Sunday, October 30, 2016

How do you spell paradise? CORN ISLANDS

We decided to take a break from Granada and explore the Corn Islands for a few days. We've only been here for the day and we've already extended our stay because it is so nice here! For those of you who have read our blog entries, last year, regarding the Yucatan peninsula and Belize you will recall our disappointment over the Sargasso grass and trash strewn on the beaches. Well, happy to report, the Corn Islands are absolutely stunning and without any of the Sargasso grass and only minimal trash. The people here are awesome too! The locals speak English, Spanish and Creole (a mix of several languages). People come right up to you and say, "Hi, thank you for coming to our island." and they are not even trying to sell you anything. Most travelers would admit, tourist areas somehow become magnets for vendors and hagglers. Thankfully this is about as low-key as one can imagine and it is so refreshing.
   The Corn Islands are everything that Bocas del Toro, Belize and Roatan aren't. In fact, I would think it's about as opposite as you can get from those places and it is so refreshing. We almost gave up on the Caribbean because we constantly felt over promised and under-delivered. Whether it was the poor infrastructure, safety concerns, no accountability, or all too often, a disregard for environment, the Caribbean can be a real letdown at times. I spoke with a retiree and he summed it up like this, "Corn Island feels like Jamaica, 40 years ago, before the mass tourism and the all-inclusive hotels." Perhaps not having a major hotel chain on the island did keep this place more genuine. Not sure what to make of it either way, but we had a great day, in a place, that the locals love as well.
   In the shallow waters off our hotel's beach we discovered a shipwreck. My daughters never had more fun in their lives than exploring this broken corpse of a vessel. Sierra even said, "I can hear the screams from the people that died on the ship," probably in reference to the Titanic. Since the ship was probably a fishing trawler that sunk during a hurricane, I doubt many people were screaming on the ship. In the latter part of the day we learned of an even better shipwreck, one with canons, and it's not too far from where we are staying. We still need to investigate this before we can confirm it though.
    We are staying at the hotel Paraiso  while on Big Corn Island. The owners of the hotel are from Holland and have kids that Sierra and Zoe immediately clicked with. Actually, at one point today, we thought the whole neighborhood was playing together. We could not have fallen into a better place, for our situation, than this hotel. We capped off an amazing first day watching a fiery sunset while my kids, and their new friends, swam in the shallows searching for sea urchins.

My legs floating in the ebb and flow of the current. 
A mangled shipwreck, 15 feet under the water

Eerie sights under water.

The beginnings of a reef are taking place.

Nature is taking over the wreck.

Zoe was checking for more debris.

The kids just loved diving around this wreck.

We taught the girls to stick together whenever possible. 

Once a proud vessel, I am sure.

Sierra liked imagining the ship in its glory days.

Sierra checking out the nooks and crannies.

We allowed the girls to poke around but never allowed them to dive underneath or into any part of the structure for safety reasons. They always had a clear shot to the surface.

An idyllic beach setting.

The hotel sign post.

Sierra was showing Zoe where we were on a map.

Breakfast time.

Looking eastward on our same beach.

Our hotel is right behind these boats.

Kids playing.

This dog quickly became our friend.

Playtime for the kids on the hotel grounds.

Our afternoon view.

Fiery sunset was mesmerizing.

The sunset was behind me when I took this picture, so I could show how the light on the opposite side of the horizon was changing too.

A floating tree came by at the perfect time.

Sierra and Nicenel showing off their sea urchins which they later released back into the ocean.


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