Friday, December 25, 2009
The hotel and the dive company did not have the deal that I came for. After showing them the email from the owner in the morning the deal was on. $300 for five nights stay and 10 dives which was a good deal. Diving was ok as the wind was reducing the visibility to 50 feet. Did not get to the better sites due to weather and went to the same 3 sites. Did have a good storm on the second morning which caused the visibility to less than 10 feet. My first dive for that day ended after 3 minutes as the conditions sucked. No diving was available for the next two days till the water cleared. Got to see all the sights of the 2k island on the first day. Even climbed the lighthouse tower for a view of the island. People and dogs were very friendly. Dogs on the mainland are skinny and afraid to be within kicking range. Went for some fresh coconut where I saw the locals collecting coconuts the day before. They were not there, but I came to a shack on the beach and asked the lady there about the coconuts. She woke her boy friend who got his pole to get the coconut. I got to carry the machete. I have gotten used to shaking hands with big guys carrying machetes. Was served coconut right off the tree and they were good. Liked the islands and the people there. Did need to change hotels when my deal ran out. Never stayed in a pink hotel before, it was the lobster hotel, but it was pink to me. Oh the fish and lobster dinners were the same price. Will let the dive pictures tell of the dive.
Love & Kisses
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
From El Castillo I took the slow boat for seven hour to San Juan del Norte. The trip through the jungle had trees full of monkeys and iguanas. Saw another croc but it´s head disappeared quickly under water. Loads of birds along the shores including some parrots. San Juan del Norte was a small fishing town that is known for being remote from everything. Waited a day and a half for a boat to the north.
There is now a boat from San Juan del Norte to Blue Fields. I did not know this when going down river to San Juan del Norte so I was happy I did not need to hitch a ride on fishing boat going north. It was a great boat that holds 20 people including the 4 person crew. With two 250HP Yamaha engines in the back, it could fly across the water. The crew looked a bit rough with the big guy watching over everyone. If you seen the ad for New Zealand this was the boat they take you on for fun. The river heads straight into the ocean, with a good surf to cross getting out to the open sea. We flew over the waves and crashed down the other side. We headed out into the Caribbean with the coast miles away. There was a good bit of chop which cause the big guy and another crew to member to go up front to help keep the nose down as we bounced over the waves. I could count 4 or 5 seconds of weightlessness before we hit the bottom of the next wave. It was a carnival ride that would not stop. If you asked to get off everyone would laugh. If you became annoying the big guy would probably asked you to exit the boat after returning their life jacket. An hour into the trip, the big guy ask the pilot to stop for a minute, and then had the passengers pass back his rod (his words) to the pilot.It was just a 9mm automatic. And then we went on. We did stop to have our luggage searched at an army base. This is a main trade route for pharmaceutical entrepreneurs. Everyone is on the look out for bags washing up on shore with cash or pharmaceuticals. This does happen regularly from the stories as some entrepreneurs need to empty their boats before talking with authority unexpectedly. Much of the coastal towns infrastructure was built by pharmaceutical philanthropist and not the government, so they are not disliked.
In Blue fields I decide to take take the plane option to Corn Island, as the boat takes 6 hours and it is another bumpy ride. Walked in and got a plane ticket. Caught the afternoon flight and there took a hurried taxi ride to the dock. Caught the panga to Little Corn Island which was less than an hour long. I took the front for more fun on the ride and I was not disappointed. There was plenty of hard bounces that night. The waves were 8 to 10 feet. A couple from Canada felt safer in this boat as it was bigger. That was it was almost twice as long and made of fiberglass compared to the solid plastic from the morning. Rolling sideways down off the waves was fun as we had a cross wind as always. I was reminded of the movie line "We need a bigger boat".
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Caught a late afternoon boat to Sabola. A little town divided by a side river. Had a local tourist board member direct me to a hotel and offered a number of tour options. The hotel was at the book price of $5 and was ok so I took a room. Went out for a walk on the road out of town as I did not feel the need for a tour of the three streets in town. I was going for a view from the hill top. I was not disappointed as with the view over the endless jungle. Howler monkeys let me know they were there but did not show themselves. For dinner I choose a place with other customers eating. No menu, so I told them I was a vegiteriano which did not get a complete blank stare from the cook, but close. Explained no carne or pollo, but queso and huevos are ok. She asked a number of questions most of the time leaving while I tried to look them up in the phrase book. Over half the time I could not find the words she said in the book. I ended up with rice, eggs, tomato, beans and carrots. I was lucky. After I sat down at the table overlooking the road below I found out I was sitting next to the TV. The cooks daughter sat down 10 minutes after I arrived and sat 4 feet from the TV. Her grandmother showed up next and sat at my table. So I had company for dinner with comments each time the actors on the tela novela was doing it with someone they should not be doing it with. Everyone was seemed to be in a love triangle or more.
In the morning I hoped the boat for El Castillo. People did not look at me fun when I said the name of the town (Thanks Gladys). The trip down river was on fast boat. So there was little wildlife compared to the day before. There were birds everywhere and saw what looked like a gator/croc head, but it went under as I was getting a better look. The night before the man offering tours offered a trip to capturing a small gator for pictures. El Castillo is a small town with cement and stone walkways everywhere through town. When the NGO offered to rebuild the fort the town had them put in a library and meeting hall in the main rooms of the fort. They had the museum be put in a new building. Good that the locals are are working the NGO for things they need.
So grab that glass of rum. This is the place that pirates movies are made about. So why is El Castillo there? The people of Granada did not appreciate (lift your glass) Captain Morgan and other pirates visiting their town and removing large amounts of the wealth. So they decided to build a fort on the rapids along the river that leads to the Caribbean. The fort was placed on the hill over looking the rapids where the boats would slow to maneuver past the rapids. The heroine of the town was a nineteen year old girl who's father the captain of the fort died in battle. She in her night gown took command and fired the shot that sank the British commanders boat. Then sent a flotilla of burning rafts that routed the rest of the British forces. Another time the Spanish just fled, when they returned after a few months the British had left the fort to the malaria mosquitoes. (Did I take my pill today). Most battles were hand to hand as over half of the fire arms were not functioning. And to add to the challenges the river had fresh water sharks that had a insatiable taste for any who enter the waters. One British commander at 22 though his expadition a success taking 200 men upriver and returning with 10 and he took the fort, but had to leave it due to illness and lack of men. Nelson pic is included was Britons more famest admirals.
For the boaters out there. The local tribe of natives use to only wear one piece of cloth for clothes. Their boats were called bongos and they were bonngueros as they paddle and poled the river. At night they would wear their cloth and during the day they would keep it rolled up under their seats as they paddled.
Picked a nice hotel restaurant for dinner, which resulting in the same meal as the night before.