Sunday, July 17, 2011
Our Little home on Little Corn Island
Ok, sorry about the delay in posts, but we have had an eventful three months. First, we returned to Little Corn Island and closed on our beachfront property. Then it was time for the permits, which in Central America is like everything else we have done so far...convoluted. We had the property surveyed by a guy with no survey equipment or a tape measure for that matter (apparently this is not out of the ordinary) He basically walked along and said, “right here”, which was where the prior owner had established his property lines. The same person, for $120, started the application for our building permit. We gave him a set of plans, a materials list, estimated cost and a few other things and waited. Brady’s mom came for a visit and after a few weeks, we were told that we would be receiving our permit in the next week or so. We waited and my dad flew down to help with the construction. The next week passed, still with no permit. I stressed that we needed to sail south to avoid the hurricane season and that I would like to get materials and get started. I was told by the official building department representative that I could go ahead and get started since everything was fine and our permit would arrive soon. My pops and I wasted little time and we had our little beachfront cabana built in a few weeks. Brady made a trip over to the big island to check on our permit and found out the the representative had been fired for taking money and other misdeeds and our application had not even been filed...HMMM. No permit and house already built...I did not fret about it too much as this is Nicaragua. The lot is titled and registered on the main land with an official survey stating the dimensions and such. We had enjoyed several beach barbecues in our new fire pit and even camped out on the hard floor for a night...not the brightest idea. We put the finishing touches on the oiled exterior, painted the shutters and varnished the floor. I have already bought the kitchen and bathroom sinks as well as the toilet and only need to install the septic and plumbing on our next visit. Just as we were preparing for our sail to Bocas del Toro, I received a nice letter from the building department stating that I had built without a permit and needed to pay a $3300 fine...HMMM. I spoke with several other folks who have had similar permit problems who were fined $250. I guess it’s time to try to squeeze the gringo. Since the house only cost around 5K I don’t think I am going to pay. A Nica attorney should do the trick, so I am told. There are always trade offs in life right? Cheap beachfront land, perfect climate, awesome water, but a few hitches. We saw a lady arrive, get land, permits and start construction in two weeks...Of course she took the building department rep. to dinner several times. I am apparently not fully aware of the grease the palm trick, but am a fast learner. In a nutshell, Little Corn Island is a slice of heaven. We found a place that has no cars, motorcycles or roads. There are only walking trails that lead from place to place. One side of the island has most of the restaurants and bars and the other has the best beaches and the hotels, which are more like cabanas. The diving is world class and we snorkeled with hammerheads. We meet great people and have made many friends. The “panga” arrives twice daily with a fresh load of travelers from all over the world. The food is great and the local people friendly. We left our dinghy on the beach for hours everyday and in the water every night with no problems. For those of you who need an affordable, off the beaten path vacation...this is your place. We finally had to leave and made the sail to Bocas del Toro in 36 hours with our two Aussie friends aboard. We are officially out of the hurricane zone and are awaiting our next adventure, although I have to admit I didn’t want to leave what felt like our new home!