10.05.2015 - 13.05.2015
From wonderful Granada to a place far out of our comfort zone…
We caught a taxi to San Jorge, where we took a ferry over to Isla de Ometepe, in the middle of Lago Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Central America. As we approached, we saw the sun setting back on the mainland, and as we got closer and closer Volcan Concepcion rose above the clouds. Once the sun had set, a string of coloured bulbs lit up around the edge of the boat, and music played from a loudspeaker on the deck. It was a magical entrance to our island adventure.
The drive from the port was terrifying, and I wished I’d had some spare valium. Stupid planes. Visibility was really poor – there seemed to be a mist over the whole island – so there was a lot of swerving around bikes and people walking in the road, who didn’t seem very bothered about the approaching traffic. Further on, we drove up a long, steep and very bumpy hill, our heads hitting the roof of the car due to an unsurprising lack of seat belts.
At the ecolodge, we were shown to our cabin, which had a composting toilet and a thatched roof, and there was no boundary between us and the wildlife whose environment we had the privilege of sharing. There were geckos and all sorts of beasts crawling around the room, and we shared our shower with four little frogs and a cricket.
After dinner, a delicious plate of samosas, corn fritters, pineapple salsa and salad, and a divine chocolate brownie, and after propping up the bar until it closed (early, at 9.30 p.m.), we found our way back to our cabin with our insufficient torch, and we clung to each other in the dark room, surrounded by unknown cries and squawks, which seemed to be closing in on us by the second. Having dashed around getting ready, we climbed inside the mosquito net around the bed and lay down, tensely, torch in hand, still clinging to each other, sleep seeming very far away.
Eventually, amid half-waking dreams of being attacked by mosquitoes, jumping frogs, monkeys or worse (Erik, who worked behind the bar, told us that there are boa constrictors in the trees, which did not make Matt feel better), we did fall asleep.
The next morning, our fear was forgotten immediately, as the views from the ecolodge were incredible. Volcan Concepcion rises from the mist late-morning, and becomes bolder throughout the day, until the sun sets behind it in the evening. We spent a few days in rocking chairs on our porch, in the small infinity pool, and sitting at a definite contender for the title of bar with the best view in the world.
While on Ometepe we went kayaking between the two volcanoes, and hiked in the wetlands of the Rio Istian where we saw numerous exotic birds, and howler monkeys in the trees. The wetlands are currently dry (rainy season starts soon, but the wettest months are September to November). As we walked, our guide, Emerson, told us that during the rainy season there would be much more wildlife around, and you would usually see caimans and turtles. I then made the mistake of asking where the caimans went during the dry season, at which Emerson swept his arm around and said, 'Well, they just stay around here,' proceeding to tell us a delightful story about his cousin being attacked by a caiman in his garden. 'They're very dangerous on dry land,' he said. 'Fine in the water, but very dangerous on dry land.' Excellent.
After a few days we'd had enough 'rustic', and headed back to Granada for some relative luxury (i.e. patchy air-conditioning).
P.S. Some of the photos are a bit grainy, as they were taken on our camera, and we don't have a cable, so I've used my iPad to take photos of the camera screen. I'll start using my iPad to take photos now. Yes, I'll be *that* wanker.