Anyhow, we made a few more stops in El Salvador at the end of January/beginning of February (Suchitoto, San Salvador, and Playa el Cuco) and then had quite the adventure down through Honduras and into Nicaragua, the majority spent in the back of a pickup truck
. We arrived in Leon, an awesome bustling colonial town in the north of Nicaragua. It was there we met up with the boys, and spent time there, at the beach in Las Penitas, then on to Granada (another beautiful colonial town), then Laguna Apoyo, and then, the topic of this entry, Isla de Ometepe...an island smack dab in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. I decided to make the Nicaragua entry about this special place because it is the quintessential spot in Nicaragua, and one of the most unique.
We arrived via ferry and rented a couple of motor bikes, since many of the towns and sites are spread out around the island. We checked out some local villages, veered off onto dirt roads lined with banana trees and small houses where pigs, cows, chickens, and naked babies all ran around outside as their parents looked on from the porch, gathering to sit and chat (and to escape the unbearable heat). We spent time swimming in the perfect waters, visited Ojo de Agua (a hole in the earth filled with water of volcanic origin, which apparently can take years off of your life after just one dip).
The highlight of the trip was the hike up to the top of Volcano Maderas...and let me tell ya, we've all been on some pretty challenging treks, but this was BY FAR the most difficult hike of all of our lives
. We started out strong, moving our way through the dry and dusty base, on a very well maintained trail. Soon, things started getting greener, misty-er, and more beautiful. We were entering into the cloud forest! We were surrounded by trees, vines, vines on top of vines, moss, and we even spotted a group of spider monkeys. We continued on, forewarned that we would "be in mud up to our knees" by the time we got close to the top. The trail became completely unmarked, and was a totally natural rocky STRAIGHT uphill climb through wet, muddy pebbles, boulders, and tree roots (verrrrrrry slippery). We were climbing at some points, on our hands and knees. After about 4.5 hours, we finally made our way to the top, which didn't have a view, but did have an awesome crater lake that formed where the opening to the volcano used to be. The lake was surround by thick, lush, green vegetation and it was there we finally saw other hikers, there to rest and take it the tranquil and pristine scene. We were literally in the clouds, watching them whoosh by us overhead. If we thought the way up was hard, the way down was even more treacherous. Our leg muscles were shaking uncontrollably after hours of slippery downhill muddy rocks during which we all fell at least three times...black pants, brown mud...you get the picture. We had never been so happy to see flat land in our lives, and we rushed off for a cold beer and a big dinner, exhausted and delirious but feeling very accomplished.
We left Ometepe the next day, and headed to San Juan Del Sur to spend a week...after that, it was on to Costa Rica, which you can read about very soon in my next entry!
I know what you're thinking...but no, I haven't been kidnapped, eaten by a jungle creature, or fallen off the grid...I'm alive and well, and sending you all apologies for being so VERY far behind in updating my blog. For the sake of my own sanity, I won't be doing entries for the majority of my time spent in Nicaragua (1 month) and Costa Rica (10 days). These archives will forever be stored in my brain and on the SD card of my camera--you'll have to ask me about it when I get back to the States! That being said, my excuse for not maintaining this thing for so long is that Danny and Tom were down here visiting for 5 weeks, which left us with little free time.