Ometepe – two volcanoes, one island, surrounded by sweet water. What more could we ask for?

 We returned from Apoyo back to Avi’s in Granada for another night, so that we could catch the earliest morning ferry from San Jorge to Ometepe, the volcano island in Lago Nicaragua.
Ometepe, despite welcoming us with some of the rainiest weather we’d seen, is amazingly beautiful, and we enjoyed spending our last days in Nicaragua there.

We stayed another night at Avi’s, and had a nice big CS dinner with a guy from Scotland and a girl from Finland. We made a big vegetable stir-fry and some rice, and it was delicious, as usual (Itai says cooking for four is much simpler than cooking for eight, although he managed the eight as well, of course..).
Hanna, the Finnish girl, came with us to Ometepe the next morning. We left Granada very early, and got to San Jorge just in time for the car ferry to Ometepe. It was surprisingly cheap to take the truck with us on the island, and since it’s quite a large island, it is necessary, and we don’t like leaving it, anyways.
The ferry was an hour and a half ride to San Juan del Sur on the island. Lago Nicaragua is huge; it is called ‘Gran Lago de Nicaragua’, although its original name is Lago Cocibolca. The Spaniards called it Mar Dulce, the sweet sea, because it seemed so big. There are a few other surprising things about the lake – it is a sweet water lake, but the fish in it are originally salt water fish – they swam to the lake from the pcean and adjusted to the sweet water.

Ometepe, the island in the lake, is the largest lake-island, or freshwater island, in the world. The island is actually two islands coneccted by a small isthmus – the larger of these is Volcan Concepcion, 1610 meters, and the smaller is Volcan Maderas, 1394 meters. The volcanos are beautiful and the setting is unbelievable.

Ometepe island map

After a first night at Charco Verde on the larger of the islands that make up Ometepe, we moved to Hacienda Merida on the smaller island, near the slopes of Maderas.
Roads on the island aren’t too kept. On the bigger island there’s an ok paved road that connects the main villages, but besides that road and heading to the smaller island, the roads are unpaved and not so comfortable. The rainy season isn’t helping, either. Just as we were crossing over to the smaller island on the narrowest point of the isthmus, we saw a truck stuck on the side of the road with a flat. Itai, bless his good heart, immediately offered help, and our jack was utilized (for the first time!) to replacing the tire.

Our time at Ometepe was shadowed, litterally; it was cloudy most of the time and it rained a few times each day. This kinda made it problematic to do anything, although we enjoyed just hanging out at the Hacienda, catching up on some reading and enjoying the wireless connection, which we were surprised to discover. Actually, what’s strange here is that we have constant internet but electrecity is not so continous.. We have powerouts almost on an hourly basis, but since the main building has, apperantly, a generator, the internet is always connected. Usually it’s the other way around – we have electricity but no internet.. Either way, the Hacienda is nice and has a nice long dock from which we can swim at the lake. We are cooking gormet meals since it’s not too hot – warm oatmeal cereal breakfast, steaming pea and lantins soup dinners…
One afternoon, when it seemed to have cleared out a bit, we decided to venture out to Merida, the small village not far from the Hacienda. We started walking the dirt road and it was raining a little and we thought we were fools not to have taken the umbrella… Soon enough we realized the umbrella wouldn’t have helped us. At first, we took cover under trees when the drizzle bacame stronger. After a while we decided to head back, as the rain didn’t seem it would stop anytime soon and the chances of finding diet coke in Merida seemed slim. While we were walking back, the rain suddenly turned into a strom. We stayed under a tree as the storm became something like those tropical storms we see on TV – lots of hard rain, that comes in waves and changes according to the strong wind. We were getting soaked wet under the tree, that no longer offered us any protection, when a family in the house across the street, that was already sheltering a few bicycle riders, signaled us to join them on the protected portch. Just crossing the road to their house was hard!
We were as wet as we would have been had we jumped into the lake with our clothes on..
We waited for more than half an hour until we decided it was calm enough to try and reach the Hacienda. We were so soaking wet, that it didn’t make any sense to even use a rain-cape, although we had one.. We were lucky and the rain wasn’t too hard and we made it back to the Hacienda all muddy since the roads had turned into little brown rivers.

Soon we will head for Costa Rica, from where I’ll catch a flight back to Israel, and from there to Vienna and then Washington DC. I’m leaving Itai here, to travel some more, and we will meet up in DC at the beginning of September.
Still a little more ahead of us while we’re together; Costa Rica – here we come!


  1. Horst Kapfenberger

    Itai, Aviv – very nice trip! have a good time!
    Greetings from Vienna,

  2. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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