After a great breakfast complete with little Italian containers and
spoons, we snorkel right in front of our hotel. Nothing too crazy,
but there are a huge amount of neon little fishies and healthy coral
considering our immediate proximity to the whole of the town. Amanda
gets tired and heads back while I swim on to what will become an
obsession: there are wrecks partially immersed off-shore. I like them
so much I bring some chunks back: metal rusted orange and funky from
its time immersed. As I climb metal structures sticking out, see that
crabs have commandeered one of the former ships, find the chunks of
extruded polystyrene (?) in the ship's walls that result in weird foam
bits in the tide, and am otherwise thrilled by this decaying,
mysterious bulk, my head swims with fantasies of searching Libya's
coast for the rumored sunken Nazi gold.
And then we try to catch the 4:30 ferry to the appropriately-named neighbor island, Little Corn. Taxi to the wharf, and an old couple who seem to have this as their sole entertainment today deliver their message: "no ferry this afternoon: the driver this morning said he's not comind back today." It's ~3:00, so we eat lunch next door, wait a bit, and then I get antsy. Finding a captain at the boatyard adjacent ot the wharf, he eventually brings a boat owner to negotiate with me at the restaurant. I'd started with passage for 2 but figured it wouldn't hurt to try for more, and I did this by asking the elderly couple to point anybody else arriving for the ferry to me at the restaurant.
I get 2 more backpackers in with us and negotiate a rate of $90 total, and I'd have had 2 more but for the fact that these locals could only do 200 cordoba (~$20) of their share and would supposedly find their uncle on Little Corn to get the rest. We're a height above the normal panga's $6 per head, but normal panga's not an option if we want to get there tonight.
It turns out that this panga isn't an option either: some military douchebag shuts us down as we're about to pull away, supposedly even fining our fisherman driver for lack of tourist transporting permit. Lovely.
Amanda does her best to argue with the brass, but to no avail.
So, we follow a somewhat-crackheaded-looking dude who'd been helping recruit fellow passengers for me. He says he can find us another panga and, about 4 hours later, he comes through and we leave. Of course, this is only after "tipping" him ~$7, a taxi ride down the beach, me accompanying his "nephew" to buy 6 gallons of gas from some old dude's literal garage (this takes him away from DJ'ing at a bar that has loud music and lots of locals but no lights on), wondering if said gas will fall out of open taxi on another bumpy beach ride, and our "captain" almost deciding he wants to ask the too-near military station for permission to transport us out of fear his boat will be taken if we're caught. By the way, these islands have a way-disproportionate military presence because they're a common stopover for Columbian cocaine en route to Miami.
All told, it takes us over an hour to go the ~10 miles by sea and we pay ~$20 each, more than worth it for a wacky night ride adventure.
And then there's the walk. I thought small island would mean short treks to anywhere with universally easy navigation, and I was wrong. It's probably an hour of traipsing around the jungle / beach, wondering if one of the large crabs we keep nearly stepping on is going to eat our little toes. The bitching British girl who shared our boat and search for Ensueño's hostel doesn't exactly make things more enjoyable.
~5 large, white dogs barking and running at us signal our arrival. Alan, the caretaker, is a perturbed French guy who scolds us for arriving so late before showing us a strange, hand-plastered, bulbous 2-bed cabaña that is our only choice for a room. Amanda and I eagerly accept, as do our 2 backpacker tag-alongs. We're shown the hand-cranked, Rube-Goldberg-esque water pump, and I know we're at the right place.