After the fun of Granada I was looking forward to going to Ometepe. Ometepe is a very small island made up of two volcanos, Conception volcano – which is active in the north, and in the south Maderas Volcano, which is where we were staying.
We got a bus (once we found the correct bus terminal) to the dock and met a Brazilian guy on the way, who thankfully could speak spanish and managed to stop us getting scammed for double the price than needed. The boat trip was actually rather enjoyable, it took a while to cross and we were one of the last people on it so had nowhere to sit and were squished down in the hull. It was an old ferry type and the noise (from the at least 50-year-old engine) was deafening and black smoke billowed up from in-between the wooden floorboards every five minutes or so. I went and stood outside, which most of the locals seemed rather alarmed at because as soon as they had got onboard they had all adorned life jackets.
While stood out there, watching the island come closer I met a Costa Rican girl called Sol and got chatting to her. Coincidentally Jake was talking to her boyfriend Will, inside. They hadn’t sorted a place to stay so we suggested our place, we were staying at a hostel called Monkey island and it was only $4 a night for room and breakfast. We got on really well so they joined us.
On the island we said goodbye to the brazilian guy who was staying in the north, and got on the last chicken bus – of only five trips the bus makes round the whole island. The bus was full when we got on, so they squidged us into the space at the back made to fit about 10 people and all our rucksacks and bikes and boxes, rather uncomfortably but manageable, they then fit 15 more people into that space, then breaking all laws of physics and personal space they fit 20 more people in! It was horrible, extremely stressful and cramped. I was literally nose to nose with about 30 people, our exit was the path of least resistance so anyone getting out had to come through, over, or under all of us. Then get on the same way, but by then it had started to pour with rain so they got on soaking wet. There were no real roads either, so we were bouncing and jerking around all over the place. By the end I was so stressed I was catatonic. After the two-hour journey then half mile walk with our rucksacks in the pitch dark to find our little hostel I couldn’t even speak
Once there however I managed to settle down. It was all open plan and very basic. They cooked us dinner which was delicious and only about $2.50. we looked in our room which was very basic, and decided to break the budget (haha) and spend an extra $2 a night and upgrade to a nicer bigger room with private bathroom which was extremely worth it. Walked into that room and was met with a huge, thankfully not poisonous tarantula on our doorstep blocking the way, now im not scared of spiders but that thing did make me jump. Thankfully it decided it didn’t want to stay the night… it was a cold fresh water shower too, heaven after the heat of the day.
Our first day all four of us went to climb San Maderas volcano, part way up to San roman waterfall. It was a 3km walk (it said) once you got there up to the waterfall, but that was the issue, it was all up and some of it really steep. We had to stop a lot because of the heat and trek and Jake wasnt feeling to well. We managed to get up to the last km – and that last km seemed to be triple the amount we had walked before. It was through the jungle so not a real path, jumping over logs, and wading through rivers, it was amazing scenery and lovely to listen to the birds but it was very hard work.
Once we got to the waterfall it was worth it, well I thought it was. About 260ft high and a little pool at the bottom to swim in which was extremely refreshing after the walk an absolutely freezing after about 30 seconds so the others didn’t stay in very long.
We were just getting dry and putting clothes back on when the heavens opened all of a sudden and it poured and poured, so strong that you could barely see 3ft in front of you. There was no point jumping over rocks to avoid getting our feet wet now. The path turned into a mudslide and we basically slipped all the way back. It was fun though. English people cope remarkable well in the rain.
On the next day we found the hotel was run by a family and there was a little girl here who showed me her bunny rabbits and some of the words she was learning in english, – I am Happy, I am sad, I am angry, I am sleepy. She loved it, doing cartwheels all over the place and chasing after rouge rabbits. She was at the age where she didn’t really get the gist of being gentle with the bunnies, but you could tell she loved them and were well cared for. I am scared of rabbits as a rule, (think I must have watched Watership Down too young) but these I could cope with.
We hired a canoe from the hostel and went canoeing out on the lake. It was very hard work, as no matter which way we went it felt as if we were fighting against the tide. There were some little islands we rowed to and we got out to have a look, and sure enough there were monkeys on them, hence the name monkey island, but there monkeys, unlike Costa Rica were not friendly at all. They came down screeching, shaking branches and swiping at us, very territorial, baring their teeth. We scampered as quickly as possible, a Capuchin monkey can bite off a human finger in one go and I would like to keep all mine.
After canoeing we swam in the lake. Its much cleaner near Ometepe than by Granada so was nice to do. We then face another animal attack of ants this time. All around our cabin. It was full of them, they were attracted by water in the sink and smell of the kitchen. Never seen so many in my life. Thankfully they didn’t make it too our room.
Our third day we met two girls from Luxembourg at the hostel who were travelling Nicaragua. Sarah and Philippine. We chatted to them a bit then out for lunch with Will and Sol. Everyone on Omepete knows everyone, I think the cafe we went to was ran by the hostel workers brother, and the little shop down the road by his wife’s cousin. Life feels very simple and pure and organic. Not easy mind, but nice. That evening we sat at the pier and watched the sunset before the rain came in.
We said goodbye to Sol and Will as they were leaving tomorrow, same as us but catching the 5am bus, we were lazy and caught the 8am one.
So the next day we got the bus back to the main pier, which was a lot less stressful than before, and got the boat to the mainland with Philippine and Sarah.
This time he boat trip was not fun. Right from the start it was listing to the side quiet dramatically and was a lot smaller and more fragile than the last boat. The wind blew strong too and it became the worst boat trip of my life. Both me and Jake genuinely thought it was going to capsize. It tilted over so far over at one point I could have sworn it couldn’t right itself, and Jake had an evacuation route planned. Our bags were on top too and didn’t know if they had been tied down so were afraid of losing them too. It was not pleasant, especially as there is bull sharks in the lake too. I could see now why all the locals put on life jackets as soon as they got on board.
we made it to the other side, kissed dry land and got another bus to the Apoyo Lagoon.
We said goodbye to the girls who were going to Managua and found our hotel which was right on the water of the lagoon. We had a little four-poster bed, tent thing as our room, out in the open air looking down onto the water. Basic but lovely. (The orange thing on the right side)
We got up early the next day, thanks to sleeping outside and the monkeys and cockerel, and went for a fresh morning swim. The place didn’t have many rooms, it mostly issues day passes, so we had the whole lagoon to ourselves for a bit which was magical. We used the hotels kayak and paddle boards and went around the edge of the lagoon (not all as its huge) and jumped off the floating platforms they had in the middle.
After lunch we went out on the canoes again, messing around and playing tag. Jake caught up to me and tried to board my canoe. He knocked me into the water and flipped my canoe over, while trying to right it, it fell again, but this time on my head. It hit hard and knocked me under the water, Jake had to pull me up and check I was okay as I was so dazed I just stayed half unconscious underwater. I couldn’t move or see straight or was able to get back on my canoe for a while.
(I don’t normally sound like that)
After that we decided we have enough time in the water and decided to slowly go in. I went for a lie down as I felt absolutely awful and inevitably it made me feel worse. Looking at my symptoms Jake realise I probably had quite bad concussion so got the taxi to the nearest hospital. I don’t actually remember any of this, apparently I wasn’t walking right, had a huge lump on my head, was forgetful and slurred my speech. I do remember that it was very difficult to communicate with a nurse in Spanish even with my translation app. They concluded that I’d hit my head and had a fever… great. They suggested to me all these pills for fever and ignored the concussion, so in the end me and Jake just went back to the hotel and waited until I felt better.
The next morning we left Apoyo and headed to Leon in the north of Nicaragua. Despite the bump, I really enjoyed Omepete and the lagoon.