Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Island Way of Life

Ferry ride from Rivas to Moyogalpa

If you are a faithful reader of our blog you will notice that volcanoes are a recurring theme here in Nicaragua. This weekend we were surrounded by them. Ometepe is a small island in Lake Nicaragua made by two volcanoes. One is active (Concepcion) and one is inactive (Maderas).
Maderas as seen from Hotel El Encanto.
After our last language class in Granada we boarded the yellow bus again and headed south. After five hours of travel (one bus, one ferry, and two taxis) we made it to our hotel (El Encanto). This place was recommended by a friend of Pam’s and is run by a couple who are from Australia and El Salvador. They met in Vancouver and built the small hotel three years ago.

Clouds wrapped around the top of Volcan Concepcion.

Ometepe means “two hills” but has become known as an “oasis of peace”. We certainly had a relaxing time but not without adventure of course. We were the only people at the hotel and there was only one other hotel within walking distance. The hotel is an hour’s drive from the main port. So it was quiet , and we had the whole restaurant to ourselves and felt spoiled. We feasted on curry chicken, bbq fish and chicken, French toast, and spaghetti and pesto for the kids. The view over the water and of the volcanoes was wonderful and the property was landscaped with wild flowers that attracted many butterflies. The owners had also discovered about 7 petroglyphs on the property and we spent some time findings these stones that are over 2,000 years old.

We saw many different species of butterflies in the garden at El Encanto.

When we discussed what to do on Saturday Simon said “I think we should just have a day to relax”. Pam embraced the thought and we had a lazy day in our hammocks, reading and playing games. We did go for a swim at the beach and go for a bike ride too. On Sunday we took a kayak tour of the isthmus that separates the two volcanoes. The highlight for the kids had to be standing up in the back of the truck driving over a very bumpy road. It had rained on and off most of the morning and we started the kayak trip in the pouring rain. The rain stopped after half an hour and we have a peaceful time in the isthmus. We saw many different kinds of birds and saw howler monkeys but did not see any of the 3m crocodiles that are in the water (it was “too cold”).
We also watched people working at many of the rural farms along the shore and watched two guys struggling to get their horse across the isthmus.

A "washing machine" where clothes are washed by hand in the lake.

We celebrated 100th day on Ometepe. It's been 100 days since we left home!

The theme of the weekend however was RAIN. Friday and Saturday nights there were down pours. These sounded absolutely torrential in our steel-roofed rooms and the thunder seemed to roll from volcano to volcano. The kids slept great but Pam and I did not. The rain caused several landslides on the only road through the island. The story made the front page of the national newspaper – not about this crazy Canadian family having a holiday on Ometepe in the rainy season – but about the landslide. To get out we had to take a taxi to the landslide and another past the landslide. We were fortunate to get this worked out as there was only one taxi on the side where our hotel was. It would have been a very long walk.

After 8 hours of travelling (4 taxis, 1 ferry and 2 buses), we made it to our new home in Managua. Language school was a great experience and although we can get around now we have so much still to learn. My goal for the kids was that they would gain an appreciation of language and they are enjoying playing with it and know more than they let on. Our new home has been great so far – welcoming people, wireless internet, hot showers, no bats, and excellent food. Home sweet home.

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