Nica Snapshot: A World of Boats, part 3: Water Taxis

Zipping through the jungle along Rio Escondido
Zipping through the jungle along Rio Escondido

And then we decided to go to the Corn Islands.  After pricing the flight from Managua, we decided to drive as far as we could and then take boats from there — and what an adventure that became!  Driving as far as we could didn’t mean the Caribbean coast — few parts of that coastline are accessible by roads — so we drove to El Rama where we left our car in a gated lot and took a water taxi down Rio Escondido to the coast.

Loading our gear onto the bow of our water taxi in El Rama
Loading our gear into the bow of our water taxi in El Rama

The water taxi is a trip.  Up to 20 people are packed in an old boat hull, repaired and epoxied but serviceable.  The boats leave whenever they get enough people to nearly fill one.  The roofs are spindly and rather makeshift.  Splash protection comes via a tarp laid over the cargo in the front.  Then they add a fuel barrel and a monstrous roaring outboard and run you at 35 mph down the jungle river.

Cody took some coaxing and some calming -- and sometimes downright holding in place -- but he enjoyed parts of the trip too!
Cody took some coaxing and some calming — and sometimes downright holding in place — but he enjoyed parts of the trip too!

After a bumpy start we were all planing in a hull that doesn’t appear to be designed to plane.  We stop by random docks on the way if they have people on them.  The engine on a stop like that died and we were afraid we’d be stranded on the water for a while; then the outboard regained its loud — now comforting — voice and we continued at our unnatural pace.

Approaching Bluefields from the bay -- the only way to approach Bluefields.  The city is much bigger than this view makes it appear.
Approaching Bluefields from the bay — the only way to approach Bluefields. The city is much bigger than this view makes it appear.

Then we arrived at Bluefields, a surprisingly large city considering it has no land access.  It wasn’t our favorite city, but possibly because it was our first experience of wet season in Nicaragua (where different parts of the country have different wet seasons).  It was damp and rank to say the least, and we were promptly on another water taxi across the bay to El Bluff.  I’ve heard others have had good experiences with Bluefields, but it doesn’t sit high on our list of places to return to.

The boat to El Bluff was even smaller — holding maybe 12 people about six inches above the water.  Now we had no life jackets and only a tarp to protect us from windblown spray.  Though we made an interesting pass by a sailboat to load a passenger from it, the ride was otherwise short and thankfully uneventful — which we could not say for our next boat ride, which will be detailed in another post.

Small open water taxis for crossing the bay from Bluefields to El Bluff.  Sadly I didn't catch the name of the one we ended up riding.
Small open water taxis for crossing the bay from Bluefields to El Bluff. Sadly I didn’t catch the name of the one we ended up riding.

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