This time last year, dropping off to sleep in our London flat, I was conjuring up an image of a dream life: a little house on a beach somewhere exotic, Jess & Otto playing with local kids and us feeling a little bit like we were a part of the place, like we belonged. It's taken a while but we've finally found that place.
We both agreed we'd travel differently now we had the kids: we'd have a base, rent somewhere for a couple of months, explore on day trips, not backpack from hostel to hostel trying not to miss any Lonely Planet highlights.
Instead we fell quickly into our old travelling habits: three nights here, two nights there, packing, unpacking, repacking, constantly looking for the next place to visit. We've done some things differently for sure, no more 16 hour bus rides from hell. The longest we attempt now on a bus is about 5 hours. We’ve often stayed overnight in random hotels in nondescript towns just to break up a long bus journey. Also the six day treks up mountains or through jungles is pretty much abandoned with a 2 & 4 year old in tow, but we've moved around a lot and hadn't quite hit that dream until we got here: Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Big Corn was stunning, and possibly even has the better beaches of the two islands, but now we've found our 'Cool Spot’ (the name of the cabins where we're staying; I'm not attempting to be hip!). We are three strides from the sea, just three steps (well ten for my wee legs) over the white sand to plunge into the turquoise, gin clear, Caribbean sea. We have our own kitchen where you can watch the waves whilst washing up!
We've walked pretty much the whole island and found every variety of beach here, calm swimming beaches with pontoons next to great cafés, wild remote beaches thrashed by big waves, snorkelling beaches with reefs populated by sharks and stingrays, even a beach called Otto beach! And all of them no more than 40minute slow stroll from our beach shack.
Okay somethings aren't perfect (we left the kids shoes out overnight to find them taken this morning: an absence of shoes marked by the mysterious sand print where they had weathered last night's storm before being taken) but with no roads on the island you can barefoot stroll everywhere anyway. And besides, they had both outgrown them, we have new ones in Managua (we hope) and they are probably already gracing the much appreciative feet of a couple of local kids much worse off than our two.
It helps that English (Creole) is widely spoken here, so Jess & Otto can often chat with the children, but even when the children only speak Spanish, our two are finding it easier to interact now than ever before and will happily run around the village for an hour or so with their new friends. Jess has gained some notoriety from the older local boys for her ability to dive down to the seabed beneath the pontoon (around 2metres deep), getting shouts of (imagine an awesome Caribbean accent) “look a them baby man, I respec’ that baby man, she swim good”.
My culinary concoctions continue thanks to our kitchen (well sink and two gas burners). Last night I managed to cook - by head torch alone - a homemade mango chutney (with mangoes we'd foraged on our way back from the beach) to go with the usual chicken and rice. To clarify, I was using the head torch to see, not attempting to cook the mangoes on the head torch, I used the burners for the cooking bit.
It's cheap here too, which is just as well as there is no bank or ATM on the island so if you run out of cash you have to day trip to the Big Island. We pay $20US for our beach side cabin and with foraging and cooking our own meals we could get by on less than $10 a day if we needed to (even with a couple of beers thrown in). However, we often find ourselves splurging for a delicious cappuccino or cheeseburger in Tranquillo’s the beach cafe next to the swimming beach.
No signs of any hurricanes yet, although last night did see an almighty great thunder storm right on the island. The torrents of rain against the shack’s tin roof woke me and the booming claps of thunder set me nervously worrying about nearby trees. We survived it and it's much calmer today, although the onshore winds today are leaving me with a bit of a chill! I'm sat typing on our porch with a towel around my knees granny blanket style. The panga to the Big Island was even running again today and the island will no doubt have a new set of weary backpackers descending from the vomit inducing ferry from the mainland today. Despite having found our idyll, there are still two places more we want to see in Nicaragua and so many people have raved about Guatemala and Mexico that we still feel that urge to move. But we can wait another week…
Until then, we'll be enjoying our dream beach life albeit barefoot!
Loving the haircut Otto dude. Sounds like a fantastic place to stop and catch you breath. See y'all in a couple of months xx
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!