Pleasure Island, home of the Surfing Turtle
The chicken bus experience from our stay in Ometepe to Granada was great. I got exposed to a new, different way of traveling that was both cheap (I think, I didn't actually pay) and entertaining (in the form of people watching). I didn't do an official poll, but it seemed like those that I talked to were glad to have tried it. However, when we were presented with the following two options: 1) take three different chicken buses from town to town in Nicaragua; or, 2) pay 3 USD more per person to take a private van, the response was unanimous. Off we were in an air conditioned private van!
With less to observe inside the transportation, my eyes were again drawn to the landscape. There is so much to see, from people selling iguanas on the street (I hear it tastes like chicken) to graffiti/street art to landscapes that included towns, farmland, and scenic views. One of the most interesting thing has been to see how much people still rely on horses. I even saw someone using a horse to move a bed! Our trip also gave me the chance to again reflect on the vast differences in
On the road again...
quality of life in this world. This drive seemed drier, less "lush" than other places I've been. We drove past many fields with little grass, just garbage and emaciated animals. It's just the beginning of the rainy season, and I hope that explains how many farm animals looked like they were starving. But, either way it was hard to watch. Although we passed by a range of homes, with some looking more like what I'm uses to, there were many homes that were patched together with large pieces of tin, boards, and whatever other materials were available. It's hard to describe the feeling of moving through obvious poverty while traveling from one awesome place to the next for my vacation. It certainly made me appreciate, again, how much I have.
Adri described our next place as "pleasure island", only partly because of the number of hot guys staying there. There are so many things that make it pleasure island. First of all, it's completely remote and private. In order to get there, we took a small boat from a small place near Leon. Then the small boat went back for our bags (because there wasn't enough space for
Next stop: Isla los Brasiles
both) which would arrive to us via a horse and cart. We then walked 1.5 km through the woods to our accommodations on the beach.
It was so cool. There was a main structure right on the beach with a couple of large dorm style rooms, plus couches, a bar, tables and a sound system. Apart from the main building there were a few other covered places to eat, hang out, relax in hammocks, etc. The whole hostel uses only solar power, which tended to run out in the evening. So, unless you were both careful and lucky, it was difficult to keep a charge on your phone - which, for me, is also my only way of telling time. There's nothing else around. Just the beach and the other people staying at the hostel. We were all in one room, but the hostel had several other people staying there. During the day, you could swim, surf, play volleyball, walk the beach, nap, read and relax. Then there was a beach volleyball tournament everyday at 4 (which often meant closer to 4:45). They stopped taking dinner orders at 6:30, and then you transition into party mode. (Note: either
We chose the "Shaded back path"
the bar didn't have a closing time, or I didn't make it long enough to learn what time it closed.)
Fortunately (?!) the sound system ran on battery power. So, even when there were no lights, you could still dance. And everything was open air, so while you "could" go to bed early, you would just be listening to your party from your bed -- so why not dance, right?
This is a type of place where you can eat and drink as much as you want - plus buy rounds for others (my roommate had an intervention to try to get me to stop telling people to "put it on my tab") for 2 full days for less than $50. That included the price of a 45 minute massage. Right on the beach. At sunset. I'm pretty sure that the rum and cokes are cheaper than just a coke (they didn't have diet soda on the island). It was funny, but also completely believable when one of my friends said "do you want a drink, because I've accidentally ordered 6". Cigarettes are less than $3 a pack. Everyone is hotter because they look relaxed, happy, with
Enjoying the beach sunset.
wind swept hair and just the right amount of sunburn. Especially when you factor in the fact that the showers were a little unreliable, it was totally acceptable to go swimming in the ocean, then rinse off in the outdoor shower, and have that count as being clean. It was that type of place.
Several times over the 40-something hours that we were there, someone from my group would say something like… “This is literally the coolest place I’ve ever been”… “If I were to come up with my idea of a perfect vacation spot, this would be it”… “I’m never leaving here”… And so on. Also, most of the people who work there are “volunteers” which means they work one shift a day in trade for free room and board. Staying forever really would be a possibility. As I talked to some of the non-G adventure people, I heard the same type of thing… “I booked 3 nights here, and I’ve already stayed 10”… “I was meaning to volunteer here for two weeks, but I am going to stay for the foreseeable future”. And so on.
Somewhere along the way we started to
Our view from our room
joke that it might suck you in like the Pleasure Island from Pinocchio – so, so, so much fun but if you aren’t careful you’ll start to sprout ears and a tail. 😉 So, although we glanced back a few times (wistfully), all 17 of us made it back on the boat to the mainland. And that concluded our 6 nights in Nicaragua, as we headed into El Salvador.
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