Back in time - Isla Ometepe

Trip Start Dec 30, 2013
Trip End Mar 25, 2014

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Flag of Nicaragua  , Rivas,
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 37 - Tuesday 4th February

We eventually persuaded ourselves to leave San Juan del Sur. Next destination was Isla de Ometepe. This was two conjoined islands in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. There are two volcanos on these islands. One is active and erupted around 20 years ago, the other is dormant.

It wasn't too much of a trek from San Juan - 30 min taxi to the boat port in Rivas and then an hour on the boat. We hadn't exactly figured out how we were going to get to our planned hostel on the other side but no doubt there would be some willing taxi men to take us there. As we got off the boat there were a couple of Chicken busses lined up - maybe we'd be making our maiden voyage on the chicken busses today?! Taxis were charging 10 times the price of the chicken bus so it was a no brainer really. And the 'conductor' promised we would go to Santa Cruz so on we got! Chicken busses are widely used in Guatemala & Nicaragua. They are literally old school busses from the USA (the big yellow ones from the 60s) that have been resprayed on the outside and sent down south. They're the public busses and often have people jam packed into them with limbs sticking out the windows for space (maybe that's a slight exaggeration but you get the picture - serious overcrowding!) They are notorious for breaking down / turning up late / not turning up at all, so up until now we've always taken the easier and much more expensive route of getting shuttles (minibuses) between our destinations. But today was our lucky day on the chicken busses! In fairness it was a grand journey, we were standing, and kicked off the bus at one stage to change to another but it was grand, worth every cent of the $1 we paid! We hadn't a hostel booked in advance but we ended up staying in Little Morgans (popular backpackers place). It turns out Morgan, the owner, is a former Blackrock boy that's been living in Nicaragua for the past 10 yrs or so. He was a mental rugby head. We would be getting along just fine for the next few days!

We didn't really do much that afternoon. Went for a bit of a wander but the distance between everywhere and the heat got the better of us so we came back to the hostel for a swim. It backed onto Lake Nicaragua, which was freshwater so it cooled us down nicely.

That day on the island there was a Survivor race being held. This thing sounds crazy, worse than any Ironman or Ultra-marathon. Basically the race ran for 24 hours straight - yup one full day! Participants had to first swim 500m to get an egg and then swim back. They then had to run around the shores of the island, on the banks of the lake, the they then had to climb the two mountains, one in the dark, they slept there and then the other one the following morning...all the while keeping their precious egg intact! I think there were about 50 participants...4 people finished it! Anyway this was all kicking off this afternoon so a gang of us from the hostel went down to the lake where they would be passing to cheer them on! A few sociables were had up there til it got dark and more were had back at the hostel bar after dark!

Day 38 - Wednesday 5th February

A few fragile heads surfaced the following morning. Not surprising really since the drinking games last night started with 'Roxanne'! No need at all really but sure the damage is done now! No one was allowed wallow in their hangover as we were going exploring today. Shuttle arrives and off we go.

Two points of interest on Ometepe were on our agenda for the day. These were (i) San Roman waterfalls and (ii) Ojo de Agua. The waterfalls were on the smaller, less developed island. It was to take us about an hour to get there, even though they were only 30km away. The roads were chronic! Safe to say the shuttle managed to get above 30km/ph about twice! Brilliant journey with 10 fragile bodies in the backseats. We had the shuttle being us as far as was physically possible but we still had to hike 1km to reach the waterfall. What a bleedin hike! Safe to say every drop of alcohol was sweated out of us, we were turning back on numerous occasions, but we powered through (we're such troopers!!) and my god was it worth it. The waterfall is spectacular. Huge! 35 meters high to be precise! Had a little dip to cool down and all was right with the world again!!

Once everyone eventually got down from the waterfall we were told it was onwards to Ojo de Agua. These were natural swimming pools. Sounds lovely but by now it was 2pm and we were starving! The driver promised us there would be a restaurant when we got there! There was a restaurant, but as with any tourist attraction it was crazy expensive (for Nicaraguan prices) and very limited choice and when we ordered it took an hour (60 very very long minutes) for our food to come. This meant it was now close to 5pm, the sun had gone off the pools, it was now cold in the water and the driver would be back for us in 15 mins. You can imagine the grumpy heads on us all going back to the hostel! All in all a good day though, the waterfalls were definately the highlight!
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