So, onto Nicaragua we go. Colones to Cordobas. More specifically, hello to the Isla de Ometepe; home of ‘Concepcion’, the most epically named volcano, and ‘Maderas’, the other, less spectacular version. Weirdly, we are becoming accustomed to volcanoes in the skyline. Better shake that off before coming back to Farnborough.
Now, the journey to the island. We could have gone with the private shuttle and cut out the hassle, but instead were decided to be ‘más económico’ and go public. The first bus was at 4:20am which, in my opinion, is pretty early doors. Luckily, it was bearable because we have been going to bed around 22:00pm latest anyway (the high life). That journey was rattily, up and down and allowed the majority of us next to zero sleep. At around 6:15am, we arrived into the middle of nowhere expecting a one hour stopover. Previous history with the public buses suggested not all would go to plan, and around 2 and a half hours later, we hopped on the private shuttle to Rivas, Nicaragua. Word of warning: public transport in these ends is terrible- would not recommend. The stopovers are carnage and you end up stranded relying on limited Spanish to salvage the situation.
At least private shuttles are luxuries. The coach had reclining and comfy chairs, air con and a TV playing Tarzan en español. A long time later, we arrived at the border… I had lost track of time and we could not wait to arrive in Rivas and catch the ferry to the island. Fortunately, border control involved little more than a few passport exchanges and forms, none of which were really looked at.
So, into Nicaragua and Rivas. At Rivas, we were hassled into a taxi with some guys who made it hard to trust them, but they got us from A to B with little fuss. His meter, radio and car seemed to function at about 40%. The ‘lancha’ was a very small boat and took one hour to take us from Rivas to Ometepe.
Not one for those who suffer from sea sickness. I had the fortune of the window seat and being crashed with sporadic waves of lake water.
From Ometepe Island’s port, we caught a taxi to Puesta Del Sol where we would be staying with a little community of the lake edge and being catered for by small families. By the way, from Monteverde to Puesta Del Sol; 11 hours round trip.
That said, take a look at this for luxury.
We were introduced to our families, told when dinner would be and shown our rooms. All in Spanish. We are fully cultivating ourselves into the Central American lifestyle…
One hiccough. The rooms. I’ve always sneered at those who fail miserably in the jungle on I’m A Celeb, but I now have no issues in proclaiming my fear for creepy crawlies. Setting up mosquito nets was ‘ok’, but I couldn’t help feeling Josh and Lew were more secure with their pop ups. Then, as I went to get into bed, one spider sat staring at me from my pillow. The bloody audacity. And I was scared. What use is a mosquito net when a 2 inch spider can creep its way into my bed. Naturally, I stood panicking for about 5 minutes wondering what to do before pleading Finny to allow me some bed space. Should I be ashamed? Whisper it quietly; absolutely yes.
This piece of art up on the wall summed us up quite well, actually. Seriously though, these people must think we are pathetic. There were British people screaming at toads on the beach, we all let our countries down. The families were really, really hospitable. They really appreciated our efforts with Spanish, and though conversation dried up with each passing day, I’m glad we tried.
Throughout our stay on the island, we completed a lot in a short space of time. In our first full day, we hired 4 quad bikes and explored the island and its beaches in style.
Santa Domingo, a quiet beach just a short drive away, was particularly special. Some locals cut down some coconuts for us to sip on coconut water, we swam, builder human towers and ate in a local restaurant where we found out Tottenham had beaten Swansea 3-1. Sorry Finny. We later drove to some local springs, which I was lead to believe would be warm like any other thermal spring, but this just appeared to be cold, fresh water. Still, it was just what we needed. We had all burned in various areas of the body and a cool down in a Lido-like pool felt right. We took a different route back. We headed back down a muddy track where driving became a challenge, but we all returned the quads relatively safely and in good shape, if a little late. All good, we only paid a little bit more.
What a brilliant day. The girls had secured their first jobs as doctors and the evening was so ‘Pura Vida’, even though we weren’t in Costa Rica anymore. Ometepe Island needs its own version of the phrase.
The following day we decided to trek yet another volcano in search for a waterfall, which in the dry season, was not guaranteed to exist. After 1 hour and a half of upward hiking and unbearably humid weather, we arrived at this:
Not bad, huh?
Despite not being as difficult as the hike up Cerro Chato, the weather made it an undoubtedly less enjoyable experience… at least for me. There were far too many open areas of pure sun and the temperature was hitting the mid 30s, which leaves hiking boots more of a pain than necessity. The waterfall in picture was our just rewards; a well-earned natural shower for us all and by the end of the day, we were knackered. On the bus back, Josh had the driver dancing to Nelly on bluetooth. What a man. We hired a paddle board back in Puesta Del Sol and spent the afternoon chilling. I rolled my ankle as Lew pushed me off the paddle board; top bants.
On our last night in the chamber of insects; spiders, lizards, mosquitos, ants, roaches (basically everything), we set our alarms for an early breakfast in hope that we would be able to rent some bicycles out to ride to the ‘Punta’ of the island.
The bike ride was difficult. There was loads of sand, hills and the bikes lacked general proficiency. Ah well, we got there.
This would be our last stop on the island. I think it’s been a learning curve for us all actually. Living with families is about as authentic as it gets with observing the local way of living and though their food, supplies and way of living was very basic, they were all as content with their lives. Very little changes.
As I write, we are heading back to mainland Nicaragua and San Juan del Sur where we expect to see plenty of Americans partying on their Spring Break. A bottle of rums is 170 Cordobas; that’s about £5.50. Pura Vida to Fiesta Forever, that’s where we are heading.
See you on the other side.