Let’s go back a few months before.. We are the 17th of May and one day before we leave Huaraz in Peru to start our trek in Huyahuash Cordillera, we found out that the car rental agency from Salta in Argentina took around 800 Euros on our credit card.
I am sure you will reminber when we stop in Salta for a few days, rent a car and drove around Salta. We had to clean it before giving back otherwise they will charge you a fair bit of money…
We had to block the card, Visa provides us with cash and a temporary card but our french bank was unable to send it to us directly. Thanks to Caroline’s father (thank you Joel) the card got send via the french post office to Costa Rica in San Jose.
When we arrived in San Jose a few days ago, we were supposed to pick up the card at the post office. But when the frenchs say 10 days for the card to arrive in Costa Rica, the Costa Rica says at least 15 days.
We spend 3 days in San Jose but nothing… No card… and we couldn’t wait longer. So we decided to move to Nicaragua where the cost of traveling is much more within our budget (i.e Costa Rica is quite expensive).
A week later, we complete our trip around San Juan del Sur.. Therefore we were asking ourselves.. Where do we go next as we know we will have to come back to San Jose? If we come back to late and the card has arrived already, will the post office keep it?
Not to mention that the credit card sent from France and supposed to arrive within 10 days in Costa Rica didn’t arrive but that the 5kg packet of trekking clothes we send back to France using the slowest and cheapest way arrived in France within 15 days while the Costa Rica post office told us it will take 3 months… What to say?
Isla Ometepe, Granada or Corn Island are the three next destination.. Which one should we go? Isla Ometepe is a 3 to 4 days trip, Granada 2 to 3 days while Corn Islands require at least one week and half…
Maybe in two weeks the card will be arrived.. Will the Costa Rica post office keep it if we are not in San Jose? Should we just go for a few more days and then go back to San Jose hoping the card arrived?
We finally took the decision to go to Corn Islands, these famous lost islands 70 km away from the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.
To go there, two choices… Etheir the plane from Managua, one and half hour of flight or the local way which should take us around 24 hours… but which is a good experience especially around the Rio Escondido.
But before talking about Corn Island, we are going to describe you the epic journey.
Below is the map. The red mark is the start in San Juan del Sur while the green mark is the end of our journey in Big Corn Island.
We left San Juan del Sur around 3.30pm with a local bus to reach Managua. There we met two Australian from Sydney that were going to stop in Granada.
We arrived in Managua at 6.30pm, so 3 hours of bus of a total cost of 2.8$ per person.
In order to change to a different bus terminal, we had to bargain with the local taxis who wanted us to pay the tourist price.. No way, finally we got the ride for 50 Cordobas each, around 2$/person.
Half an hour later we arrive at our new bus terminal where we wait until 8.45pm to catch our night bus to El Rama. We buy there a combo bus to El Rama + boat to Bluefield for 410 C$ each so 16.5$ / person.
Tonight the first bus is already full. But luckly a second one arrives, empty.
In this bus we don’t have an allocated spot but we are told to go as much as we can toward the rear of the bus. We first don’t understand why… At 8.50pm, the bus leaves finally the terminal but stops 5 min later in another terminal where more people come in. Now we understand.. But they all come with a seat number and some of them can’t seat as the spot is occupied by someone.. Some discussions start in the bus… At the same time, more and more luggage come in, even some oil drums that will end up at the back of the bus and on top of which some people will sit. Outside, during half and hour three people are trying to fit in the baggage hold a crate that everyone can see it can’t fit. But they try, cut it, remove some pieces of wood, and finally get it in. That is it. At 9.45 pm (so one hour later) we are leaving for good Managua. The bus is more than full.
At 3am, the bus stops in a village to pull out the crate. I guess they wait for someone to pick it up but no one comes. They wait half and hour, and we finally leave the place (still with the crate).
Finally, we arrive in El Rama at 4am. We are not in a good shape.. We confirm our boat ticket (the one we bought along with the bus in Managua) and then wait until 5.45am when we go down at the jetty. Everyone has a boat number (we have number three) and after having our bags searched by the army, we embark on our boat.
This morning there are 4 boats ready to go which transport up to 16 people plus the captain. We are on boat number 3 (the one without roof…) which will leave last. Indeed, our captain is late and doesn’t look awake when he finally arrives.
On the boat, bags and oil drums are loaded at the front, while we try to fit in the middle of the boat. The captain (still not awake) waits for everyone to wear on their lifejacket before leaving the pier.
6am and we are finally gone for two hours of boat riding on the Escondido River to reach Bluefield which is located at the mouth of the Escondido with the Atlantic Ocean. During these two hours, we had a bit of rain which will wake us up (there is no roof). But they are so organised that within seconds, a plastic sheet is already above our heads. Only the captain, standing at the back of the boat, challenges the rain.
Two hours later, at 8am exactly we arrive in Bluefield, where we speed up to buy our boat ticket to reach Big Corn Island.
Bluefield is the starting point to reach Corn Island. Once in the boat, we attend an organised mess where thousand of people come in and out of the boat with bags, fruits, crate of food and sodas.. The pier is full and it is almost impossible to see through the people. Some huge speakers are loaded on the boat (do they plan to switch them on during the trip?)
On our side, it is 8.20am and we managed to buy our boat ticket (225$C/pers equivalent to 9$US/person), find the boat, put our bags in the baggage hold and finally unearth a spot in the boat to sit down with the aircon.
Caro went out of the boat only to come back with a great breakfast made of chicken, rice and vegetables. We were so hungry…
Finally at 9.17am, the boat leaves the pier. We do a stop at Bluff harbour still in the mouth of the river to take more people and more load. But after this stop, we take the sea.
Unfortunately, as we go further from the coast, the sea is getting bigger (but not huge thought) and people are getting sick. You could go outside on the main-deck but only to get wet or stay inside and breath the vomit smell. It’s your choice..On top of this, the air condition was leaking on top of our heads… We stop it but it starts to be quite hot inside (plus the vomit smell), so we restart it and put on our rain coat…
After 5 hours we finally arrive at Big Corn Island… We arrive alive and not sick.
To summarize, 23 hours of travel to reach Big Corn Island from San Juan del Sur. A total cost of 30 US$, 436 km onby buses and 176km on a boat (95km from El Rama to Bluefield and 81km from Bluefield to Big Corn Island).
The other option (the plane) last 1 hour and half from Managua and cost around 90 US$. That means that we have done a saving of 60 $US which is equivalent to a bit more than the budget of two days of travel for each of us.
Below is a short video which intents to show you the 24 hours travel to reach Corn Island. However, it really shows you the last 8 hours as I didn’t feel comfortable to take some movie in the bus…
Blog you soon from Big Corn Island.