El Doc

They Call This Work?? (Part 2)

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Now I can only see out the sides of the plane on final, which is supposed to be how you bring one in if your windshield is covered in fresh bird guts, not for routine VFR approaches on clear sunny days, so I watch the ground come up on the sides as we approach what I can only assume is the field (if you put a cat in a box, then close the lid, does the cat disappear? Did Schrödinger ever hear of an instrument approach?). Everything is whizzing by ... water, water, more water, getting a little closer now, water, water, little boat, water (where's the friggin island?), water, beach-grass-buildings (screaming by) about 100 feet below, trees, trees, trees, going by, grass directly below … hey wait a minute, this guy doesn't have any flaps down whatsoever (tailhook maybe?)! We're careening over what looks like a grass field cuz it's all friggin' grass and it's fenced-in on both sides. 120 knots IAS, is that right for short final in what looks like little more than a Cessna 172 on steroids? A DC-9 feels slower on short final than this! We level out about 50 feet over the grass and cruise straight ahead. The flaps go down and the airspeed with it (interesting technique), the grass gives way to asphalt 5 feet below just as the stall horn starts that Celine Dion in a chokehold thing, and the quick chirp of the tires as they touch down right smack on top of the threshold (little short of the touchdown area but who's paying attention?). I think this guy has done this a few times before.

The captain (who looked like a captain) reversed the variable pitch prop and gently eased the throttle up to takeoff power and we came to a smooth stop. The copilot (who looked like a junior in high school) was folding up newspapers and sending a text message on his cell phone; probably “ya llegué” to his Island sweetheart (or to his ball and chain back in Managua who's now keeping tabs on him since pictures of him showed up on Facebook at Vale Todo while giving a breast exam to a stripper in a pilot's hat . . . wait, that's just me daydreaming). I'm sure the text message was in Spanish because he was an “Español”, which is what Nicaraguans who aren't Negro or Miskito call themselves out there, which means he proudly only speaks Spanish and reacts to English like an Orange County California deputy sheriff on a routine traffic stop in Laguna Hills reacts when someone starts speakin' that Español. Speaky Engrish, boy! Point is, they aint budging. They speak Spanish cuz this is still Nicaragua, kinda . . . for the moment. Anyways, the way they speak “English” on Corn Island, I'm not sure anyone could learn it as a second language. As on the Pacific side, the local dialect has strayed far from its European roots.

Anyways, more of that free-association again. The point being, if he had been a Karn Islander, he simply would have texted “I reach!” (pronounced: reeeEEeech, three syllables).

Fish ceviche (left), bruchetta (bottom) made with the local coconut bread and a Calimocho (top) at Tranquilo, Little Corn Island. Everything I ate there was outstanding (I'm totally seriously about that). I made it my mission in life to teach every bartender on the DAC how to make a Calimocho. For those taking notes, that's lot's of ice, 3 parts red wine and 1 part Coca Cola. Nothing better on a hot day and hot days are all we had out there.

Incidentally, I love the sound of a prop in reverse. It's not obnoxious like a jet when it comes in and screams “hey! Look at me, I'm here!” like AC/DC coming out under the pyrotechnics and screaming “For those about to rock! We salute you!” There's a time and place for that, but it would seriously be out of place on Big Corn Island. Little Corn Islanders would probably tar and feather you and then make you walk the plank into shark infested waters if you tried to pull that big city crap over there (you'd blow the Island's only circuit breaker on the first chord anyway). Granted, JP5 smells a lot better in the morning than AVGAS, so jets aren't all bad, but you still can't beat that beautiful hum of a prop turned back on itself and the turbine blowin' out the exhaust in one precise, computer-controlled, perfectly in-tune ending to a smooth journey… it's less AC/DC and more Placido Domingo at the end of Nessun Dorma.

All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vinceròoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! I like planes and I like AC/DC and I like Opera, so insert your own vocal and/or machine noise as needed.

Power down, U-turn to the tarmac (no taxiways here), flip a bunch of switches and it all shuts down nice and easy. I guess that maneuver can get routine after a few hundred times. The terminal was a simple affair. All the proper terminal stuff. A door to the tarmac on one side and a door to the road side with taxis on the other. In between was a little snack bar with Skittles any kind of beer you want as long as it's ice-cold Toña, a bunch of chairs, a TV, the most gorgeous woman you've ever laid eyes on telling people seductively to “take off your belt” next to the metal detector, etc., etc. 5-foot-ten and eyes of honey, slim Black Nubian goddess with legs that go all the way to the floor and a smile that has surely lured more than one sailor to his destruction on the rocks. Needless to say, she was quite attractive and I had the privilege of having her smile and tell me to take off my belt TWICE when I later departed. Sadly, I couldn't lead her on any more than that, though the little devil on my right shoulder was saying “do it! Do it!” Ask DSB about the woodpeckers. Anyway, move along, the rock on her finger said someone already landed her in the boat and I'm sure he's armed. Besides, you make a move on this speck of terra firma and the news will reach the other side of the Island before you do, even if you take the shortcut down the runway.

The ferry landing at Brigg's Bay, Big Corn Island. The commercial ferry between Big and Little Corn runs twice daily, takes about 20 minutes to make the crossing, and costs something around 100 cords (can't remember exactly, I only used it once and I was very, very drunk ).

So that's a lot of words for an uneventful arrival. Costeña has it down to a science, so there isn't much to say. I'm still sorting out some internet problems to get the photos ready for the rest of the story. Be that as it may, I later learned why they checked my passport before I boarded back in Managua; I just landed in a whole different country.

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  1. Daddy-YO's Avatar
    Wow, judging from your writing I'd say your brain was travelling faster than you were flying!. Good stuff. And good to see you back on TRN, brother. Keep on laying that sagacity upon us that overflows from you like anointment oil in the tropics.
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