Dave's Sick Again!

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Saturday, July 29, 2006

In Granada we had picked up a flyer about a really amazing sounding hostel on this island and so had to check it out. Ometepe is a very undeveloped island and apart from the main couple of port towns everywhere else is almost cutoff.

To get to the hostel in Merida we had to catch the early morning chicken bus at 10:30 to travel the 10km or so. I know what you're thinking. 10km's is nothing, wouldn't take any time. Wrong! This was the journey from hell!

The chicken bus was incredibly old, the suspension was non existent, the seats were completely unpadded and to make matters worse it was a mud track road with pot holes the size of moon craters! Still it's only 10km's. Shouldn't take that long? 2 hours later we finally pulled into Merida, a couple of small buildings next to the dirt track. First impressions weren't good after what had been the most uncomfortable ride of my life.

Thankfully after walking a short distance down a dirt track we stumbled upon the Hacienda Merida and it was exactly like I had pictured it! Total hippieville but it's what I wanted at this stage of the trip. I just wanted somewhere in the middle of nowhere to just swing in a hammock for a few days and relax. This place was perfect!

The Hacienda Merida is backpacker heaven and you can't miss out if you go to Nicaragua! They offer climbing trips to Volcan Maderas to see the crater lake, kayak rental, horse riding, bike rental, trips to waterfalls, Spanish lessons ($8 3 hours), volunteer projects at the local schools and all you can eat buffets! This is a full on backpackers resort. $4 a night in the dorms. I loved it instantly and planned to stay here for quite a while.

After checking in and filling out the forms (tab system) I ordered some BBQ chicken for lunch and went off for a walk to the lake. Lago de Nicaragua isn't the cleanest water I've ever seen, it's brown, but here in Merida it was far clearer. Clearer than the river I swam in at Taman Negara, Malaysia anyway! Made my way back to the table and started reading the rule book. Yes, it may be a hippie style commune but they make you read some rules. It basically tells you that climbing the volcano without a guide is stupid and you will get lost. It goes into great detail about a couple of British backpackers who went alone and never came back. Well I assume they didn't as the second page of the e-mail was missing and the first page said the search and rescue helicopters were looking for them after 8 days.

Lunch was fantastic, one of the best meals in Central America, and I couldn't wait for the full on buffet in the evening! Decided I was here to relax so found one of the huge hammocks and spent a couple of hours swinging away in bliss. I sat around chatting to the others in the hostel and booked a trip up the volcano for tomorrow morning.

But then all hell broke loose. Dave was sick (again!) and feeling the same symptoms as when he contracted Dengue Fever in Cambodia. Fantastic! I wasn't best pleased but we bundled into a Jeep taxi and shot off towards the hospital on the island without even paying for the lunch! I hadn't wanted to ride on this road again for at least a few days yet I was doing it for the second time in 4 hours.

After nearly 2 hours of chatting to Dave to stop him from thinking about his predicament (he was pretty scared) we arrived in the main town of Moyagalpa and went straight to the hospital. After about 30 minutes they diagnosed him with a virus that was going around the island and admitted him for the night. Seems there was something bad in the air as there were 3 foreigners in the hospital and another from Merida got sick the day after we left!

The next 2 hours saw my rushing around town getting everything in order. I managed to get a bunk in the terrible Hostal Central. Honestly this dorm room was horrible! The beds were so small that the mattresses curled up at the ends as they didn't fit. That sorted I had to go to a pharmacy and get his medication (as they didn't have it at the hospital), get him some snacks/water (as they didn't have it at the hospital) and visit an Internet cafe to make a phone call to his parents to tell them what happened. My money was fast running out and I was getting worried that I would get stranded on the island as there is no ATM!

Worst of all I managed to leave my camera at the Hacienda Merida! This meant I would have to spend the entire day tomorrow on the worst roads in Central America just to get it back. Thankfully when I rang them they had found it and would keep it safe for me.

So, after visiting Dave again to drop everything off and tell him about losing the camera I headed back to the hostel before getting some much needed dinner in town, a couple of well deserved beers and some TV before bed. I didn't think holidays were supposed to be stressful!
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