Away from it all

Trip Start Jan 18, 2010
Trip End Apr 11, 2010

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Where I stayed
El Zopilote
Little Morgan's Beach Resort

Flag of Nicaragua  , Rivas,
Sunday, April 4, 2010

A few weeks before our trip to La Isla de Ometepe, the papers had written about a possible evacuation of the island due to the volcanic activity. But by the time we went, things had calmed down and we took our chances. In order to get there, we had to take a new mode of transportation, the ferry. This lake of Nicaragua takes up a lot of the country, it's big and at times you don’t see any land at all. The crossing to the island which has 2 volcanoes, takes an hour. Once at the island, there are several buses mainly going to the two biggest towns on the island, only leaving a few times a day. We managed to get one to an intersection, where we were supposed to catch another bus to get to the smaller island. We waited for some time until a local guy joined us and told us that the bus was just about to arrive. We waited for about 2 hours and thought maybe there were no buses anymore due to Easter, but later we figured out that the bus had taken a deviation and we could have waited all day without it showing up. We had the longest talk with the local which was really interesting and he was all about learning things about us. He was so nice to invite us over to the village where he lives, but we kindly declined. Nonetheless, he gave us two mangos that he had just bought in town. Super nice! We learned that there are tourist vans that cover high prices, so we thought there must be a better way. We finally where able to catch a ride with a truck. He took us close to our destination, but for the remaining 1,5 km we had to walk with our luggage and the heat. Our local friend was able to catch a ride with a motorcycle, we were happy for him, since his walk would still have been 2,5 hours. Our initial plan was to check out Finca Magdalena. We knew it would be too far to walk with our luggage and it just seemed that hardly any trucks were passing that were even willing to give us a ride. We walked over to the eco-farm El Zopilote that I had checked on the internet but Jason "reported" to me that it was hippieville and he preferred to look around more. We walked back half the way to look at Little Morgan’s beachside resort. Big name for something so lame. Jason had an ok impression when checking it out, so we decided to stay since it was turning late and there was still no chance to get a ride. Since it said resort, I was expecting something nice but when I entered the premises it looked like a palm-tree battlefield. It was a huge area, where everything was just dying, no plant was green or even alive and it just looked like nothing was being taken care of. We had to set up our tent next to the dorm, since that area had a little bit of dust-dirt. The remaining area was spiky ground with dry hard plants sticking from the floor. No chance for a tent anywhere else even though the sign at the entrance advertised camping. We went to the bar/restaurant area to have dinner. It was ok food and when we left to go back to the tent and relax it seemed totally dead. Nice we thought, we’ll be able to relax and have 100% tranquility. Then there was a local guy that showed up and started wondering around in the dorm area. On top he was drunk and started talking to some kids that were staying there as well. Since there were only little tiny lockers, most of everybody’s stuff was just laying around. We told the owner that there was a guy bothering the guests and he didn’t seem to pay too much attention, told us, that he must have entered the premises from the lakeside and he couldn’t do anything about it as the lakeside was public. I didn’t really like that thinking that anybody can just enter the area and not be kicked out and on top our stuff would not be locked over night. We did go to bed kind of early since we were so exhausted and unfortunately, just then the bar that was still a little walk away from the sleeping area, started to pick up and turned up the music. We were bumped out. Jason went over there and asked till when they are normally open since we were so exhausted and wanted to rest. We were told that they will have to turn the music down at 10 pm. We kind of dosed but weren’t able to sleep. We really thought that most of the island would be calm and tranquil and we surely didn’t want to be at a place that had party all night. The place didn’t even look like it would pick up at night, since it looked like another eco-place and those are normally for relaxation anyways. But we were wrong. Jason walked over to the bar at 10 pm to ask if they would turn down the music now and they were surprised that we were even hearing it. They would turn it down and once he’d come back they would turn it back up. It was a cat and mouse game but we felt they were really making fun of us. The thing was also that the guests that were at the bar were not staying at that “resort” so they didn’t care. The owner didn’t care about the people that were sleeping there since they only pay $4 a night and he can make more money with the people that stay at the bar and drink all night. It’s just that if you offer accommodation and a bar area, you still have to make sure that you have it arranged in a way, that your guests that stay overnight won’t be bothered with the noise of the bar. But that wasn’t the case there. The third or forth time I went over there as well, they said they had guests at the bar and needed to please them as well. As I said, he didn’t care about us as guests, he should really not be running something like that. We said we wouldn’t pay for the night and went back to the tent. We had a horrible night, when the music finally stopped I woke up with a horse coming up to our tent. We woke up early in the morning, ready just to pack up and leave, and that’s what we did. Horrible place to stay! Maybe if you don’t mind the music it’s ok, but the way we were treated as guests was just not nice.

Anyways, enough of that place. We still had in mind to go to an eco-farm and first choice was still Finca Magdalena. The way over there would still have been too far to walk. We waited at the side of the road for 1 hour, but during that time there were neither buses nor trucks for a ride. We knew that there was hardly gonna be public transportation over Easter and it seemed that nobody was going that way so we decided we should stick around and not wait all day for a ride. We went to El Zopilote. After all we had a good time there. The area is set up nicely, there are a few places for tents and you can set up your own little space. There are big lockers. We were close to the hammock area but people were very relaxed and quiet and respected that others might want to sleep early. The premises are wide-spread, it was hard to climb the hill with the luggage to even get there. There is a store with organic products that are home-made, a few times a week there is pizza night with home made brick-oven pizza, there is a community kitchen, a Japanese shower that Jason and I used once (nice experience), there are compost toilets, recycling, free bananas, drinkable water from the volcanoes and a nice look-out point at a tower, the Mirador. When setting up our tent we good involved in a conversation with Lena and Ross. Both very interesting and nice. We also met the Swiss guys there whom we had first met at a ride in Granada. So small the world. Ross and Lena invited us to go to the beach at the lake and we gladly accepted. The walk is kind of long but the beach is real nice. The water is not all that clear, don’t even think about the possibility that there might still be some bull sharks in the lake (there used to be thousands of them when migrating up the river from the ocean, but most were killed). The water is warm and you can walk and walk and it just won’t get deep. It’s funny. The whole area is really beautiful, wonderful countryside and everything is so tranquil. The night was real calm and warm, we didn’t put the rain fly on and slept under the stars. Unfortunately, I got sick again. I had a stomachache and the diarrhea started to pick up. This part is especially hard when you only have compost toilets and can’t flush with water. Thinking back, I think I managed like a champ. Now on our travels I had said: “When I get sick for the third time, the trip is over and we go home.” Now this was the third time and I was so sick of it. Jason and I started thinking about our trip. We loved it so far and couldn’t get enough of seeing new places. But we were tired of the buses, of always having to find a new place to stay, of organizing the next destination… We did some thinking, had heard so so stuff about Costa Rica and were only really interested in Panama. Then we figured, we were ready to go home. The moment we decided that Nicaragua would be the last country for us, we were so relieved and couldn’t wait to get home. But we still enjoyed our stay.

On one of the days a small group had planned to go hiking and climb one of the volcanoes. We had meant to go, food and drinks were organized but I had passed a horrible night with diarrhea and the morning was still pretty tricky. We decided to stay at the eco-farm and relax so I could feel better and have a bathroom close-by. Even if it was just a compost one. For the rest of the day I did some intense hammocking and reading. It was great! We enjoyed the sunset at the mirador and went for a tiny walk to the petroglyphs that had been found in the area. The owner is an elderly Italian guy who showed us his favorite personal one. When the group of three came back from the hike to the volcano, they were full of ticks and exhausted, they had gotten lost and then had to run down the volcano naked because their clothes were full of ticks. Boy were we happy we had stayed. The next morning I felt better so Jason and I went for a walk to the tree-line of the volcano. We walked through banana fields, were followed by a bull who didn’t like us cutting through his territory and came to a point where we heard howls. We knew we were close to the monkeys, followed the howls and got to a few trees that were full of monkeys, big and small. It was beautiful. We just sat there and watched them for a really long time. The vegetation at the bottom hill of the volcano looked so tempting, I had wanted so bad to go further, but it was already too hot, we hadn’t planed to climb it and didn’t have sufficient water. We slowly walked back and our little excursion of 2 hours had just been perfect. Later on we went to the beach again. Some of the people at El Zopilote had some dramas going on, that’s just how it is. Some are stupid and annoying and are wanna-bes, others are nice to hang out with. We kind of just stayed out of dramas and minded our own stuff. Someone had told us that the next internet would be down the beach so Jason and I took a walk. It was way further away than we had thought and we only did the urgent stuff. Over there we met a Belgian guy, David from our eco-farm that we were happy to join for the return-walk, as it had turned dark and we hadn’t brought a lamp. We walked along the beach and it seemed that the stupid walk would never end. It was so far away. We had dinner at a local restaurant and came back late when everybody was already sound asleep. On the day of our departure we left later than we had intended. We waited a while for the bus and we were happy when one finally showed up. The two Swiss guys were leaving as well so it was nice to have company. They asked us what our next destination was and we told them we were headed to a surf village. They were not into surf, but into fishing and lots of tranquility, so they joined us on our travels.
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