Friday, June 26, 2009

A Little Bit Of Foreshadowing/Welcome To Little Corn

The first thing you notice about Little Corn Island - once the death fear from the panga has worn off - is how quiet it is. There are no cars or roads on the island. We hear rumors of six horses but don't see any of them. There's a cement boardwalk that goes up and down one side of the island, bordering the houses, a few restaurants, two dive shops, some hotels and bars but that's it. That constitutes the LCI business district.

When we get off the panga Scott Smyth and Compana, an island elder, are there to meet us. Why should you remember Scott?

1) He started the whole Little Corn Island project last year - he was the impetus for this whole thing and put it all together.
2) He flew Minnow, the bald dog who liked to eat my flip flops, from LCI to Managua, got a car and brought her to the clinic in Granada last year to recover from her demodectic mange when the islanders were going to kill her.
3) He put this whole thing together again this year.
4) He and his girlfriend Kristine are Mr. & Mrs. Portia - they are they people that adopted everyone's favorite fat, one eyed monster and flew her to the states, where she lives a life of luxury, dog parks and Halloween pirate costumes in Fort Collins Colorado.

In short the man is a damn saint.

And I still get emails asking for a Portia update so I promise promise promise that we will do a reunion up in Fort Collins. Not only because I miss her fat ass but also because everyone should witness the most dramatic change in fortune ever to occur for a Nicaraguan street dog. And I saw a picture of her in the pirate costume and it's pretty damn cute.

The gear is unloaded - damp but unscathed - from the panga and we are all hauled up onto the dock - damp and deeply traumatized - from the panga. We got to a restaurant across the boardwalk and reconvene. People from Casa Iguana, the hotel on the other side of the island that has donated all our housing, is sending someone over with wheelbarrows to bring our personal luggage there. The dive shop nearest the dock is taking the clinic supplies to store since it's closer to the school and will make it easier for us to move and set up the next morning.

The Atlantic coast of Nicaragua is much, much different than the Pacific coast. Most of the islanders are more Creole than Latin and the dominant language is a lilting, Jamaican-esque English though everyone seems to be bilingual. Somethings, however, are universally Nicaraguan: it takes over an hour and a half for us to get our food - some sandwiches, a few tacos. While we wait Compana and Scott fill us in on the run-up that's been going on out here prior to our arrival.

At the school there's been an essay contest about why our coming and what we do is important and the eight winners will read their essays to the vets. Compana and other islanders have been working the barrios on the interior of the tiny island with a bullhorn, announcing when we will be here and where to bring the animals. Three different thank-you dinners have been planned for us. The island is plastered with flyers in English and Spanish announcing the clinic. Local volunteers have stepped forward to help us. The school has donated two of it's four classrooms - the two that actually have tiled floors - for us.

Most shocking is the power: the entire island is run off of one generator that runs from 4.30 in the afternoon to 4.30 at night. While a few businesses and individuals have private generators, this is the power source for the residents. To accommodate our clinic hours, they'll run the generators from 8.30-3.30 every day so we can have power for our lights and equipment. This will be at enormous expense and inconvenience to the island. The magnitude of this gesture really can't be understood by all of us who live in places where power is a granted, given thing.

In all the time I've spent doing this in Nicaragua I have never, ever seen such support for the clinic. Where I not a cynical, screwed up individual who is still recovering from nearly crapping myself on the panga I would probably cry.

While we're eating on the patio two dogs are playing in the yard. One of them is dragging a chain but they're the fattest, happiest third world dogs I've seen in my life. The people who own the restaurant and attached pulperia don't shoo them away or throw rocks at them. We did those two last year, Scott tells me, they belong to the restaurant owners. The littler one comes up to the table and sprawls on her back. These are not the cringing, sad creatures of Granada.

After lunch we walk the dirt path across the island to our digs, through the woods and to the other side of the island and down the beach. Scott gives us the tour. It starts to rain in big drops. We stop at the site of the eco lodge he's building. A little further down we stop at Carlito's, a hotel that's donated a room for two of our people. As we're walking by Scott whistles and a chunky, healthy little blond dogs comes zooming out from behind one of the casitas.

It's Minnow, the infamous blue dog of the Corn Islands who spent two months with us in Granada last year recovering from demodectic mange. I haven't seen her in over a year. She frolics around us for a second, nipping our heels and running on the beach and then goes dodging back to her hotel - she belongs to Carlos, who owns the place. I doubt she recognized me - if she did I doubt she would have been as happy to see me seeing as I shoved so many needles in her ass, but it's good to see her.

It's decided that Norman and Claudio will take the room at Carlitos. The rest of us are lodged up the beach a bit at Casa Iguana, who has donated six casitas for the rest of us. Andrea, the tech from Arizona, and I are roomed up together in a little cabana with a futon and a bed and a little balcony that overlooks the Caribbean, complete with hammocks. Holy crap. There's a gourmet restaurant, a bar, and a beautiful beach on the premises all linked by a serious of raked sand paths bordered by palms, pineapple bushes and flowers. Welcome to paradise.

That night we have all a welcome dinner at the Casa Iguana restaurant. Aside from having been up since 3 AM, this whole gig thus far seems like a cake-walk: everyone wants us here. The generosity and support is overwhelming. The island dogs we've seen thus far, from the restaurant dogs to Minnow, are chunky and happy, not skitzy or sickly in the least.

I unpack my scrubs, lay them out next to the bed.

A cakewalk.

Photos & notes: 1st - one of the numerous flyers up on the island announcing our arrival. 2nd - island dog lounges in front of one of the restaurants on the boardwalk. 3rd: halfway up the beach when we were getting our tour, local fisherman asked us to help them get their boat out. The fishermen, Scot, Dr. Tom and Norm roll the boat down the beach using logs. Last photo: Minnow, no longer blue or requiring needles in her ass, gets chin scratches from Scot.

Where the hell are the rest of the entries? I don't know if it has to do with the fact my 'puter got wet or what but I am having serious technical difficulties with the frickin' thing overheating. As my pictures and whatnot are stored on it, I'm working on these but it's taking forever to try and get stuff off of the piece of crap before it overheats. I'm sorry.


Julie said...

loved your blog post! I met Scot last week on a flight from Managua back to Houston(i had been in Nica visiting my son Jesse who is interning in Managua with Agora this summer. How can I donate to your project?
Best, Julie in Denver CO

Anonymous said...

Wondering what has happened to you to keep you from blogging...I hope it is just equipment failure.

adkjenn said...

I'm crossing my fingers that your computer is ok, and so are you! Hope to see an update soon! I love this blog.