Published: February 22nd 2012
February 22nd 2012
A view from the ferry
Ometepe/San Juan del Sur– Jeff
Well we managed to get out of the Granada area. While we had a wonderful time, we were definitely ready for some new scenery. After visiting a rainforest treehouse hostel, we headed back into Granada to catch the four hour ferry to Isla Ometepe. The bus back into the city was, as always, completely jammed full of people. Erin and I stood at the very back as they continued to add more and more people to the bus (which always seems impossible, but somehow always successful). The back was a nice change as normally I give Erin the window seat and sacrifice my aisle-side shoulder to be victim of perpetual teabagging as they cramming gets more intense. The “hype man” for the bus (every mode of public transit has one – their job is to encourage and cram as many people in as they can) was riding outside
of the back door of the bus and hanging on to the ladder as we cruised down the highway.
Arriving in Granada, we took some time to get breakfast and headed to the dock to board the ferry. The four hour trip was very beautiful. We
Another view from the ferry to Ometepe
passed several volcanic islands before arriving to the biggest volcanic island on the lake – and biggest freshwater volcanic island in the world – Isla Ometepe. The island is formed by twin volcanoes and the view from all sides looks like a scene from Jurassic Park.
Ometepe is not all that big and the tourism industry is just starting to blossom there. Our first destination on the island was Santo Domingo. Like nearly all the towns on the island, Santo Domingo is very small with only a few hotels and restaurants on the lake and not much else. The restaurants are all dirt floor huts that belly up to the shores of Lake Nicaragua. They have great views, a steady breeze, and excellent local food.
Our first full day we decided to go to Ojo de Agua which is a natural spring that has been dammed up to form a natural swimming pool. We spent the afternoon lounging in the natural pool and enjoying some relaxation time. Thank goodness because our next two days would not be relaxing.
The next day we grabbed some breakfast and decided to rent some bikes to see more of the island.
One of our favorite restaurant huts in Ometepe, Julia's!
While getting dressed back in the hotel, we had a white faced monkey come into the lobby of our hotel. The owners tossed him a little bread to munch on which gave us a nice opportunity to take some pictures of the little guy. After the photo op, we hopped on our bikes. Riding bikes on the island turned out to be quite a challenge. Once the paved road runs out about a kilometer from our hotel, the road became an extremely rocky, hilly dirt path. We road around for a couple of hours and saw a few other different villages…all of which were very similar in size as Santo Domingo. The island, like everywhere else in Nicaragua, has free roaming farm animals everywhere. I nearly wrecked my bike into a pig who stubbornly stayed in the path of my bike during this little adventure…lots of laughs for Erin.
The following day we woke up sore from the bike ride and decided to move further down the island to a town called Merida. We hopped a cab which took roughly 30 minutes to go seven kilometers…that kind of gives you an idea of the road conditions. After the bumpy
Enjoying his hot dog bun :)
ride, we checked into a farm/budget hotel to drop off our goods and begin our hike to the island’s waterfall. Our hotel was 3 Kilometers away from the entrance to the hiking trail. The hike itself was a steep 3 Kilometers; the last of which is through narrow muddy trail, river rocks, and lots of thick vegetation. Two hours after leaving our hotel, we arrived at the waterfall completely exhausted. It was definitely worth it. We had the whole thing to ourselves with a beautiful view the overlooked rainforest and the lake. After giving ourselves some time to recharge the batteries, we headed back down the path. We arrived back at the hotel and decided to head to the local rodeo that happened to be going on while we were there.
The rodeo was a riot. Kind of a combination between bull fighting and bull riding – they don’t kill or harm the bull though. To anger the bull in order for the cowboy to ride it, random guys, who otherwise stand near the crowd and tip back bottles of rum, run up to the bull and bite the hell out of the bulls’ tail. They usually dodge a
Jeff Ojo De Agua
Enjoying the water!
haymaker kick or two, then run back to their spot and take another pull of rum. It seemed as though the rodeo was more of a really dangerous drinking game than it was any kind of a sport…but it sure was entertaining. A couple of beers and plates of local food later, Erin and I decided to head back home after noticing the local crowd was getting COMPLETELY hammered in preparation for a big party and dance after the last of the rodeo.
The following day we headed up to a supposed beach on the lake. We were seated in the back of the bus which was a long ride. In addition to the usual crammed bus, the majority of this ride had an alive baby pig in a burlap sack tied to the back door of the bus that squealed like crazy at every stop. Bus trips never cease to amaze me. When we arrived, the lake’s water level was such that there were really no beaches anywhere. We decided we were ready for a beach and a little less isolation. We made a last minute change-hopped in a cab, caught a ferry to Rivas, and hopped a
cab from Rivas to San Juan del Sur. Just in time to see the beautiful sunset over the bay.
We are still in San Juan del Sur. San Juan del Sur is loaded with Gringos. It is nice to see some of the back-home influences and recharge the batteries even though it is not much of a cultural experience. With it being a prime tourist destination, Erin and I have still managed to find several very beautiful beaches to have all to ourselves for entire afternoons at a time.
We swung down to a small fishing village called El Ostional for a weekend to get away from the party crowd in San Juan. It was a very tiny village with interesting accommodations…again very new to the tourism thing. Our first “hotel” we looked at was literally a guest bedroom in a tiny shack that an entire family lived in-with our bedroom door being a superman bed sheet. We passed on that place and found something with some more privacy eventually. Our stay was very nice. We spent the days on the beach and the evenings eating awesome meals from the local “restaurants” (actually they are just people’s houses
Random Farm Animal
Another random farm animal was thirsty...
and you ask the ladies what is available that evening and order accordingly…no menu at all). There were maybe five other tourists in the entire town while we were there.
We headed back into San Juan to get back into the social beach scene. We have been staying at a hostel called Pacha Mama. It is a nice combination of a social yet relaxed atmosphere. We have been spending time with new friends from all over the world and sharing stories of our experiences on the road. We decided to get a few things in while we were staying here so we rented a paddle board which was a lot of fun. We also did some near shore fishing and had a lot of success. We brought home about 50 red snapper, none of which were very big. We brought some of our catch to a local Peruvian restaurant and they cooked up the fish and gave us rice and salad and charged us each 2 dollars for the effort. We also had the opportunity to try some Pelliway meat that will be used for an upcoming gyro stand in town. It was awesome.
Sadly, we have officially
bought our bus tickets to Costa Rica . I say sadly because we both truly loved our stay here in Nicaragua. Its authentic, cheap, safe, and full of very happy and friendly people. We will miss it but I know it will be on our list of places to return to one day.
There are more photos below