First off, I am pretty happy with how many blogs and pictures we put up for a few days there and I hope people enjoy when I put up pictures, because it is honestly a MAJOR pain in the you know what. But I personally love looking at other people’s pictures, so I hope others are enjoying it. We are hoping to be all caught up on blogging for when my best friend Chelsea gets here, which is tomorrow afternoon. However, we are currently in paradise in Costa Rica, and the beach calls to us, so we will see if that happens.
We left Laguna Apoyo mid-morning and spent the better part of the day taking a shuttle to a bus to a taxi to a ferry to get to Isla Ometepe. This island is easily the largest we have visited and the lake it is located on, Lake Nicaragua, is the largest lake in Central America. We missed the 2:30 ferry to the main town on the island, Moyogulpa, by minutes and waited an hour to take a lancha, which are smaller boats that are half as much (of course the difference is $1 or $2). The ride was extremely choppy, but I decided early on in this trip that I was no longer going to get boat sick, and with a few exceptions, mind over matter has seemed to work. We arrived on the island and found a hostel (Yogi’s), grabbed some dinner (delicious grilled chicken that a family cooked and sold right in front of their house), grabbed a margarita, and went to bed.
The next morning was when our “real” experience of the island began. Yogi’s was a good hostel and the owner, Robinson, was very helpful and even arranged transport to the other side of the island for us. However, the town of Moyoglpa is just a town, like so many we have seen, and is really just a launching point from which to enjoy the nature on the island. We decided that to get the full experience of the island we wanted to stay in one of the many eco-lodges. I had looked on TripAdvisor and found Finca Mystica. It had wonderful reviews, and even had a dorm room with reasonable prices, so we decided to splurge a little and enjoy time in the jungle. I say splurge because it was a little more than we have been spending on a room, you couldn’t cook (meaning we had to buy every meal), and you had to take a 1.5 hour taxi ride to get there. In the end, it ended up being totally worth it and we were able to really relax and soak in the island.
Finca Mystica is owned (and was built) by Angela and Ryan, a couple originally from New Jersey, who moved to Steamboat (representing Colorado!), and now live in Nicaragua 10 months of the year. They just had a baby and they have really made their hotel feel almost like a little community. They constantly asked us how we were and cooked the best meals. Logan had delicious coconut soup one night, we had fresh fruit smoothies everyday, we ate yummy steak kabob, AND (most importantly) we feasted daily on a large bucket of curry topped POPCORN!! We also read in hammocks, watched howler monkeys jump from tree to tree, swam in the lake and played Cards Against Humanity with some other people staying at the hotel. I also gave myself a much needed “pedicure” (meaning I cleaned, scrubbed, and repainted), as my feet were literally falling apart (I have only worn sandals this whole time). In short, we did very little, and were soooo happy doing just that. The property has four guest cabins for 1-2 people as well as one dorm, with 5 double beds. All the buildings were made with wine bottles as part of their structure and it was one of the most beautiful and unique places I have ever seen.
Many people go to Ometepe to climb one of the two volcanoes located on the island. For the truly bad-ass there is Concepcion. To climb the mammoth volcano take 10-12 hours, and guides are required as tourists have fallen to their deaths while making their ascent. The other volcano, Maderas, only takes 6-8 hours to climb. We did neither. Instead, we hiked to San Ramon waterfall, only a 4-5 hour hike. The hike itself was not too bad, but it was so HOT! Locals kept telling us how strange it was to be that hot during the dry season, and the hike was pretty miserable when we were not in the shade. We did have the best tour guides however. We didn’t pay them and they pretty much just followed us around. Even when other hikers tried to draw them away from us, they always came back to lead us up the trail. The waterfall was beautiful and the hike was worth it in the end, but I was very happy to get back to the hotel to take a cold shower (the first cold shower I have EVER enjoyed and taken willingly).
We really enjoyed our time on Ometepe, largely due to where we stayed. The island is beautiful, there is wildlife everywhere, and the water in the lake feels wonderful after a few hours in the sun (although, there are crocodiles in the lake and I was strangely paranoid about one eating me…). It was a wonderful way to end our time in Nicaragua, and was our favorite place we went in Nicaragua.
Next up, BEACH!!