Wow am I exhausted! I just returned from a fantastic trip to Ometepe, which is a beautiful island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. It is about a two hour drive and one and a half hour ferry ride from Managua. I left early Friday morning with my housemates and a few other friends and we arrived on the island by lunchtime. Our big plan was to climb el Volcan Madera, so we picked a hostel at the base of the volcano.
After dropping our stuff off and having a light lunch, we rented some bicycles to go exploring around town. We rode our bikes down to the beach and saw a spectacular view of la Concepción, the island’s other volcano. The island is much bigger than I was expecting. I thought we could casually ride around the whole thing. Ha! Nope. It was still fun to ride through the hills of Balgüe, though. (Fun fact: Did you know the umlaut, those two dots above the u, makes sure both vowels are pronounced? Without the umlaut the word would be bal-gay, but with the umlaut the word is bal-goo-eh. Thanks, Ms. Skoog!) We cycled for about about an hour and half, with a pit stop in the middle for smoothies, and then returned our bikes and continued exploring on foot—until our stomachs convinced us to stop for dinner.
We all agreed we preferred something a little off the beaten track, and found a small family restaurant, selling pescado chorrizo, which is shredded fish cooked with vegetables and served with rice. It was delicious!
After a pretty decent night’s sleep in our hostel, we woke up at 6:30 am to have breakfast before setting off on our hike. I, of course, opted for gallo pinto and eggs, which I am convinced was an integral part of my success later in the day. Our hike was a long one, eight hours in total. It was challenging to say the least! Narrow paths, muddy streams, and portions that required a bit of rock-climbing kept the hike up interesting and made the hike down feel quite dangerous. The journey was absolutely breathtaking, though, and well worth the layers of dirt that covered me by the end of the hike. We saw monkeys, cacao and coffee plants, butterflies, and some birds I cannot name. At the top, we trekked down a bit further to reach the laguna to swim and have lunch. That gave us the energy we needed to make it back down again, but man were we hurting by the end! The way down was definitely harder than the way up!
We needed to be back at our hostel by around 5 pm because we wanted to catch a bus to another part of the island, and the last bus was at 5:30. We made it to the hostel at 5:15 pm, which meant we had to grab our stuff and run down to the main road! Oh my gosh! I cannot explain to you what we looked like, still covered in dirt and limping from different injuries and blisters, literally running down the dirt road! I carried my suitcase on my head for a while! I’m sure people thought we were crazy!
We reached the main road just before 5:30 and we could see the bus heading towards us—good news!—except the bus drove straight on by as a man yelled out the window, “No more buses until tomorrow!” What!?
Well, having adapted quite nicely to the Nicaraguan way of life, we just had to laugh. We found a place to sit and had some Toña and organic chocolate and called our taxi driver from the day before, who kindly agreed to come pick us up to take us to Altagracia, our next destination.
In Altagracia, we splurged on a $9 hotel and enjoyed the healing power of a good shower. Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, though still slightly battered, we wandered out in search of dinner. We found a nice big open restaurant and ordered much more food than our stomachs were prepared for. (I did confirm, though, that Nicaraguans make a mean chicken soup!)
Sleep came quite easily, but a talkative neighborhood roster and a 4 am drum parade made staying asleep impossible!
Luckily, in the morning we were off to el Ojo del Agua, which is a natural spring with supposed healing abilities. It was the absolute best thing to do after climbing a volcano. It was so relaxing to lazily float in the water. We even drank out of coconuts! (I mean we were on an island, so we had to!) Kathrin said it best, “We make the nicest plans!”
The afternoon passed all too quickly and before we knew it it was time to catch the ferry back to the mainland and back to reality. Time to get started on my homework I suppose!