Nicaragua 2004

The Island of Ometepe

March 2 - 8


Here is a summary of what I wrote on March 8 about this island :

Today I returned from the island of Ometepe. I traveled there because, as one prominent guide book says, "it is the hghlight of any trip to Nicaragua" with "the friendliest people in the country." Well, OK, though I found it somewhat different from that breezy description  Look, I am not traveling to visit chic or trendy areas of any country or to have a 'cultural experience.'  I am traveling to backpack. Period. I have traveled many times all through every Central American nation beginning in 1983. What I want now is to push my physical and spiritual limits while traversing God's acres. To put it briefly, Nicaragua offers very little backpacking and very little solitude. (Of course it offers many other attractions---Nicaragua is beautiful, and I have only seen a small part of it in my three visits---but I am not buying right now. Maybe later.)

Ometepe is a case in point. From a map it apears that one could simply walk around the entire island, taking around 7 days. And technically, one could do this. But---and there is always a 'but'---there is absolutely no shade to be had (and the sun is serious business here). All is dry and dusty to boot. And once you leave Bagues, the last real village on the north-east part of Ometepe, there are no villages. If you have no tent and are relying on places to stay---I left all my camping gear in Granada---you would be out of luck. And there is more: Water is very scarce everywhere on the island, in all hotels and restaurants and homes. It simply quits, sometimes for the entire day. And the island sits in a huge freshwater lake! Granada, the third city of the republic, also suffers from water problems, and it is on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.

While the Americans look for water on Mars, the Nicaraguans cannot seem to find it in their own backyard. It baffles.

There are other reasons why the island did not appeal to me. It is chock-full of child beggars, for one thing. Also, Ometepe has become a haven for the North American and European New Age tribes that wander around certain parts of Central America. They are the same sort that infest Panajachel: the entire hippy touchy-feely types who dribble down from Mexico and Guatemala---stopping at every tatoo and piercing parlor along the way---and congregate in places such as Ometepe. There they disrobe, imbibe, inhale, and idle away their time. It pleases indeed to know that I never see these types in the forests and jungles that I love.

Not much to add except some photos--and they do indeed show the beauty of the place.

The boat from San Jorge to Moyogalpa

Volcan Maderas

Girls of Ometepe

Volcan Concepcion

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