyone else to a waiting area in what seemed to be a hotel, where we traded our boat vouchers (bought with our express bus tickets) for boat tickets. Then another 2 hour wait for the boats to start loading at 0530hrs after the tedious bag inspections from disinterested military personnel.
The panga ride down the river was really calm and lasted about 2 hours. No matter how big a radius turn the boat took, Dan couldn't help but feel like he was in an action movie boat chase scene (specifically James Bond at the time, but 'The Italian Job' also came up later).
We did spend a night in Bluefields since we planned on being there a day before the ferry was scheduled to leave to make sure to catch it. We stayed at Doña Vero (on Ave Estrada between Cabezas St & Reyes St) which doesn't show up on google maps, but it was clean, cheap and safe. We heard there wasn't much to do in Bluefields, so we wandered around town finding a nice (but expensive) coffee shop on Calle Aberdeen. We went and had beers waterside at Flotante Bar at the end of Commercial Ave and ate supper at Pesca Frito. Everyone we met was pleasant and chatty and witnessed only one odd duck pull off his shirt and make like he was going to fight no one in particular. We had to buy our ticket for the ferry the morning of departure and with the overnight bus we were beat so we went to bed early and drained. The ferry to the Corn Islands wasn't anything special but we were glad to get a seat outside since the fresh air is better than being in the cabin. It took about 5 bumpy hours of ploughing through waves to reach Corn Island. A couple times waves came over the nose of the boat soaking people sitting right up front so being down the side was good.
On Corn Island we had to wait a little while for the panga to LCI since its timed with the flights. After another bumpy hour where our Panga's engine cut out a couple times, we got to Little Corn Island and walked up the hill to our hotel since there are no vehicles or beasts of labour on the island.
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