Ometepe Island

Twin volcano peak island
Moyogalpa, Nicaragua


I didn’t sleep too well last night. Far too hot.

We were heading off at 8.30am this morning – ready for a chicken bus!

The local buses across much of Central America are old US school buses – mostly yellow, some painted other colours. And usually jam packed full of people, all down the aisles and hanging out of all the doors.

The buses are called chicken buses, as they can be used to transport people with their chickens. And there was one guest appearance of a chicken!

We walked to the bus station which took around half an hour, through the local markets. Mangos and avocados spilling out onto the streets, clothes being sold, barbers cutting hair and bread being carried by on the heads of women. It was really busy! But pretty cool!

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The bus station was just a small muddy field with enough room for around 3 buses!

Ours was already waiting and we jumped on before it filled up too much. So luckily ended up with seats! Obviously designed for small people, it was quite hard to sit down!!

At 9.30am, we were off. Luckily not too busy! All seats were taken, but not too many standing. It was a right squeeze driving the bus through the narrow market street! But we were soon out of the city and whizzing through the countryside. Stopping every now and then to pick up more people and food hawkers who made their way through the busy bus selling biscuits, empanadas and sweets.

The bus cost $1.

As we continued, we picked up more and more people! And it became very busy. It took an hour and a half to reach the port town of Rivas. Here, the bus station was chaotic! People and stuff moving around everywhere. We swapped onto a smaller mini van and made our way, very slowly through the narrow market streets to the port.

It wasn’t very far, but we moved so slow that it took half an hour!

Apparently the ferry over to Ometepe island is broken. So we had to get a boat.

It was the oldest boat ever. And very scary!!! The water was choppy and the boat was packed full of people, and creaking. We set off at 12.30pm and it was terrifying.

We were creaking and swaying side to side. I did not like it!!!!! After 1 hour it was over. Thank goodness!!!

And we had arrived at Ometepe island.

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This island is made of 2 volcanos – Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Madera and located in the massive Lake Nicaragua.

The town we arrived into was Moyogalpa – a small town on the Western side of the island. From there, it was a 10 minute drive to the small village where we are staying. Here, we are staying with local families.

So were divided into new groups (I’m in a group of 3 girls) and allocated to a family! We met our ‘mother’ (Susanna, 49 years old) and ‘son’ (Fernandito / 4 years old) and made our way to the house! It’s a cute little house – and we were given a tour! In the main house is a large lounge / dining room, a washing up / utility room and 2 bedrooms. Then out the back is a bathroom and kitchen and a few other bedrooms. And a load of chickens and pigs running around! It was nice!

We had some late lunch, at 3pm, rice and a pasta salad! Then we waved goodbye to our family for the afternoon and headed to the community centre! A beachside building, with wifi and hammocks!!

At 4.30pm, we headed off down the coast to Punta Jesus Maria. A 10 minute drive away. I was really surprised when we passed a small airport!! Apparently just for emergencies though – there are no scheduled flights here.

The beach was so pretty. There was a long black sand spit reaching out into the water – and once you were on it and looked back, there was a lovely view of the Concepcion volcano!

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Apparently the volcano has had recent tremors and is emitting much more sulphur than normal. A little scary – given the earth quakes in Nicaragua last week! It was really pretty. We watched the sunset – lovely!!

We had dinner at 6.45pm. They had made us some gallo pinto (i.e. Rice and beans!) with some fried cheese (it’s very strong and salty here) and fried plantain (love this!!). With some hibiscus juice. I was very full!

After dinner, we played with some toy cars and animals on the floor with the little boy until it was his bed time at 7.30pm. We headed back down to the community centre and swapped family stories with the rest of the group!

It started to get cold – and was pitch black. So a nice early bed time at 9.30pm!!

 

The morning was noisy – lots of chickens and dogs and cows. But I managed to sleep through most of it! We had breakfast with our family again – rice and beans! Then we walked back to the main centre.

We are off on a ‘lazy’ tour for the day. It was possible to do a volcano hike, but I didn’t fancy it!! And it’s not possible to go all the way up the volcanos at the moment as there have been tremors and the country is on an earthquake / volcano warning.

So off in a van for a drive around the island. There is a circular ring road running around the circumference of the island. After about 20 minutes, we stopped at the lagoon of Chargo Verde.

Here we went for a walk for 90 minutes around the small park and the lagoon. We saw lots of wildlife – white faced monkeys, howler monkeys, great egrits, came toads and tadpoles, a lake cichlid fish, lots of insects and a snake. It was pretty – we went to a view point and have a lovely view of the lagoon.

The next stop was the petroglyphs. These are rock carvings from the Mayan times. When the volcano erupted, many large stones were emitted and thousands of years ago people carved drawings on them. Today some of the carvings are still visible – we saw a person, a monkey and another that no one knows what it is – could be another monkey, or a snake squashing it’s prey!

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For lunch we stopped of at the ‘tropical beach’ of Santo Domingo. The guy told us it was a white sand beach, with crystal clear waters. The reality – a grey sand beach with muddy, wavy water!!

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Lunch was good – we all shared platters – salad, cheese, beans (of course). Was tasty!

Then went for a swim. The lake has bull sharks. We went quite a long way out, but only managed to get around a foot deep in water!! It was nice and warm. But ended up very wavy, so we headed off.

The next stop – Ojo de Agua. A natural, mineral water swimming hole. This was really pretty! Set in the jungle, crystal clear waters – rather cool. And stalls set up around the edges selling coco loco (a coconut, with rum added to it to make a drink!). The water got a bit chilly after a while! Then we headed back to the village, and arrived around 4.30pm. The sun was beginning to set and the cows were strolling around on the beach! It was pretty. We all had dinner together on the beach, I had salad and root vegetables and of course some beans and tortilla! Everyone goes to bed early here, so by 8pm we were back at the house and getting ready for bed!! I was asleep by 9pm. Amazing!

 

This is the house we stayed at, and our ‘mother’ for the few days we were there:

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