Corn Island, Nicaragua
Corn Island was a strange place, but one that we fit into very easily. It didn’t take us long to realize that we wanted to buy property and live there. The island was the truest definition of total anarchy. There was only one government official from Nicaragua, but he really didn’t have much to do. There was no crime there. People used to say that, “Life was so sweet that no one wanted to misbehave and get banished from paradise.”
No one worked very hard at all, and if they did it was only for a short time. This was definitively a trait that we had grown to love in our 6 years of travel! The young boys dove for lobster, or worked on a fishing boat for a few months, and then it was time to rest and party until they needed money again. The old men harvested their coconuts whenever they needed money. Everyone was tall and proud and physically in good shape. Also, there were no heavy weather events on Corn Island. It was often said that bad weather started here and went somewhere further north to do its damage. That’s why the island had some of the tallest and most graceful coconut trees that I have ever seen. Some were over 60 years old.
Once we decided to buy property it was not easy to find anyone willing to sell. Rainy and I spent over 3 months going around to every house on South End, taking tea in living rooms, and asking if they thought that it would be OK if we lived here permanently? In the beginning we were met with pretty cool attitudes, but eventually, when they figured out that we were the real deal, they softened their tone.
The black population is composed mostly of black English-speaking Creoles who are the descendants of escaped or shipwrecked Caribbean slaves; many carry the name of Scottish settlers who brought slaves with them, such as Campbell, Gordon, Downs, and Hodgeson.
Mister Campbell was willing to sell us 2 acres on the beach in a place called Shallow Water with just two stipulations. One that he could come down and bathe his horse in the shallow ponds that were formed at high tide, and two that he could retrieve as many coconuts from the 100 plus trees as he wanted. We quickly agreed and closed the deal with a handshake, a handwritten note and an exchange of 8,000 Cordoba’s (about $850 US in 1980).
Our new life’s PLAN was beginning to take shape.