Where’s Wallis? Isle De Ometepe, Nicaragua

Ometepe was wonderful. By far the most peaceful place I’ve been so far.

Whilst surfing in San Juan Del Sur we met another recently engaged NYC couple, Lauren and John. They’d just come from Ometepe and couldn’t speak highly enough of a remote horse-ranch they’d stayed at: Finca Montania Sagrada

Everything about it was fantastic. It was set about 1km back from the ‘main’ road which weaves a figure-of-eight around the two huge volcanos which make up the island. It is right at the foot of the smaller of the volcanos, and had stunning views of both, and of the lake.

The Italian owners made delicious pasta suppers and had a hilarious menagerie of pets: a couple of cats, two creepy parrots, six chiuwawas, 12 horses, and best of all a Peruvian hairless dog. He was brilliant, it felt like you were stroking a tyre 😂 but he was so friendly! Also one of the chiuwawas had been stung by a wasp just before we arrived, which cruelly was quite amusing as it looked like he had two heads the size of the lump compared to him!

The finca only had three rooms for guests, so unfortunately it was fully booked the first night we were on Ometepe. Instead we stayed in Santa Cruz (halfway down the island) in the Santa Cruz hostel, which was fine but nothing compared to the Finca.

On the ferry over from San Jorge to Ometepe we bumped into Christoph, a German who’d been on our bus from Monteverde to San Juan Del Sur, and Annalie & Kalle, a German couple who’d been staying at the same place as us in San Juan. We all decided to stay at Santa Cruz Hostel and had some lunch and then hired bikes for the afternoon to head to the Ojo De Agua (water hole!)

The cycle was challenging as we were practically blinded by clouds of flies (they looked like midges) the whole way to the water hole. When we arrived, we were all sweaty and covered in flies, they’d made their way under seemingly tight t-shirts and in other undesirable places. The water hole exceeded expectations, after the fly onslaught I’d sort of expected a stagnant pond, but it had been sculpted to have concrete steps all around, a rope swing into the pool, and wonderfully refreshing clear freshwater! It was about $3 entry each which was well worth it for the couple of hours we spent there.

We had delicious ‘coco locos’ (coconuts with rum) usually they just slug some cheap white rum in with the coconut water, but here they emptied it out into a shaker, added light and dark rum and a creamy coconut milk and mixed it all up! There was also a woman selling handmade little chocolates made without sugar and with coconut or rum.

When we got back from the cycle, sweaty and fly ridden again, we had a drink out on the lawn of the Santa Cruz hostel and watched the sun setting over conception volcano. It was rather magical!!

That night we all went for dinner at the nearby ‘Little Morgan’s’ hostel. It was down a dark track about 1km off the road, and to be honest I wouldn’t recommend it. It was full of ‘proper beach bums’, the sort who go travelling and 1 year later are still in the same tiny hostel, just chilling and drinking and talking to other travellers all day. Not for me.

The next morning the owner of the Finca came to pick us up and delivered us to paradise. We were so sad to only have one night there, but a great place for our last night together before Dermot began the long journey home.

The Finca could organise volcano hikes, riding trips, kayaking, massages!
However, even the smaller of the volcanos takes 8-10 hours to climb, and given our limited time on the island we thought we’d have more of a relaxing stay. Back when I was 14 I climbed Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano (3,188m!!) in Tanzania with my sister and Dad, and that was one of the hardest physical things I’ve ever done, so I didn’t feel too bad at just being a volcano spectator on Ometepe.

We opted for kayaking, thinking that it was relatively chilled and easy…that it is not!!

I would say that Dermot and I are both relatively fit, but you should have seen us trying to navigate our dual kayak across the lake! It was a challenge to say the least. It took about 1 hour in the midday sun (luckily they lent me a sexy ‘Nicaragua’ hat) 😉 for us to reach the river that wound inland into the island and get a bit of respite from the wind and sun.

We had a very enjoyable hour floating leisurely through the river, we saw Caymen (little crocodiles!), turtles, herons, pelicans, it was fantastic. There was only one small incident where we crashed into an incredibly thorny tree but other than that it was dreamy.

Then we emerged back onto the lake, and our guide said with a grin “just one hour back now!”….god. We will not be making the boat race team next year that’s for sure, we were constantly battling against the wind to straighten up, all the while our guide was gliding through the water with ease next to us.

It made me think of Elina and Mark, the couple we’d met in Panama who’d got engaged on their kayak trip in Bocas. Either they are far fitter than us, or they had far nicer conditions, because my mindset at the end of it I would not have been receptive to a proposal! (luckily Dermot didn’t try)

Once we got back to the kayak hire shop we tried the freshly caught grilled lake-fish. I’m usually dreadful at eating fish that still looks like a fish due to the quantity of skin and bones, but this was melt in the mouth delicious, a really crispy charcoal skin and stuffed with tomatoes and onions.

We then rewarded ourselves with a massage once we got back to the Finca. At only $20 for an hour who wouldn’t. It was one of the best, if not the best, massage I’ve ever had. The masseuse, Patricia was brilliant at finding the problems and working them out, rather than just doing a ‘routine’.

This was followed by a huge pasta dinner, the pesto made with basil grown at the farm and a very sound night’s sleep.

We were up early the next day to get the 9am ferry back to the mainland. We wanted to make sure we got a ferry rather than the ‘lancha’ boat which was apparently incredibly choppy. It was only once we’d taken the hour taxi from the Finca to the port, and bought our tickets, that Dermot realised that he was phoneless!!

Panic ensued, we tried calling the Finca on my phone (didn’t connect), we didn’t know the name or number of the taxi we came with, we didn’t try calling Dermot’s phone (no idea why I didn’t think of this!!) but, luck was on his side as after 10 minutes of running around like headless chicken, trying to persuade locals to let him call the Finca, he spotted that the taxi driver had parked in a far corner of the boat yard and just as he ran over the guy emerged and handed him his phone.

If only a stingray had done the same with me and the go-pro!

So we managed to make the 9am boat from Moyagalpa back to St. Jorge and grabbed a collectivo taxi with Annalie and Kalle (the Germans) to Rivas where Dermot and I would part. I was lucky my bag actually made it to Rivas the way it was balanced in/on the boot!

We dropped Dermot at the bus office to find his bus down to San Jose, Costa Rica for his flight home the next day, and Kalle and Annalie and I continued on in the taxi up to the colonial city of Granada….

Xx

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