Island of Ometepe

This month we had the chance of going to visit Ometepe Island, which is really not far at all from Tola. In fact, from some parts of town one can see the principal volcano on the island, Volcan Concepcion.

Jean and I along with my sister and her family went together, cramming 6 of us in a small car. Our trip started early in the morning as we left from Tola for the port of San Jorge near Rivas. I was really surprised to see how different the transportation systems are here on the Pacific than on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, and felt a bit sad for the people on Corn Island and what they have to put up with.

To get to Ometepe, one can take a ferry from San Jorge. There are several different boats run by different businesses that travel several times every day, usually once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The boats are very large and also comfortable and well maintained. You can also take your car, so we hopped out just before my brother in law drove onto the ship, where he was told to cram it into the corner so tightly the doors wouldn't open, so he had to get out of the passengers side door.

El Rey

Deck 4
The boat we went on was called "El Rey" or "The King" in English, which we read in some places was the nicer of the boats, and it certainly was a nice one. There are 4 decks, the top being open air with benches, and the other floors having more comfortable padded seats and tables, but being closed in by windows. The lower deck also had a small store selling phone credit as well as snacks. The trip to the Island takes about one hour, and is generally very calm as it is across a lake rather than the ocean.

Deck 3
The trip costed about 50 Cordobas per person, and as we came into view of Ometepe we had some breathtaking views of the two volcanoes that make up the island.




Jean giving me attitude

What stood out about the Island the moment we arrived was how lush and green it is. It is the rainy season, and its true that all of Nicaragua is relatively lush and green. But something about Ometepe takes it to another level. Not only are there a lot of trees but they are also huge. Perhaps it is due to the local government's strict rules on protecting the islands ecology, or maybe because of the rich volcanic soil. Whatever the case, this place is intensely green, and everywhere you go you are overwhelmed by the majestic view of the enormous volcanoes. I really had no idea of how big they were until we got closer. For perspective, the larger volcano was even visible from our balcony in Jinotepe.







Jean has always been a bit nervous about volcanoes, talking about stories she always heard about Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. I kept reassuring her that although Concepcion (the bigger one) is indeed active, its not "that kind of volcano". To reassure her further that it was safe I did some research on volcanoes, different types, and the history of concepcion. To my surprise, Concepcion IS in fact "that kind" of volcano. According to wikipedia it is a "stratovolcano", some famous stratovolcanoes are Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Vesuvius... And Concepcion's last major lava spewing eruption was in 2015...

Anyways... Ometepe is pretty. We stayed at a hotel on the eastern coast of the Island, between the two volcanoes. On one of the days of our trip we went to visit a really amazing place called "Ojo de Agua" which means "Eye of water". It is a naturally occurring spring reinforced into a swimming area in the middle of the jungle. Despite being a popular tourist destination it was very quite and peaceful. There is a well equipped restaurant up the hill and vendors by the water serving rum inside coconuts.



Another highlight of the trip was when we went horseback riding up to a waterfall on Volcan Maderas, which is definitely not "that kind" of volcano. It is in fact, extinct and has a lake in the crater. For our horseback tour we went down the town of Merida on the south west side of the Island. Along the way we met some of the witnesses who were out in the ministry, completely at random as they were walking along the dirt road in the forest, Coincidentally we knew one of the couples as they were old friends of Jean's from Bluefields. There are 6 congregations on the Island of Ometepe despite its relatively low population.

We understood that it would be a 2 hour ride on horseback to a waterfall. We weren't sure if we were going up the volcano very far, we imagined not because it would be a really long distance. As it turned out we were confused, the ride was 5 hours and we were climbing the volcano on horseback. The waterfall was right at the point where the volcano pokes into the clouds. 1 hour in we were already feeling sore, none of us having any experience with horses. Once we started to climb the views were spectacular. The road narrowed into a rocky path through the rainforests which blanket the bottom of the Maderas Volcano. As we got higher the bush became more and more dense, we heard and saw howler monkeys and many other exotic animals and birds. According to the information we had, at certain altitudes Maderas changes from rainforest to cloud forest. What this means is that because of the extreme humidity and cooler temperatures brought by the clouds the plant species in the area are completely different. By the time we reached this point we were a little light headed, and it was time to get off the horses and climb the rest of the way. The plants were absolutely enormous. There were ferns with branches the size of a house hanging from cliff sides overhead. the white haze of the lower fringes of the clouds drifted across the pathway. despite exhaustion and some dizzyness we made it to the waterfall. Words really can't describe the place, but the cool mist spraying off the fall was very refreshing.






The way back was less exhausting as the horses were a bit tired and didn't feel like going so fast. Except for the part when they realized they were going home and decided to gallop at full speed. Its been about a week now and my blisters from the saddle are just starting to heal. For a couple of days all of us had problems walking, but it was worth it.

I really liked Ometepe. Too much in fact. It has made me realize that I have a problematic addiction to exploring new places. When I go to a new place, I tend to like it so much and be so excited about it that I have a burning desire to go and live there. We JUST moved to Tola and that is just not an option, and theres no really good reason to do it either. The congregation needs us here, plus it was a lot of work to move all our crap. So, definitely not moving to Ometepe. Even though part of me wants to. Being on an Island again brought back a lot of nice memories from our year on Corn Island. We're looking forward to the next time we can go back there, maybe this time I'll actually have the money to get a diving licence.

Comments

  1. Makes me want to go there...except for the horseback ride.

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  2. Hey do u happen to have the number of the ferry to reserve? Someone was just asking me!

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    Replies
    1. We made our reservations in person, They do have a phone number though! I don't have it on hand though.

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