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Monday, 16 April 2012

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

The image of a wild white horse, washing itself in the magical lake isn't so romantic when you get close up and see its just an old nag

I was walking down the hill this afternoon and a white horse who seems to live on the beach was rolling around in the water washing itself. Then i walked along a little more and, lo and behold, a bike was coming towards me, making the noise of a pig. Then i looked closer, the driver had a squealing pig strapped to the back. He was taking to butcher it. What a surreal day, but a typical one here in Ometepe Island.
You should have heard this guy's squeals.

The island is quite beautiful, with i'd say the loveliest sunset i've ever seen. It's made up of two volcanoes (the island not the sunset) one dormant and the other not. Today i saw a little farm on the dormant side. What a view! The soil is uber-fertile and there's no need for pesticides and other poison because the soils so rich already, and so the food is delicious (and i suppose 'organic', although the locals probably don't give that much thought.)
This is how they roll here. (this is the main road to Merida by the way)

I really like the tree on the left in the back.

Awww...future rashers of bacon consider if my shoe is one of them.

Anyway. Here's some info on some places to stay, etc. etc.

The Beach at Santa Cruz. There are a few little hotel/hostels along here too that look quite ok.

Moyogalpa - This is the main city and where one of the ferries from San Jorge gets in. I stayed at El Indio Vejo which is just up the hill from the boat 3 blocks and one block right. It's easy to find, freindly, free wifi and the room was quite fine for $10 a night. The highlight is the cooking of the little old french woman who makes the food there. I don't think i've ever had such a nice pizza as the pizza she made me. Magical.
Finca Magdalena

You want to get out of Moyogalpa (or the other main town) as soon as possible if you're going to spend any time here though. I went first to the north, past the beach at Santa Cruz to Finca Magdalena which is up the hill from Balgue. The sign says 1km but actually its a 1.5km hike up the dirt track, so if you have suitcases etc. you're really better just staying in one of the little places on the main road of Balgue - one GREAT place is Cafe Campestre - well they made an amazing curry (its owned by a Gringo, with a northern english accent) and the food includes lots of western favourites that you will likely miss if you've been away a while. The rooms, i couldn't tell you but it's worth staying for the food i'm sure.
Sunset at the Finca Magdalena

I made the mistake of staying in Finca Magdalena. Ok its $5 a room, very cheap, but the rooms are grotty. There is no wifi and the menu is limited and its totally isolated - i did end up walking the 5km roundtrip nightly in the pitch black to Cafe Campestre, (a taxi's about $5 each way) but its not for everyone.

Coffee is good here (it should be, they grow it!) and the sunsets beautiful but just don't go expecting to get online or looking for lots of stimulating things to do. there are some weird and interesting petroglyphs nearby though and you can of course climb up the volcano which takes about 1.5 hours each way (2.5 for fat people)
Pigs eating Mangoes in Merida

On the other side, on the South of that island is Merida, nice little dirt track village with a lot of pigs and chickens, a little pebble beach of sorts, a waterfall nearby and Hacienda Merida , a pretty nice place to base yourself on the lakeside. You can rent bikes ($15 for your whole stay) kayaks (same), horses, and get guides for all the various adventures you can get up to. Rooms at $20 are pretty nice, but so are the dorms at $7 and hammocks even cheaper. Again the food is a bit limited but there are nice little restaurants outside. Along the lake about 50m is an old lady in a shack on the lakeside who sells fruit and water and so on, and she will cook you up a lovely steak for $2-3

Sunset from Hacienda Merida

Kayaking was great, although these so called 'monkey islands' have no more monkeys than the rest of the island...tomorrow ill seek out the crocodiles in the river.

Anyway, all in all, if its peace and quiet and good natural food your looking for, this is the place to be. The place isn't so developed (especially the roads, sadly) but look around you and everyones happy. Which more than can be said if i'm sitting on the London Underground at any given time on any given date.

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