Corrinto – Jiquilillo

My dodgy Guatemalan drugs must have done something overnight as my knee was feeling much better come morning. I left my pack at the hostel and had a wander around town.

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Corinto goes down in history’s pages as the place where ex US President Ronald Reagan got busted big time for beyond dodgy interference in another country’s governance. Evidently the CIA (under Reagan’s directive) decided to mine Corinto’s harbour in 1984 as part of a scheme to aid US supported Contra rebels. The International Court of Justice called bullshit on the whole episode and ordered the US government to pay retribution to the Nicaraguan government for its interference. In true Reaganista arrogance, the court’s findings were rejected and no payments were ever made. Congress, however, decided enough was enough and refused to pass further military aid to the Contras. Not to be outdone, the Reagan administration then decided to illegally sell weapons to Iran and surreptitiously use the profits to aid the Contras. Thus started the CIA’s sweet little dalliance which became known as the Iran-Contra Affair. Needless to say, the good folk of the USA were far from pleased when details leaked and the whole operation was exposed.

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The Plaza Central was fairly buzzing last night with a shabby funfair down a couple of adjoining streets and vendors taking up most of the space in the plaza itself. Come morning, I saw why. The ship I had seen in port the previous evening was a cruise ship and passengers had just been let off for the day. Hawkers and pedicab drivers badgered anyone who obviously wasn’t a local which certainly took the edge off what seemed to be a pretty relaxed town to date. I also noticed extra security in the form of National Police on the streets; presumably to protect the punters. I had to cash up, so after a quick wander around, collected my pack from the hostel and caught a pedicab to the bus terminal.

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I had to return to Chinendega and then catch a collectivo to the mercadito from where the bus to Jiquilillo left from. Once there, I found I had to wait two hours for the next bus so found a small cafe in which to have something to eat and wait it out. This was one of those bain marie offerings where you chose what you would like and paid accordingly. I sat at a table on the sidewalk and watched the hustle and bustle take place around me. With about half an hour to go, I decided to wait on the sidewalk opposite where I was told the bus would arrive. A senor selling bags of tomatoes took interest in my sitting on the side of the road and made inquiries. Not satisfied with just finding out where I was going or even where I was from, he wanted to know if I was married and how old I was. Had a considered a Nicaraguan husband? Some things are better just politely laughed off.

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My bus eventually pulled up and people starting piling out. I decided to wait until it died down a bit before finding somewhere to put my pack and find a seat. My tomato Romeo came along to flog his wares to the punters and asked why I hadn’t found a seat yet. As I patiently waited, I began to see the error of this strategy as the bus continued to fill until there was no room for me to move even if I wanted to. As I was moved down the aisle with the rest of the standing senors and senoras, an hombre took pity and helped me put my pack up on the rack. I then had to stand sardine style for the better part of an hour before being able to secure a seat. Well, I learned that lesson well!

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After about an hour, the bus turned down a rough dirt road and had to slow down considerably due to the many ruts and potholes. By now I had secured a sweet spot behind the driver so had a great view out the front window. We passed tiny pueblos, stopping regularly to pick up and drop off passengers and their goods. Eventually, we came to Jiquilillo which is basically one of three tiny beachside communities alongside a remote stretch of beach. I was watching out for the sign for the hostel I had chosen out of the guidebook, but the driver asked me where I was staying and pointed it out to me. Rancho Tranquil certainly lived up to its name as a quiet little property on its own private stretch of beach.

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I was just in time to grab a cerveza and wander down to where they were releasing baby turtles at sunset. This turtle rescue organisation did things very different to Surfing Turtle Lodge and I was dismayed to see the organiser encouraging other travelers to actually pick the turtles up and have photos taken with them! They then let the turtles waddle on the sand for a couple of metres, collected them back up and released them directly into the surf. I later googled correct protocol for release of these endangered creatures and this is certainly not how one does it to ensure greatest rate of survival. Still, I wasn’t about to interfere.

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I watched the sun set, then went back to the hostel for dinner. I hadn’t realised that this hostel was vegetarian only, but it was nice eating communal style with the other travelers staying there for the night. It appeared that I was the first Australian to stay at the hostel, so proudly stuck my pin in the map. Most travelers seem to come from the US or Europe as was the case on this occasion. It was lovely lying in bed in the dorm listening to the rumbling of the waves only a couple of hundred metres away. A very soothing way to enter one’s slumber.

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