Isla de Ometepe, visit to a place without paradigm

Sometimes traveling brings up alternatives you have not forseen. Accept them, follow the path of the unknown like I did in Nicaragua, exploring Isla de Ometepe with two adventurers from NZ and UK. It was one of the most exciting parts of my travels in Latin America and I learned to accept, that you have to adjust to what is possible and make the best out of it. Sometimes leaving the path, refusing your plan brings up new opportunities which are more valuable than what you planned primarily.

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It is May 1st at 6:00 am. Conrad, Sam and me sit at the center of Playa Gigante, waiting for the daily bus back to Rivas. Normally it should leave at this time… Seems like the 1st of May is a holiday in Nicaragua as well. There is a bus which is not locked and two hammocks hang around inside, and the guys decide to claim them and make themselves comfortable. Not even two minutes later another guy steps into the bus and tells us to get the fuck outta there. He is angry and tells us, the bus is private and there will be no service to Rivas today. Fuck it, we could have spent the morning surfing and have left later…!

Some nice people of the village help us out, they call Omar, the local taxi driver, who works all the time, if you demand him to. 30 minutes later he is there, tells us immediately he has to pick up another girl, “una chica muy hermosa”. It is common in Nicaragua that the left over spots in a taxi are filled with people. She is a nice girl and Sam, me in the middle and her have to share the back of the car. Conrad is the only one of us speaking proper Spanish so he gets the front seat. He is the tallest of us anyways. Omar is communicative, tells us lots of stories and when he drops the girl in Rivas, he continues talking to the family where he drops her off. You should always plan ahead when you travel, since that happens a lot over here – it is quite comparable to my experience with our driver back to Panamá City from San Blas. Plan enough time to get from one place to another, not that you miss your plane or ferry!

There we are, in San Jorge where all the ferries to Isla de Ometepe leave. An hour later we have boarded and are on our way. A fresh breeze goes over Lake Nicaragua, which is actually impressively big for a fresh water lake, looks a bit like the sea! The island will be our destination for this day, and it’s still quite early. The boys want to catch another ferry in the evening, making their way into the backcountry of Nicaragua. I want to continue to Granada the next day. So far the plans…

When we are in San José del Sur a lady starts to bend our ears, wants to lure us into her hostel. She tells the guys there won’t be a ferry for the next days to the backcountry and there won’t be the direct ferry to Granada, because of the holidays. Of course we don’t believe her, we assume it is just a trick to lure us into a three day hostel stay. But we negotiate with her that she takes us to Altagracia on the back of her pickup truck. It is just $10, or 250 Córdoba for quite a long ride. The boys learn from some other locals that the lady was right and there won’t be any service this day. So we continue to Santa Cruz by bus, where we stay at a small, family run hostel, close to Playa Santo Domingo which looks like a carribean beach.

We rent some bikes and start to cycle around. It is very hot, the sweat rinses, the landscape is impressive and our destination is the Ojo de Agua – the eye of water. On our way we see some monkeys and several beautiful birds. The landscape is dry, the vulcanos Conceptión and Maderas arise masterful over the island. After half of an hour we are there and this place has some mysterious charme. A statue reminds of the days long time passed, when the land was still populated by Nahuatl indians. Lots of paradise birds fly around, vulcano Conceptión seems to be close and the water of the natural pool is turquoise and very refreshing. The whole place has a peaceful atmosphere. There are many local families enjoying the dip in the pool, which is replenished by an underwater fountain. The day flies by in a snap and the guys meet a girl, they already met somewhere else on their trip. It’s a great experience to travel with those laid back dudes.

At night Conrad and me attend a party in another hostel around. He met another guy in the afternoon, who he knows from back in the day and we are having a good time at this party. The plan is that the boys continue their trip to Costa Rica the next day. The party is crazy and fun, all the guys are dressed up like ladies albeit from Conrad and me. I meet an interesting guy from former West-Berlin, who travels since 16 years without a break and who lives on Ometepe since over one year. I find myself totally destroyed in a hammock and when someone jumps on me, I have the feeling I should go home… I decide to follow the guys back to Costa Rica, I want to give it a try to meet up with Dani, before I have to leave Latin America, there is not much time left anymore…

The next morning I contact her. She is really curious, as I am, to meet up in Costa Rica. We don’t know where yet, we just know we will meet this evening. I propose to meet up in Cañas, tell her I will be there around 3:00 pm, if everything will be going smooth at the border. She tells me that she leaves immediately to make it on time and that she is going to wait at a friends house until I arrive. This is the most adventurous part of my trip – I somehow wonder about myself since I have to catch my flight from Managua in four days – I am exited, let my plans go, enjoy doing it. I just follow my instinct and the will to devote the next days to adventure. Before our ferry leaves back to Rivas, we enjoy breakfast together.

Guys, without your adventurous and laid back spirit influencing me, I might never have deviated my path of travel, you taught me a valuable lesson just by letting me come with you, thank you. It was great traveling with you and I hope we meet again some day in the future!

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