Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ometepe Island 9.7.08

Ometepe Island was formed by two large volcanoes that have fused together out in the middle of Lago de Nicaragua (Lake Nicaragua). Lake Nicaragua is a HUGE lake – Central America’s largest lake – almost the size of Lake Superior! It touches both coasts - the Pacific Ocean & the Caribbean – and is a freshwater lake. The larger volcano is Volcan Conception and the smaller is Volcan Maderas. Scott & Liz have lived here almost 2 years and have never been, although they’ve wanted to go so what better time than now!! On the island are lots of petroglyphs, a waterfall, a geocache (supposedly), lots of hiking, and water sports.

We decided to go over to the island after much of the rain had stopped & we could enjoy a couple days there. And tomorrow is Scott’s 49th B-day so we have special reason to celebrate!

There is a ferry to shuttle vehicles over to the island and we made reservations on the 11am ferry. We drove to San Jorge, just outside of Rivas to catch the ferry. On our way into town we had a turtle rescue operation to attend to…there was a cute little turtle (about the size of a desert plate) that was crossing the road, in the mud. Liz quickly got out of the truck, in the mud, & helped it onto the other side. Hahaha… When we arrived at the ferry plaza, we were told that the ferry was broken down….on the island….and they didn’t know when it would be up & running again but it would certainly not be today. Soooo….we adapted & changed our plans. We could take the launch over, but would be without a car and would need to do something with the vehicle on the mainland. We found an ever-so-helpful tourist guy who had a deal for us!! Haha. We could store the truck in a covered, locked storage building, among super high stacks of rice & beans, take the launch over, & a guy over on the island has a van who could pick us up & take us around for the 3 days. He would pick us up at the ferry on the island at the city of Moyogalpa & take us to our hotel on the other side of the island near San Ramon. Then the following day, pick us up at the hotel & run us all around town, and finally on Tuesday, pick us up at the hotel & take us back to the ferry. We negotiated for a price of $150 for the entire trip.

We jumped on the ‘launch’ and headed over to the town of Moyogalpa along with about 40 other people (including one in a coffin!).

As we were waiting for the launch to leave, we noticed a group of people in the water. Upon closer observation we figured it was a baptism! After all, it was Sunday, there were a lot of people in the water, fully clothed, singing, clapping, etc. All the while a guy on horseback was bathing his horse & people were playing with a volleyball nearby.

The trip over was great, it was a beautiful day, sunshiny with only light clouds in the sky.

Once we arrived, our driver Cristofer met us at the ferry and ran ahead to grab the van. We made it just to the road and he drove right ahead of us and told us to Jump in!! We hopped in & he drove us out of town.

Driving along we saw lots of fun sights. There were cattle being herded along the road by a guy on a bicycle, lots of crops - Red Beans (Frijoles), Platanos, Banana, Cana (Sugar Cane), some weird spice, Star Fruit, Refresco fruit, Coconut, Papaya, Corn, Avocado, Mango, Rice, etc. And there were wild pigs, horses, & cattle along the side of the road that were eating the grass & plants. It was quite a sight.
This picture is a couple guys beating what looked like straw. On closer examination & talking with them...this is the red bean plant - and they are beating them for the pod to open & the bean to fall out onto the tarp, which is then left in the sun to dry.

We were starving so we talked him into taking us to a place for lunch. He took us to a place right on the isthmus called Hotel Finca Santa Domingo in a city called Santa Domingo (surprise, surprise!) but was nicknamed ‘Ojo de Agua’ (Eyes of the water) and had a nice swimming hole.

The food was great! I’ve found a new favorite dish here called ‘Tostones’ which is fried plantain slices with a salty cheese slice on top.
Actually, now that I write about it, it probably shouldn’t be my new favorite….but yum, yum, yum….is it ever good!! They’re made slightly differently everywhere we try them and luckily Liz likes them as much as I do so we wind up splitting them plus splitting another dish. The beach at the lunch spot was beautiful – very serene. We enjoyed the area while our food was being prepared.

Back on the road again – entirely dirt road with lots & lots of potholes – headed to the hotel. The houses on the island were similar to those on the mainland. Either wood or brick construction with tin roofs. We made it to our hotel, Hotel Omaja (pronounced Omaha), & were greeted by one of the staff, Roseanna.

She showed us both of the casitas – they were nice, large one-bedroom, one-bath houses.

And the best part…with A/C and HOT WATER!! Woohoo! Now this is living! Since it was Scott’s b-day, we let him have the casita that also had TV & Satellite. We all got settled in our places, showered up, & made it to the bar/restaurant also on the property.

Heidi (pronounced Haiti) was the bartender/waitress and hooked us up with some drinks while we relaxed in the hammocks also on the patio.

We enjoyed watching the sun set over the mainland & chit chatting with S&L.

Dinner was also fabulous and we had the run of the place since we were the only guests at the hotel. They have room for only 20 guests, about 5 casitas. We chatted with Heidi & Roseanna and since tomorrow is Scott’s b-day, made arrangements with the chef to make him up a special desert with birthday candles. Yumm!! They had a special – one bottle of rum, two cokes, & a box of ice for $7.50 (150 Cords). Michael & Scott tried to kill it that night but only made it through about half.

It’s absolutely beautiful here. We can’t wait for tomorrow!!
More to follow…


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