Edit Blog Post
Published: September 21st 2013
Concepcion on the left, Maderas on the right.
We left Solentiname by boat to San Carlos to meet up with our next boat crossing lake Nicaragua for Ometepe Island. 10.5 hours from 2pm to 12.30am, it is a pretty big lake after all. We spent some of our time out on deck looking at the scenery and trying to spot fresh water sharks and crocodiles.
Ometepe is an island shaped like a figure of 8 with the active cone shaped volcano Concepcion towering out of the lake on one side and the inactive volcano Maderas with its crater now a lagoon at the other. The two volcanoes are joined by an isthmus of old lava flow making them one island about 31km long. The lower slopes of the volcanoes are filled with plantations, banana, tabaco, orange, etc, then above there is primary forest filled with Howler monkeys, Capuchin, many bird and reptile species and snakes too.
The islanders tell many legends about Ometepe, one of the most famous is the story about the lagoon of Charco Verde and its surroundings. The most popular story is about the demonic figure of Chico Largo, who can be found by local people who wish to make a pact with him.
Home of legends
They can exchange seven years of good luck in whichever field they choose, in return for their soul. It is believed that when the souls are taken at the end of 7 years the person dies and their soul lives in the lagoon, some believe that they are reincarnated as the animals that live around the lagoon and people have reported seeing animals with gold teeth like humans. This is also the fate awaiting anyone who hunts around the Charco Verde lagoon.
There was a military base near Charco Verde during the civil war in the 1980s, locals say that the soldiers hunted and killed many animals from the lagoon as there was such a shortage of food. One night a white horse walked through the base and all the personal were paralyzed and their weapons stopped working. After this the base was abandoned and Ometepe and its islanders were left in peace.
Another slightly more romantic legend tells of how Ometepe came to exist. The story goes that the lake and islands did not exist but a vast valley with thick forest with the tribes of the Chorotega, Chontales, Nagrandando and Niquirano living and fighting over the
territory. The Niquirano tribe had a princes called Ometepetl who had fallen in love with a warrior from the Nagrandando tribe called Nagrando and he fell in love with her too. They kept their romance a secret until eventually the two tribes found out, they eloped deep into the forest only to be hunted by both sides. As the tribes got closer and closer they decided the only way they could be together forever was to die in each others arms and slit their wrists. The Gods were angry that these young people were forced to kill themselves in this way and flooded the valley creating Lake Nicaragua, Ometepetls breasts became the twin peaks of Concepcion and Maderas of Isla de Ometepe. Nagrando became the Isla Zapatera located half way between Ometepe and the lands of his people. The warriors who tracked them down all died in the flood and became the Isletas de Granada and the Solentiname Archipelago.
Pre-Columbian artifacts are found all over the island from many different time periods. It is thought that Ometepe was thought of as a sacred place by many different tribes and artifacts have been found here from tribes as far away
On the hike up to the waterfall
as Argentina and Mexico (many of the best preserved pieces are Mayan).
Today the island has a very laid back and peaceful atmosphere where the modern world has not had much of an impact. Whenever you venture near the lake side you are sure to see someone washing clothes (or themselves) in the lake, or watering their horses. There is basically one road which forms a figure of eight around the two volcanoes, the only section that is paved runs between the two main towns on the north island. The rest of the roads are so rough that we didn't even want to hire peddle bikes. We met several tourists who had hired motor bikes to get around, only to get stuck or have accidents whenever it rained. To give you an idea how bad they are, we took a bus from Altagracia to Madera 8km it took 2 hours! If it wasn't for our backpacks we would have just walked. Most houses had pigs and chickens running around them and from what we could see most of the cooking is still done on an open fire for the majority of inhabitants. A lot of the inhabited areas smelled
of a combination of wood smoke and tabacco leaves drying.
We stayed in a lake side hostel on the south island that was so peaceful and relaxing, we walked to a waterfall which was exhausting but worth the effort. The heat and humidity was oppressive and the climb steep and challenging due to the condition of the path, some of it was just walking on the boulders of a river bed. When we reached the waterfall it was such a relief to feel the breeze and spray from the water, it was so high I couldn't fit it all in one photo. We walked to see some petroglyphs which were a little disappointing but less exhausting leaving Mark with enough energy to go kayaking in the afternoon when offered a discounted trip. Then we moved to a hostel on the north island to do some exploring from there. It was only 2km from the Charco Verde lagoon so we went and had a look around and I saw my first snake. It was about 1/2 meter long, dark grey on top and beige underneath and it slithered right in front of me on the lagoon path, I didn't get
Crossing the runway
I guess they just pull back the barbed wire when a plane is due in!
to see if it had gold teeth though! We were on the paved road this time so hired bikes to go and check out the main town, Moyogalpa, we stopped in town for lunch and to check out a book exchange, then stopped at a museum on the way back to see some archeological artefacts. We were shown round the museum personally by a guide, which was great, but he spoke so fast I couldn't understand everything (even after asking him to slow down) and as there was no written info in either Spanish or English we left with patchy info, it was nicely presented though. It was interesting to have to cycle right accross the runway as it cuts strait through the road! There is a barbed wire fence to stop you going up and down the runway and make sure you just cross it, I guess they just take it down when a plane is due and then put it back up afterwards! There are no problems, just solutions!
Tot: 0.083s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 12; qc: 59; dbt: 0.0565s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb
Graeme Le Monnier
Hi from Bormio, Italy, arrived Friday for a week to go walking in the mountains and no douby partake of some fine meats, cheese and vino (have to build up some energy for the next walk!) Not sure about kayaking in caiman infested water but it will make Seymour area seem rather dull. Wonderful to see and read about what you have been up to. take care Graeme