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  • Writer's pictureDC Eastman

Budget Travelling Can Be a Real Sh*tshow Sometimes

I didn’t get to see 70+ countries because I can afford to do so. I managed to pull it off thanks to my locust mindset of living as if there is no tomorrow. And just like the locust, I lack class and sophistication, making traveling worldwide super affordable.  

But thanks to my incredibly low standards, I get to see the world. The real world- not the world as viewed through resort- or cruise-ship-goggles!

Speaking of ships, let me get back on track and share an experience where I regretted my travel-rat mentality.

    Cheap Caribbean Islands

Yeah, you read correctly. You’ll find affordable Caribbean islands off the coast of the forgotten country of Nicaragua called The Corn Islands. Imagine the Bahamas but with a meth addiction.

Perhaps I undersold it there, but what I’m trying to say is that you’ll find the natural beauty of the Caribbean still intact but less the infrastructure of the more developed island nations. And boy, is it cheap.

For instance, I stayed in this hut on the beach for $10 a night in 2020.

Now, at this point in time, I was halfway into my one-year-long Americas trip. My budget at this point was lower than the Taliban’s women empowerment budget, and I had to dig deep to make ends meet.

For a normal human being, the trip to Big Corn Island is a breeze.

A quick 45mins flight will get you there. But you can also do it overland and water in a two-day trip that you must plan carefully. First, there’s 8 hours on a bus with no aircon (Nicaragua is in the tropics, by the way), and then you’ll need to overnight and catch the boat from Bluefields the next day, which will take another 5 to 7 hours, depending on the boat and sea conditions.

But I took it one step further. I went to Rama, which is inland. From there, I could catch a boat down the river and onto the ocean, and that cruise takes 13 hours.

13 hours on a boat? No worries. “I NEVER get seasick.”

Anyway, at 9 pm, I arrived at the river harbor, and our boat was already docked and preparing for the cruise. It wasn’t a passenger ferry at all but a cargo ship. I was the only English-speaking bleach face there. When the crew allowed us to board, I reverted to my white-privilege programming and went straight to the interior to find my own cabin while the locals searched for spots to sit in between the cargo.

I found a cabin, and just as I was about to enter, one of the crew members stopped me and reminded me of racial equality.

“No, no, no,” he said in Spanish while shaking his head with his eyes closed. He then pointed toward the cargo hull where the other locals found spots to sit in between bags of rice, baskets of vegetables, fuel drums, and cows…. Yes, living cows.

There were no chairs, stools, nothing. Thank f*** I brought a hammock along so at least I could make myself comfy. Some other locals also brought their hammocks and strapped them up.

I was about 3 yards from the cows, their asses facing my direction.

On the other side, between rice, beans, fruits, and vegetables, the other locals settled in.

You probably won’t believe me, but I had a decent sleep between 11 pm and about 7 am that next morning. The cruise down the river was smooth, and I slept like a baby. In hindsight, perhaps I was partially sedated by the diesel fumes and cow farts occupying the hull.

But the real adventure was about to start.

At about 8 am, when we entered the open ocean, that was when the experience turned into a sh*tshow. Quite literally.

Apparently, a storm system had just left that area the night before, leaving the swells angrier than a feminist on a date with Andrew Tate. Our hammocks began swinging and knocking against each other like those metallic balls in a Newton cradle.

The poor cows, who were all tied up to the back of the boat, were petrified and mooing while peeing and pooing on the floor. I was still in my hammock, swinging around and trying not to puke on myself, when the first bit of cow dung hit me.

Because the boat was rocking so profusely, the cows were trying to compensate by dancing from side to side. Every so often, one of the poor animals would slip on their excrement, fall on their side with a huge thud, sending the pee and poo flying in my direction.

I saw nowhere else I could go in between the gauntlet of swinging hammocks and vomit projectiles from the other passengers. Instead, I decided to lift the side of my hammock as a shield against the sh*t assault coming from the cows.

A child started crying. The boat creaked and cracked. The cows cried. Fuel drums clinked against each other. Shit splatters on my clothes and hammock… nightmare stuff.

It became too much. I couldn’t hold the contents of my stomach in any longer. How could anybody’s stomach stay calm when getting swung around like a hypnotist's pocket watch?

I left the swinging sh*t-caccoon and tried to make my way on wobbly legs to the boat's edge to feed the fish.

But I didn’t make it.

When I regained my consciousness, I was sitting on a bag of rice with another passenger holding my head up. From what I gathered, I fainted in slow motion before reaching the edge, and just before I collided with the deck, a Samaritan caught me and eased me down onto the bag of rice.

I remained seated for a while, but minutes later, I had to do what I set out to do. I emptied the little contents I had left in my stomach overboard and continued to vomit air until my stomach muscles began aching.

That was about 9 am.

We got off the boat at noon.

It took me about 24 hours to feel like a normal human being again.

When I got off the boat, I took a photo and saw the name for the first time.

Estrella Del Mar = Star of the Ocean.

What a f**** joke...

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