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Trip Report Review of Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua.

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This review is for Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua which was the 2nd port of call on our Panama Canal cruise last month. Wow. It seems so long ago already though its only about 4 weks ago. First of all let me say we are not ones to go with ships tours. You can usually do better on your own. Well in this part of the world let me tell you its much harder to find a private tour guide vs. the Caribbean where there are many and contacting them is easy. Not so here. If you recall I posted that in our previous port, Guatemala, the country has a 40% literacy rate and 10% have www access. In Nicaragua these figures are less though I don't recall the exact numbers. Well after looking about I finally found a guy to give us a private tour. His name is Max and he makes most of his $$ from private fishing ventures and some from land tours. And what an interesting guy he is. He looks a bit like papa Hemmingway with a similar beard and face though he is a slimmer version. He has dual British/Canadian citizenship ahd is sort of an adventurous man of the world. Among other things he has done include working in labs testing stealth technology, running restaurants in several European locales, soloing across the Atlantic in his own 30 ft. boat and being boarded by pirates in the Indian Ocean. And he lived to tell about it. He also told us a story about a friend of his, another able seaman who was being pursued by pirates. Well he managed to set out lines and get them entangled in the propellers of the pirate ship and thus he was able to pull her backwards and sink her. Boats lose their seaworthiness when being pulled by the stern. What happened to the pirates? According to Max they did not live to tell about it.
As for Nicaragua lets begin. I saw Max at the dock and we were soon on our way to Leon with Julio as the driver and Max doing the narrating. The vehicle was a large Toyota van with A/C of course and it was in very good condition, no bag of bolts to be sure. The roads were smooth and we were in Leon in just over an hr. We stopped at a restaurant for a local brew, sort of a tradition of mine to have a local beer wherever we go. Theirs is called Dona and its good though not as good as Gallo in Guatemala IMHO. In this restuarant were portraits of several poets and writers who are honored in Nicaragua for speaking out against the brutality and corruption of the Somoza regime. Across the way is a small park with a monument to them. We were near a church, just across the plaza and as it was Sunday there was a mass going on but thats not all. Right on the church steps was a group banging drums like mad. With them was a someone dressed as a 8 ft. woman in red who sort of looked like a flamingo dancer and she was dancing like a dervish.. Well according to Max this woman represented a spirit who helped get rid of Spanish during colonial times. Anyway it was really loud and we did go into the crurch to view the service. Well there is no A/C there and the doors were open and man oh man it was really loud in the church from all that banging but it did not seem to matter to the locals. It also seemed that the church bells would go off every few minutes so all in all it was quite a different church service from what I've ever seen B4. :D . But this is why you travel.
Nearby were shops and the local market in which we found a few mangoes and some of the best guava we've ever had. We drove through some neighborhoods and what you notice is bars in the front of residential windows and in some case razor wire on the top of rather hgih walls. Unfortunately it seems the crime rate is rather high.
Max then took us to hill 14. You may ask what the heck is this. Well its actually an abandoned police/military fort. Here you can go into the jails where the Samoza govt. took their political prisoners. The jail doors have been removed. One can only imagine what went on here and Max said the jails were so full that at time there was just enough space to stand. Hill 14 is also the last stand for the Nicaraguan army when they fought and finally surrendered to Daniel Ortegas rebel forces. The walls are full of bullet holes and again one can only imagine what went on then. The interesting thing is Nicaragua is so poor it doesn't have the money to enshrine this as a historical landmark which it surely is. You could say it is like their Alamo. If you were to go there be aware that the ride is rough. You go on a dirt road through the cities garabe dump. For me its worth it to see something of this historical importance as unadorned as it is. You also get a great view of Leon and the several volcanoes that ring this are. The day were were there one of them was spewing steam. You can see all of this in the pics I posted here from the entire cruise.
We then decided to return to the ship but stopped along the way to eat the fruit we had bought at the local market. We stopped by a wonderful stretch of beach, very long and with calm waters. I thought this would be were developers would put up resorts were this Mexico or the Caribbean. However Nicaragua and tourism just don't go together. Isuppose its because its such a poor country they just don't have the means to build the necessary infrastructure to support tourism. I understand that they get significant money from Hugo Chavez, :D our good buddy in Venezuela. Anyway he's popular here.
We were dropped off by Max at the dock and as there was a small town nearby I decided to stroll and shop a bit. I saw a nice Che Guevara T-shirt and wanted to buy it for my son. He missed coming with us due to some minor GI bug. Well the lady refused to sell it to me! I was taken aback and tried to no avail to get her to change her mind. Then she pointed to a poster of Che superimposed with Hugo on her wall and smiled as if these guys were her heroes. And it became clear that as a Gringo I was sort of the anti freedom figher. Well I thought if I pushed it the next thing I would see would be revolucionaries wearing camis, berets, smoking cigars and carrying AK 47's so discretion being the better part of valor I smiled and left though I really wanted that T-shirt! :D Well at the shop up the street I found, guess what, a Che t-shirt! That and another one for me for $5.00 Success! I sort of wanted to show it to the lady at the other shop but hey, why push your luck. :-)
Next port, Costa Rica

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