Ometepe Island and Apoyo Lagoon.

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.

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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.

Boquete 

We went to Boquete for six days, six glorious days that was a welcome break from our time with Irene.

After work we caught a bus from playa corona to Coronado and then one to David. It took an age, six hours or more and we weren’t sat together either. At one point we stopped at an immigration centre/ thing. Everyone had to show their identity cards, or whatever they had. Thankfully we brought our passports, three people didn’t, and had to be taken off of questioning, only saw two get back on, eek.

It was cold too, they put the Air con on so strong that people were putting on coats, even the drivers, but still refuse to turn the Aircon down. Jake thinks it’s like when you get something new you use it all the time, and that’s what happened with Aircon here, but then never got over it. Everything has to have the Aircon on full blast. This makes it feel so much hotter than it is as your constantly going from one extreme to the next.

David seemed okay. Had a look on Trip Advisor to see if we should stay a few days, but there is literally nothing to do. Got a hotel and found somewhere to eat. To Jake’s horror it was a fish restaurant, thankfully they also did chicken wings for him. On the way we also got chased by some very angry snarling dogs. I never thought to be more scared of the dog than a poisonous snake or scorpion in my bedroom.

Got to Boquete the next day and tried to find where we were staying, as it was an Airbnb. We didn’t know where was, and the directions were so bad that the taxi driver who lived there didn’t know where that was.

It took us two hours to find it, but once I did it was very nice. We had our own attic room, you can climb out the window to get onto the Veranda, and to get down can use a fireman’s pole. There is volley ball net and a swing, football goals, tight rope, pull-up bar, and a climbing rock walk under the stairs and a surfing balancer. Really cool.

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First day we got the bus up to Los Quetzales trial. The guy at the ranger station said it would rain so give us a cagoule and this huge bright yellow tarp thing, with a hole cut out of it for a head. Glad he did as it began to throw it down, hey it is the rainforest, lots of bugs and birds specially ladybirds loves the yellow thing.

We did not see any of the Quetzales birds, which is what the trail is named after, but it is the wrong time of year, most of the way was all led by stepping-stones, and a rope bridge which scared the hell out of Jake. I found it quite fun, but on the way back it absolutely poured, the cagoule did nothing, except it let the rain through at the bottom and soak down into my shorts, down my legs, and into my shoes.  I felt the squelch my trainers the whole way back ugh.


The next day was better, we went to the Jungela De Panama Wildlife Refuge. It was free and small, kind of like somebody’s back garden but all the animals seemed really well cared for, they had all been rescued from being hurt or being abused as pets by the owners.

Firstly there was a parrot with a twisted wing so it couldn’t fly, He was quite talkative, although it was in Spanish, so couldn’t understand him anyway. Next to spider monkeys Daisy and Lalita, which we could feed, Peanuts seemed to be their favourite. Next a small Capuchin monkey, she had only been there for 4 days and just want to cuddle, she liked sitting on my shoulders and was very interested in Jake’s water bottle. There was also parakeets, a hawk, chickens, rabbits, an owl, and a turtle that you got to feed, a little snapping thing that was so fast you could easily lose the tip of your fingers.

There was a goat there that like to run around and ram you if you did not give him attention, a few dogs and cats, and there was also a very mischievous raccoon, who we had to walk around on the leash. He liked to play and climb up Jacob and nip his fingers. Not every day you get to walk a Racoon on a leash, there are a lot stronger than they look. Most of the time I spent with Daisy the howler monkey. She had been abused as a pet, she likes to have her back stroked, and so she held onto me with her tail very tight, and held my hand with one of hers. She would get very annoyed with me if  I  stopped. When it was time and  I tried to leave, she jumped down – quick as a flash – and wrapped here tail through my sandals so I could not leave. She was beautiful.


Day three was just rain. It pored so heavy you could barely see three feet in front of you. Jake had to carry me down the road as it had flooded so bad.

Next we went to the Tuesday market.  There was about 30 stalls, and nearly all of them were run by American expats. Most of it was very posh jewellery or knives or coffee or delicacy foodstuffs that was extortionate expensive, especially nine dollars for single sausage!

We didn’t stay very long, so instead went to the lost waterfalls hike, The hardest part was the entrance, it was so steep. There were three waterfalls in all, up to the first one the path was really well maintained, to the second you can just about see it, and to the third waterfall the path was non-existent. The first falls you couldn’t get close to, you could see the rainbow through it and it was the tallest. Second was the most spectacular, you got really close and could paddle if you wanted. At the third I slipped on a rock and fell into the water, my trainers had just about dried out, but now full of water again. Would need flippers soon.


Boquete was the perfect getaway we needed, and reminded us why we were travelling, the waterfalls and mountains, animals and people. Here was a little slice of fun and paradise. I need. I got to relax and recharge for going back to playa corona and ready for our next step…

Costa Rica.

Time of my life.

The last few weeks in Jamaica were some of the best I’ve ever had. The people, the friends, the sun, sea and lifestyle overall, (especially working only four hours a day) and activities we did, made it so much fun. I can’t say Jamaica was my favourite place I have ever been, but right there and then, it was what I needed.

(I apologise for missing last weeks post, but I did not have the means to so.)

After work I went swimming, a lot, I often went with Canadian Michael to a mahogany beach. It wasn’t anything special, but you could swim out to sea for miles as it was so shallow – you could still put your feet down nearly all the way. The fact that the floor was covered in urchins was the reason I didn’t.

One day, we were in the water and a huge thunderstorm came over which was amazing experience, to swim through ocean with lightning and thunder going off overhead. We had to shelter in a juicy patties – which are delicious – in order to get dry and get a taxi. Jake was not so lucky and no taxi would take him, so he had to climb this huge hill in the pouring rain; which at some points is so steep you can put your hands out on the road in front of you. Poor Jacob, at least he got a free beer out of it as the Jamaicans were very amused at seeing anybody in the rain.

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The fresh air, healthy eating, active work and active days were really good for my health, body and mind as they say. I lost quite a bit of weight actually, but I also lost the skin off the top of my toes when I decided to go running with Michael down the hill. Running has never been my sport, and I am fully aware it never will be. It took a long time from my toes to heal and it hurt just to walk anywhere.

My feet were not as bad as my legs though, from my knee downwards, it seemed my legs had become an all-you-can-eat buffet for every mosquito in a 50 mile radius. I have never really been eaten by mosquitoes before, and i was happy to kept it that way. Bug spray and aloe vera did little to deter them, while Jake got off scot-free from the little blighter’s. You could have done a dot-to-dot puzzle on my legs at the end.

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I mentioned before about the animals that we had at the farm. While we were there both the rabbits and chickens had babies. The rabbits had three, but sadly, out of fear of the mongoose, which would not have been able to get to her, she killed them all.

The chickens however, had six chicks which were the most adorable little things ever. One day, they all escaped! Me, Jake and the two new Canadians – Christine and Murray had to run around in the dwindling light to try to catch them all and put them back, so they couldn’t get eaten by something. Thankfully, we managed to get them all back bar one who had died probably from shock or the fall. The others, after two hours or more, was safely inside the cage for the remainder of our time.

We also had some trouble with mice. Lise’s brother had this nice goats milk soap, which every mouse and the surrounding area it seemed to very much enjoy. Getting annoyed at this constant invasion, he manage to catch one, and the next day paraded it’s around, saying he was going to torture it to teach the rest of the mice a lesson, which was totally ridiculous in my mind. I told him so, and then, in no uncertain terms I was told I was a silly little girl who should keep to her own business as I know nothing. (never knew how alike to Jon Snow I was).

Luckily Michael managed to get the mouse and free it. He also noticed how upset I had got, and from then on whenever a mouse was caught I was allowed to let it go far away. This placated me, Jake however never got on with him after that.

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We did a few tours and activities while we were there. We went to the blue hole again for the third time as we enjoyed it so much. That time Michael decided to see if we can walk it. If you went the right way, this option would be quite possible – however we did not – we walked for hours, and hours, and hours and it was not fun. However we did get there in the end, even if we did have to go under a colony of banana spiders.

We also went to Dunns River Falls. It is one of the most famous attractions in Jamaica. Personally I preferred Konoko falls. It wasn’t too expensive to get in, but there are signs everywhere about buying or wearing water shoes. We didn’t have any and you we were not going to spend $12 each to get some, so we had to sign a waiver that we were not going to sue if I cut my toe. Every single worker thereafter asked if we had sign this waiver.

The first time we went up, you were asked to go with a group, no issue, the problem was they made everyone hold hands with the person in front of them and behind them, which was just ludicrous. For one, you are climbing up some quite heavy waterfalls and you have a person in front of you dragging you up, and one person behind you dragging you down, they said it was to help each other just made everything more difficult, especially to balance. Quite a lot of people with autism that I know are quite uncomfortable with some amount of physical contact, I can cope, but holding wet clammy hands with two complete strangers while in my bikini was not fun for me.

The second time up me and Jake went ourselves and it was a whole lot better. We managed to get to the secret stairs on the other side of the waterfall. It was hard to breathe and the water came down so strong in made your legs heavy to lift, but it was really fun to do.

One day we went to Kingston to see the farmers market with Michael to sell his products. The ride there was really fun, we went over the mountains and it was beautiful. In Kingston we were going to go to the Bob Marley museum but that was closed as it was so early. One of the other volunteers had been a few times and she said some of the authentic pieces had changed each time. So we gave it a miss. We then went to the Devonshire house which was also closed because it was a weekend, so basically just wandered around most of the time. Kingston was so so much hotter than anywhere else we have been, we weren’t there long enough to pass a fully informed judgement, but I’m glad we spent most of the time in Ocho Rios.

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We did quite a few fun things at the farm too. Colin the chef made cassava pizza bread, they had a proper wood fire pieces oven too so we had a pizza night for a few nights. One of them quite unexpectedly as a lot of people decided to come over and have a party, it was loud which is something I struggled with but I did enjoy it.

Something else I struggled with was the banana bread. In Jamaica people  put weed into everything. I have heard of weed brownies, but not weed banana bread. So when I had the banana bread I got extremely high. I was fine, went into town to get Pizza Hut and then suddenly I wasn’t fine. It felt like my head was filling up with helium and by the end of the night I was catatonic. I could not speak or eat or walk. I thought I couldn’t breathe and was eventually I was sick. Jake had to basically carry me home. It is something I had never tried before and would never try again.

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One of the days the organisation JOAM – Jamaican organic agriculture movement, have their meeting at the farm on world Earth Day, I quickly drew a picture to celebrate, Colin liked it so much I did a portrait of him for a gift too. The meeting was okay to listen to, but what I really enjoyed was witnessing the Jamaican National Anthem. I feel very thankful to have witnessed it, as it is quite special, not something many vacationers would get to experience.

Our time in Jamaica was a very special experience, it was the beginning of our journey and we couldn’t have a better start; I think that’s mostly down to Michael and Lise and I’m very grateful, when the time came to leave again we didn’t want too, and Michael made a joke about stealing our passports, but he kindly drove us down to the airport and gave us a send off, the night before he bought Champagne/wine especially for us, and we played dominoes, all of us losing miserably against him.

Our fifty-something days had come to an end and we set off to Panama.

Let the next step begin.

Hell to Heaven – Ocho Rios pt 2

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Workaway, so far, has been excellent for us. It has given us a way to travel (without breaking the bank…hopefully), and live in the real life of these countries and cultures. The only downside is, you do have to spend some of your time working which isn’t for everyone, but you do get a lot of time off to have fun, and the working side seems to make everything more authentic and a real experience. If your lucky you will meet hosts such as Michael and Lise who make your time with them so great it doesn’t matter. (Also it will hopefully took good on my CV)

As I said last, we arrived on Sunday. After work the following day we went into Ocho Rios town. Not for anything in particular. Just to look around and get a feel for the place. It instantly made me feel a lot safer than in Montego Bay. We didn’t stay long, we were tired, but I do remember the ice cream. My love of ice cream could match Joe Biden’s and I had one nearly everyday. If you are in Jamaica I do recommend the Devonshire House. It is the way to go, especially Black Cherry. Tuesday was the same. Hanging out with Marco and Chris, playing cards and teaching them Mills; but on Wednesday they got a puppy!

There were a few animals already at the farm. Dogs, Tyler and Brando, a few chickens and that evil rouster. A goat I named granny, and a cat – Tipi. Tipi was small, bossy and liked sitting on your shoulder and digging in his claws. He also liked bread. In the Sunday we arrived we had brought a loaf of bread and some other things. Ten minutes of it being left alone in the room and Tipi had found it, ripped through the plastic bags and ate about five slices. Not whole ones, just select corners. You could get him to do almost anything if bread was involved.

On Wednesday, Lise went out for work in the morning. Michael popped out and came back with the most tiny puppy. She could easily fit in the palm of his hand. Where she was she wouldn’t have survived. Not well looked after and the smallest in a cage of bigger animals. I fell in love. Late that evening, Lise came home and saw her fast asleep in my lap. The look of shock was fit for a comedy film.

“What is this?”

“Ask Michael” I said.

Oops. someone is in the dog house.

Lise did not know about the puppy, and she wasn’t allowed a Donkey which she proclaimed very unfair, don’t think she wanted it really, was quiet funny to hear her protest though. The puppy was so cute you couldn’t help falling in love with her. They named her Tash. The other dogs were very jealous of the attention she was getting, but got used to her slowly. She liked to play bite, which was cute at first, but her little sharp puppy teeth hurt. Went straight through my dress and she had a liking for Michael’s shoes.

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Our first week we went to the Blue Hole. It’s a set of waterfalls and rivers that you get to jump off, absail down, swim through and rope swing across. It was awesome. Me, Jake, Marco and Chris went. It was great. They highest jump was just over 20ft, which the boys don’t desperately want to do – so I went first. Nearly lost my bikini but was very fun anyway.

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We met a lot of people while we were there. Lises brother and an Air B&B; but other workaways too. Isabel was the first person we met. Only with us for a few days but lovely to talk to. She was from Germany too, (we met lots of Germans in Jamaica) and she was working with J.O.A.M for her university course.  (Jamaican Organic Agricultural Management.)

Manu – German, Fedricka – Italian and Michael – Canadian, all came on the next Sunday. Jake’s birthday. We had already been to the beach with Isabel and that night we all went out to a proper Jamaica jam session, with one of the local men we had met while working, we knew him as Spinal. Jake was so drunk by the end of it they got him to dance and sing (well, more like butcher) Bob Marley on karaoke.

They also said that me and Jake should be married by now and have Jacob Jr on the way. They added some rather graphic sex tips to help with the matter too.

Jake was so hung over the next day he spent most of the time lying in the grass moaning.

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In Ocho we went to a few different beaches, Mahogany beach was our favourite (it was also free as an added bonus). We went there one day with Marco and Chris and met a Rasta Man. He told us all about his beliefs and that the earth is the woman that brings life, the sky is the man and rain being the sperm. Women like the earth, need to be honnered, respected and looked after.  He offered all this up very freely without our asking, not sure how we even go to the conversation to be honest, but was interesting non-the-less. After we had to get a drunk Marco and Chris back home and stop them from walking off with a kids shirt and selling there shoes for weed.

We went to Turtle river park, where as you can guess we saw turtles; and Konoko Falls. Another set of waterfalls where you have to navigate them to climb up. I dealt very well with the sudden cold of the water and wet leaves around my feet. While there you could also see the gardens and a little museum. Konoko was the last day. So on that night we went out for a meal and had this lime and coriander chicken. It was very good but neon green in colour which was a bit strange

Overall we had the most amazing time there and didn’t desperately want to leave after only two weeks. After a tough start in Jamaica they had made it a perfect. I was in much better spirts on the way to a next workaway in Boston – Jamaica. At least it’s the origin of jerk chicken, which is something to look forward to.