Gilligan's Island... Nica style!
Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
35Trip End Sep 03, 2008
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The border crossing was fine. As long as you are patient and remember that it will take the time it takes, it is not that bad. It's easier as well since we've now been there before and kind of know where to go and what to do. Also I have the better end of the deal here because everyone wants to come up and talk to me about the bike so I'm not as bored or busy as Jess tends to be at these crossings.
We only had a short ride from the border to the little port town of San Jorge where we were catching the ferry to Ometepe in the middle of Lake Nicaragua (just like the old man from Niely suggested!) The ferry was tiny, but fast, so we were on the island in about an hour from departing the mainland
OK, so from afar this island looks a little bit like "The Island" ( you Lost fans out there know what I'm taking about!) There are two volcanoes towering over emerald green jungle and strange animals running around everywhere...the volcanoes grew so large that they connected with each other along a narrow isthmus. Well...the animals are not that strange..mostly pigs, chickens, cows, and of course dogs. No polar bears or black smoke monsters but still!! People are poorer here, most houses are made out of wooden planks and black plastic sheets, they walk or travel by horse/donkeys most of the time. The road to our hotel was a really cool dirt/mud road and as soon as we got there we saw what we have been waiting for this whole trip...yes, monkeys!!!! Finally!!! There were four monkeys outside of our hotel including a baby one that was super squirrelly and whose mother needed to reprimand often!
This hotel is a little gem, we have our own cool bungalow equipped with a fridge and a hammock...what else do you need?? We spent today riding around the island checking out the locals as well as the flora and fauna. We found an "ojo de agua" on the way where we soaked up the sun and relaxed for a bit! I am so glad we took the old man's advice and went here...it has been a great little side trip for us.
Ok, Jess here....the ojo de agua is a volcanic mineral spring that the guy at the gate told us was the only fountain of youth in the world, and that it would make us feel 30 years younger. He was so convincing that it made me a bit worried...if his sales pitch held out, that would make me a 5 year old stuck with puny 1 year old for a wife!!!...I was hoping he was exaggerating...there's no way a kindergartner could navigate the Panama Prowler (the bike, submitted via blog comment previously by gschowe) back to Los Estados Unidos safely...anyhow, the place was wonderful...I packed a bunch of mud on my trench-foot feet and hoped for a better aroma in the days to come (for Malin's sake)
Yesterday, I'm sad to say, we had our first run in with an animal...at about 30 miles an hour, a small boy on a tiny donkey and his dog were walking along side the road, when his dog darted out in front of us...I slowed to about 25 miles an hour, but we nailed him...I felt him hit my boot and I wasn't sure if he caught anything else on the bike. I pulled over and got off my bike and started walking to the small boy...the whole time thinking about my childhood dog (Bummer, yes, that was his real name)...by then I saw that the dog had stopped limping and for the most part looked fine...I approached the boy, about 5 years old on the donkey which looked to be about 6 months old, and asked him if his dog was okay. He was so afraid of me, he didn't answer...I asked him again, and he looked at me and just said "Si". I felt super bad, and I actually had a nightmare that night...wherever I went the small boy was there on his tiny donkey...watching me! When I asked him what he was doing...he just said "Si"! Anyhow, when I remounted the bike and started to ride off, the same damn dog darted out again!!! We didn't hit him this time, but geez, not matter how used to it I get, driving/riding down here is nuts!!!
Anyhow, Nicaragua is a funny place...caught somewhere between the democratic and tourist friendly nation of Costa Rica, and the poorer war-torn states of Honduras and El Salvador, the latter of which is actually becoming an economic power-house in Central America. Nonetheless, it's great to be here, full-knowing that our next trip (whenever that's going to be) to Central America probably won't include Nicaragua...for a short vacation, it would just be too much work...and that's the great thing about this adventure, we get to experience everything! We just don't fly into Costa Rica and go zip-lining in the jungle canopy and fly home...we see/smell/feel every inch of the way from Ventura, California to the Panama Canal!