Monday, January 2, 2012

Ometepe New Year

I could hardly put down my travel guide for the entire time we were on the ferry moving about six knots towards San Jorge.  La Concepcion loomed overhead with her summit enveloped in clouds.  Ometepe Island, our destination, was about to fulfill everything that I had been reading about and much much more.  

            Once again with my beautiful girlfriend and more than generous “suegros” (her parents), we were off again on another adventure.  We had gotten up extra early that morning, woofed down some quick breakfasts and started driving down to Rivas, Rivas to catch the first ferry we could.

            The ferry, La Reina del Lago, came into port, dropped her large back doors like a draw bridge over a mote, and we all poured inside.  La Reina wasn’t a particularly big ship, and the crowd of Nicas and Gringos had me wondering if we’d all fit.  But fit we did and for the next two hours or so were spent elbow to elbow with the other passengers as we watch the twin volcanoes getting closer and closer.

            Oscar, Kathya’s dad, was smart enough to bring the family truck along.  It cost quite a bit more but it was a saving compared to the prices of public transport on the island, plus we’d be in much better control of when and where we went.  Since we were only going to stay one night that mad things much easier to maximize our time.

            Here’s a little info about Ometepe.  The island sits in the western half of Lake Nicaragua.  It gets its Nawatl name, Ometepe, from its twin volcanoes that make up the island; the name means Twin Mountain.  Its beautiful forests and jungles and amazing wildlife have earned the island a place in the top ten natural wonders of the world.

            After checking into our hotel, we immediately set out to explore.  The first place we went to was a swimming hole called Ojo de Agua.  The Nicas on the island only swim in the swimming holes such as this one.  The lake is the domain of bull sharks.  But one look at the crystalline waters of Ojo de Agua and I was quite content to swim the day away right there.  There was even a rope swing, but unfortunately as with any attraction there were lines waiting for it.  

            The next day began with a breakfast of packed fruit and coffee.  The hotel staff were also carrying out uneaten food out behind where we were sleeping and I heard Kathya’s parents say that they we feeding the monkeys.  I wasted no time grabbing my camera and  rushing to the scene, and sure enough, there were about eight or so spider monkies coming down from the trees taking the leftovers and gorging on the fruit.  I even made a major naturalist “no no” and fed one of the braver monkies by hand.  It was totally worth it.

We eventually left our furry friends to eat and headed out to the swampy nature preserve of Charco Verde.  On the beaches of the island facing east, the waters hardly move and nothing could be heard but the forests around.  We trekked back into the preserve until we could go no further due to the thickening of the brush in our path and the mud on our shoes.  There supposedly is a witch doctor that lives in the area but we weren’t lucky enough to spot him.

            Finally it was my turn to pick the next destination.  With my obsession for history and antiquities, I made Kathya and the others go to an archaeology museum that was devoted completely to Ometepe finds.  At first, the more than doubled price for me as a gringo had me a bit put off but as soon as I started seeing art and artifacts, I was immediately placated.  Among the many pots, tools and other things typical of a museum, I saw an object that was about as long as my forearm and had some sort of joystick like grip on one end.  I asked the one of the guides what it was, and she seemed a bit embarrassed.  “It was a tool for the women, for when their husbands leave to go to work or war for a long time…”  That’s right, it was pre-Colombian dildo!  The other guide was much more enthusiastic.  I asked her what some of the little holes on shaft were for.  She plainly answered, “they’re for putting toys on it.  No pain means no pleasure.”  I won’t lie.  When she said that, my first thoughts were, “I can see what you’re into.”

            Finally the time had come for us to retreat from this amazing island escape.  Whether it be for the beautiful crystal waters of Ojo de Agua or the ancient ceramic lady toy, I know I’ll be remembering this little island adventure for a long time and hopefully return to.

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