One night in Managua

I had my favourite kind of travel day – uneventful, with frequent doses of wine. I landed in Managua around 19:30 and began the search for my hotel shuttle. It’s overwhelming when the custom doors open and you’re immediately accosted by taxis. Luckily, the driver from Hotel Europeo was right at the front.

Hotel Europeo was a Lonely Planet-endorsed find. My original plan was to take advantage of my one night in Managua by checking out a well-reviewed Peruvian restaurant, then take a shower and go to bed early, as my flight to the Corn Islands was at 6 am the next day.

Because I’m me, that’s not what happened.

I ended up making friends with some Hondurans at the hotel bar. One beer turned into more, which magically turned into a bottle of Nicaraguan rum and cigars. The kitchen was technically closed, but they managed to convince the woman running the place to make me a sandwich. Rather, a loose interpretation of a North American sandwich.

My driver was picking me up at 5 am. As that hour drew near, my new friends tried to convince me to forgo a day on Little Corn Island and go to Granada with them; they had intended to go back to Honduras on Friday but protestors were planning on blockading the roads – Honduras is still reeling from the effects of fraud in the recent election. My inner political nerd was fascinated to learn what was happening on the ground, where a number of people have died. Honduras has had actual coups with a lower death toll than this election. Another reason to be a grateful Canadian.

I assured them if I missed my plane to Little Corn, Granada was my back-up plan. To my shock, I managed to get up with my 4:30 am alarm and was actually early to meet the driver.

Still unknown: why pickles are the highest priority contraband item for La CosteƱa.

I made the plane to Corn Island (free rum on the plane, BTW), and shared a taxi from the airport to the pier with a trio of Dutch kids. They were the first of many I encountered; it appears that Canadians and the Dutch have the exclusive backpacking rights to Nicaragua.

I had some time to kill, so I grabbed breakfast at the spot near the pier. They’ve figured out tourist pricing, but I was in desperate need of coffee and carbs. Here I encountered the developing world’s favourite breakfast: warm banana sandwiches. I first encountered these in Indonesia; since then, I’ve recognized that nearly every semi-tropical developing nation takes pride in utilizing the banana to the fullest, if unconventional, extent.

The pier on Corn Island

There are two ways to get to Little Corn: a panga (small, wooden open-air boat) or a bigger boat. The panga takes about 20-25 minutes, costs US$5 and is relatively painless. The big boat costs US$20 (basically extortion – it goes when the seas are too rough for the little boat), takes 2.5 – 3 hours, and causes everyone to get sea sick. The weather on Little Corn hasn’t been great; last week, no boats ran for three or four days. Everyone I met who had experienced the big boat had a horror story, so I am eternally grateful I ended up in the panga.

Crammed into the panga. Not pictured: the elderly women who is not impressed I’m sitting on her lap.

I’ll save the arrival on Little Corn for the next post. Let the island adventure begin!

Lessons of the day:

  • Must learn moderation when drinking before early morning flights (highly unlikely)
  • If not in North America, “stuffed French toast” probably means warm banana sandwich