After one bus transfer, we jumped off in El Rama just in time to miss the panga (little boat) leaving for Bluefields. That meant we had to wait until the next one filled up.
There are no schedules, just demand. Once 20 people expressed interest in traveling to Bluefields-a boat would leave. Ours was small, packed and driven by the most disinterested driver.
He did anything but pay attention to where he was going: scratch his butt, check out the floor, make phone calls. So, when he hit something in the river and our boat started to flood with water and sink, it wasn’t as much unexpected as it was unfortunate. We made it to the side of the river and yelled at the people up front to move it “mas rapido.” At this point, they weren’t standing in a foot of water, yet. We unloaded the people and the bags and sat.
Being at the back of the boat, Joshua was tasked with launching bags, backpacks, and luggage onto land.
Finally, another boat showed up to finish the 1.5 hour trip.
Our second leg of the same trip was beautiful…confident driver, incredible sunset, quick.
In the guidebook I had read that you never want to hand your bag to anyone when getting out of a boat because they can either take it or it allows them to become your guide (which you then pay for). Joshua and I were unlucky enough to have our bag handed by the boat driver to one of these helpers, “Spicer.” We had no choice. I refused to let him help, instead asking the port authorities…but he was relentless, telling us about Bluefields and asking what we needed. Finally, we gave in. We told him we needed to get a boat to Little Corn. He told us we had to hurry to get the last panga boat to El Bluff because there would be a ship at 2am for the Corn Islands—the last departure for an entire week. He asked for a ridiculous sum of money for this help. We gave him more than his 15 minute tour warranted.
At the dock for El Bluff we met a woman, Yelena, who lived on Big Corn Island. She was traveling with two VERY small children: a 5 month old, Alfredo and a 2 year old, Alicia. She seemed to think we could board the boat before the departure, avoiding the need for a hostel, and she would show us the way. We were thrilled to have her help and support. At this point we had been traveling since 5am, it was well after 6pm AND the boat we were waiting for wasn’t going to leave until after 2am.