Bill Clinton killed my chicken!

Trip Start May 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 31, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hospedaje del Bosque

Flag of Nicaragua  , Rivas,
Sunday, July 18, 2010

I apologize to those who have been reading my blog entries. I am about a month behind schedule. I only have about 8-10 more entries to write so if your interested, they will continue, Thanks for reading!

Anguished by our inability to hijack a Booze Cruise, we left San Juan del Sur defeated and dejected. Just kidding, we actually stayed an extra day and since SJDS is really small we had seen and done enough to declare victory so we moved on to Isla Ometepe.

Our dear friends Melissa and Drew Beckwith had spent a few days on Ometepe during a honeymoon vacation and raved about it. Also, everybody I've met in Nicaragua, even the locals say that it's a can't miss destination so off to Ometepe.

Ometepe is an island in Lake Nicaragua. The lake is known to locals as Lago Cocibolca (nahuatl for the "sweet sea"). Lake Nicaragua is also famous for being home to the only fresh water shark in the world, the Bull Shark. They are believed to have entered the lake from the Atlantic Ocean via Río San Juan. These days however, they are scarce after massive shark hunts in the 1970īs. The Island of Ometepe takes the shape of an infinity symbol or a figure 8. It is purportedly the largest island in a fresh water lake in the world. At one end of the island is Volcán Concepción, an active volcano and at the other end is Volcán Maderas which is dormant. All kinds of myths and legends surround the island; all I can tell you is that we loved the people and there was a picture postcard ready to be snapped around every corner.

Well anyways, from the Rivas bus station we grabbed a cab to San Jorge to jump the ferry to Moyogalpa on Isla Ometepe. The cabbie as usual was chipper and excited to have secured a fare. It cost us 60 córdobas for a 5-8km ride. I cannot say enough about the luck Iīve had with cabbies. Itīs always been good and Iīve never felt threatened or ripped off. The most dangerous thing about taking a cab is the actual ride itself, those can sometimes be quite scary! However, I have heard disturbing accounts of taxi kidnappings in Managua. Let me recount one to you as it was told to me. So...we had 2 Spanish girls stay at Casa Loca with us. They told Maiz, the landlord, that they were robbed in Managua. Apparently, they needed a cab and the cab they had unluckily chosen had an innocent looking lady in the passenger seat so both girls thought, it was a go! Itīs always a good sign when there is a lady is the cab right?! Wrong! Once the girls got in, the cabby drove around the corner and he allowed a male passenger to board the cab. Then they were driven to an undisclosed, desolate location and told at gunpoint that they needed to get their ATM cards ready because the kidnappers needed to make some withdrawals. After an hour or so of ATM withdrawals, the girls were driven to another desolate location. At this point, the bandits had been satisfied by their haul and decided that it was time to de-escalate the situation. They started by telling the Spanish girls that they were actually very "nice" criminals! They justified this by saying that they were going to let the girls keeps their passports. No one was going to get hurt. They warned them to be more careful when selecting cabs in the future because they might not be so lucky next time and they gave the girls 200 córdobas or $10usd for a bus ride somewhere. Iīm not so sure the Spanish girls felt very lucky having been relieved of a large amount of their travel fund. The moral of the story then would be, I donīt know, donīt assume that there is any rhyme or reason to getting robbed. It just happens, today itīs you, tomorrow itīs me.

So...anyways, we arrived at the ferry quite safe and sound. Nicole and I met two ladies in their 60īs that were also headed to Ometepe. One of the ladies approached me and questioned whether or not we had been forced to pay an impuesto (tax) to go to Ometepe. Since, we had just arrived, I told her that we hadnīt but 10 minutes later, we were also forced to pay the 50 cent tax. So...I tracked the lady down and told her that the tax was legitimate and she was relieved. She actually felt that she was getting swindled and she was about to make a stink about it. Thanks to me, the "stink" was avoided.

The ferry ride to Ometepe was very comfortable and quick. An hour later, around 1:30pm, we were in Moyogalpa, one of the main town on Ometepe. Nic and I had planned to take a 2 hour bus ride to Playa Santa Domingo but the cabbies rushed us and the hardsell was too hard too pass up. We actually found ourselves an English speaking cabby, again this was a nice break for me from the translation work. Our driverīs name was Ari and heīs about 24 years old. He was super friendly and he proved that right away. Both Nic and I were reluctant to ride his microbus but he convinced us that he could save us a couple of hours getting to Santo Domingo because we still had to wait for the bus and it was a 2 hour bus ride. Anyway, it was lunch time and both Nic and I were hungry so we asked Ari if he would take us to a restaurant as part of our ride. He said sure and drove us 300 yards to his friendīs restaurant. While we order food he asked if weīd mind if he went home to eat, we said no and he walked home to eat. Lunch took us about 45 minutes and like clockwork, Ari rode in on his bike as we paid his friend for lunch.

The ride from Moyogalpa was paved for the first 40 minutes but the last 20 was all dirt. As we rode around the island, we drove past Ariīs house and he pointed out his wife and daughter. He talked to us about how peaceful and pleasant the island is. He told us that no one locks their doors on Ometepe and he swears that no one owns a gun. Iīve heard the contrary but it is true that Ometepe is very safe, I mean, what are you gonna do, commit a crime and then swim off the island? Itīs a real tight community and crime is not tolerated.

Anyways, as weīre being chauffered around the island, Ari made a note to point out all the live baseball games. Baseball is the national past time of Nicaragua. I guess the Samoza family, the ruling family of Nicaragua for over 40 years, really enjoyed baseball and influenced the baseball viewership in Nicaragua. And now, baseball is number 1 in Nicaragua. Ari also told us that Ometepe was hit really hard by Hurricane Stan in 1998, in fact, Stan did so much damage to Nicaragua that President Clinton made a personal trip to the island to survey the damages. As all presidents have an entourage, Clinton rolled around Ometepe in a motorcade worthy of the leader of the free world. As his motorcade made its way through a small village on the island, an unlucky chicken chose the wrong moment to cross the road and "splat", dinner was served. According to Ari, our driver, President Clinton wanted to do the right thing, he wanted to find the owner of the chicken and make reparations, in short; he wanted to avoid an international chicken scandal. What the president was unaware of was that the owner of any livestock that causes damages to a vehicle is responsible for said damages. Well, in this case, the damages occurred to the vehicle of the most powerful man on the planet. How much does it cost to repair damages to the President's car, even minor damages? Let's just put it this way, no one wanted to find out. Well, after some much needed assurance, the villagers had been convinced that the President was not seeking payment for the damages to his vehicle so finally, a tiny old lady claimed the dead chicken as one from her flock. President Clinton told her that he wanted to pay her for the chicken that his vehicle had just "tenderized". She respectfully declined and told him that it was fine because her family would just have the chicken for dinner but William Jefferson Clinton insisted and finally she said the chicken was worth about 20-40 córdobas or about $2usd. Generously, the President gave her $50usd. The lady nearly fainted! $50 is about 2 weeks worth of groceries in Nicaragua plus, as previously mentioned, dinner was served. Now this is how you buy votes! Well, allīs well that ends well, right? As it turns out, word of the Presidentīs generosity and the womanīs good fortune spread throughout the island. On the Presidentīs return trip through that same village, he was greeted by citizens launching random chicken-missiles in front of his vehicle hoping to score $50usd. As Iīve said it before, these people are "smart"!

Okay, so in my opinion thatīs a pretty entertaining story but I also have a story Iīd like to share that wasnīt so entertaining. Remember what I said about annoying tourists, well Iīm starting to run into some of them as well and I donīt mean to pick on English speaking tourist but they just stand out more to me because Iīm English speaking. Anyways, they arenīt all from the US they just all happen to speak English. Okay, hereīs the "bad" story that Nic and I had to endure over a delicious meal at Villa Paraiso. As we were waiting for our meal to arrive, an American girl about 3 tables away felt that it was her duty to, not so subtly, share her stories of geographical conquests to the whole restaurant. You know what I mean, loud-talking, "oh Iīm sorry, am I disturbing you with my loud talking-voice?" Anyways, apparently she had climbed some hill and got terribly winded. In fact, she might have "died" because she was not used to the altitude. Then she laid it on us, she summited some hill that was about 1400 meters. Well, if you do the math, thatīs about 400 feet shy of Denverīs elevation. Sorry...but people generally donīt die acclimating to Denverīs altitude so please donīt yell your preposterous stories at me while Iīm waiting for my dinner. You can say it...Iīm a ass. Thanks for reading!

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