Nicaragua: Little Corn Island

I had to adjust my expectations after arriving on Little Corn.  I was hoping for a beautiful vacation island where we could rest and recuperate from our torturous travel.  It was somewhat of a shock to arrive on a small island with no cars at all, just a little path around the island, some paved, most not.  Much of the island is forested, covered in trails and marked by sticks or stones.  Directions consist of “turn left at the baseball field and follow the fence to the orange trees…”  Twenty years ago the island was made up of only 4 families.  There are now about 1,000 people that live on the island full time, plus all the dive masters and instructors.  Once we got into the groove of the island; however, it was truly charming.

We didn’t DO all that much, which was kind of the point.  They joke on the boat over that they hope you brought your relaxing hat.  We mastered the skill.  It helps that the power goes out every day from 5am to 5pm…no lights, no internet, no refrigeration.  Besides reading, we did a good job eating…home of the $4 lobster tails.  We even met a couple from the Bay area with whom we shared a few double dates and several rum cocktails.

One of my personal goals for the trip was to become PADI certified for SCUBA diving early on so we could use it later during the trip.  Little Corn proved to be a great spot for us.  We checked in to the local dive center, got set up with a wonderful dive instructor, Michelle and assistant, Maya.  She put us on track to complete our class work and open water dives in a few days.

We both rocked the written test and confined skills portion of the certification.  I did have a weird moment of panic the first time I breathed under water—it’s just so far from what I’ve trained to do my whole life.  Nonetheless, our first open water dive was amazing.  As we descended in to the warm Caribbean water, we were directed to land on our knees in the sand.  Then the group of 6 started pointing at me…just as I was about to land, a nurse shark was swimming towards the group.  I hovered above as it displayed unusual amounts of curiosity (could have been Joshua’s bloody knee).  We were really getting the hang of the diving and then the weather started misbehaving…not the weather exactly, just the winds and the currents.

We had to abort our third dive due to the currents pulling us away from the boat.  And then we couldn’t dive for four days—that’s how long we ended up waiting, but we had no idea what the timeline was.  Every day we would check in to see if we could wrap up the certification—only two dives to go—which is just a morning!  The first day of freedom we used to check email and read.  It was nice.  The second day we explored the island.

The third we tried to decide if we should wait it out or leave.  The problem with diving is you can’t fly for 18 hours after SCUBA.  That meant we’d have to wait at least a day before heading out.  Then we were delayed again.  We laughed at (and with) other travelers on the island because we moved maybe 100 yards the whole fourth day…just following the shade.  The island is small enough that you know everyone, so we all just sat.  Joshua has never moved so slow in his life.

We decided to leave the following day on the BOAT, with or without the certification.  I never thought I would be dumb enough to get back on another one, but the delay in flying would eat some major travel time, plus flights were booked a few days out.  I guess the beautiful weather and major relaxation scrambled my memories from the boat ride TO the island.  The risk paid off.  Luckily, the winds calmed our last morning and we completed the necessary two dives just in time.  From now on, you can call us Laura and Joshua, PADI.

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