Let’s Play Catch Up: Ometepe

8 08 2011

So, after a month or so break from blogging, I think it’s best to pick right back up where we left off.  The last actual post (I’m not counting Miguel’s strange clip-art bear post) we were headed for the Ometepe Island in Nicaragua.  We spent three days there, and let me tell you, it was an interesting visit.

Ometepe Island

Ometepe is an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.  It has two volcanoes on it and it is quite a site to see.  Part of what made our Ometepe trip so adventurous was getting there.  We had to take (in order) a taxi, a bus, another taxi, a ferry, and then another taxi to our hotel.  The travel time was a good half day, and we were worried about making it at all.

When we left Granada, we knew that the Ometepe bus left only twice a day,  once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.  Essentially if we missed the morning bus, we were kind of screwed.  So, we woke up early and even opted to take a taxi to the bus stop, so we wouldn’t be late.  After running a few minutes behind (story of my life), we were driving through a crowded street in a taxi looking for our bus that wasn’t there.  Then, in true “Nica”style our taxi driver rolled down his window and yelled at a kid in the street and asked where the bus was.  The kid told us to follow him, and then immediately started running down the street.  A minute or two later, we turned on a busy highway.  We spotted the bus up ahead making a stop.  The kid was gaining on it, but the taxi driver took charge.  He drove right along the side of the bus honking and yelling all the while, and when the bus driver didn’t respond, he simply turned the taxi in front of the bus so it had no choice but to stop.  I paid the man, grabbed my bag, and ran to the back of the bus.  The kid running took my bag from me, threw it in the back of the bus and we took our seats.  Not without a few shocked stares from the locals on the bus.

We were the minorities on the bus, for sure

Ready for the ferry

Once we finally made it to our hotel, it was clear… we were not prepared for the heat or the amount of bugs on Ometepe.  We had also chosen to stay at a place called Finca Magdalena, which is a local co-operative farm that has been in business for many many years.  It’s a farm… so, we weren’t going to have A/C, room-service, or even a choice for dinner really.  To get out and see the town was quite a fiasco… both expensive and far.  We were in over our heads.

Finca Magdalena had quite a nice view

Hot and thirsty!

On the second day we tied up our mosquito nets, packed up all of our things… just in case,  and we trekked out of our hotel to find a bicycle rental shop.  We were going to look for the beach, and maybe a new place to stay.  The place we found that rented bicycles, wasn’t quite what we all had in mind for “bike rental shop”.  The woman had a few bikes, a few pieces of bikes, a few pigs, a loud television, a baby without clothes, bare feet and an exposed belly.  Again, you might wonder, “What the hell were you thinking?” and again, I might add, we were definitely in over our heads.  But, we had to get out and see the beach.  Without some kind of water activity and beer, we were going to roast.

I think we all kind of forgot how far the beach was from our hotel, but it became pretty apparent that it was a million miles away when we started riding our bikes on the most hilly, mud-puddle-boulder-filled road I have ever been on.  On top of all of this, there were pigs, chickens, young children, and old men all over the place and all equally ambivalent to our newly formed bicycle gang.  AND! Yes, there is more… Our bikes (don’t act surprised) were the worst bikes in history.  Miguel’s was missing a pedal.  Pam couldn’t reach her seat and her handle bars did some serious damage to  her hands.  My front tire was wobbly and my breaks didn’t work.  Miguel’s breaks didn’t really work either.  So.  You take all of that, add a million miles of hot-buggy, pedestrian/animal/boulder/hill-climbing and falling, and you have probably a really funny picture of all four of us, but we were miserable.

After making it to the beach, we cursed ourselves for paying money for those damn bikes, and seriously considered throwing them in Lake Nicaragua.  Needless to say, we were all a little crabby, and were quite happy to stay in the water and enjoy being lazy.  We had earned it after all.  We found a local place for lunch with fresh fish, cold beer, and free wi-fi, and we immediately began searching for a new place to stay.  One preferably right next to the water and with A/C.  We found one… we were actually right next to one.  The problem was that we had to get our things and come back, and it was getting late.  Our plan was to take a bus back to our hotel and a bus back.  Things fell apart quickly.  The busses weren’t interested in picking us up (our bikes were a big deterrent) and they didn’t run directly to our part of the island, so no matter what, we were going to be walking/riding/dangerously careening part of the way… we might as well ride back the whole way for free.  We were all miserable when we finally made it, but looking back, I know it must have been hilarious to see me riding down a rocky-ass hill with a piece of shit bike screaming at chickens and children the like to get the hell out of my way or I would loose it, for sure.  How ridiculous!

Damn bikes

That night, we ate dinner and scheduled a taxi ride in the morning to our new hotel.  We would go on to have one more night in Ometepe with A/C and an early wake up call.  We had a flight to catch to the Corn Islands.

Our "Taxi" ride into town

Our improved digs

-V

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