Escape to Volcano Island

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JP, the father of the family living in the abandoned orphanage recommended that we go to “volcano island” for a day trip, or more properly called Ometepe. After a bumpy, semi-life threatening back o’ the pickup truck ride to the pier, we boarded the ferry for the hour long transit. The wind was delightful, the sun harsh and the crashing of the waves on the ferry’s bow soothing – I do love ferries. They are so mundane for those that ride them regularly,  but a true treat for desert folk such as myself.

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Lake Nicaragua is truly immense – it “feels” like an ocean really, and is relatively clean by Nicaraguan standards. The volcano rises majestically from its dark blue depths. While the volcano is inactive at the moment the possibility of eruption is quite real. Its perfect cone shape causes lenticular clouds to form at its summit as humid air is pushed up and cooled, giving it the constant appearance of being on the edge of violence. The island itself is quite large and could easily take a week to adequately explore – we only walked about four kilometers of it. The town is touristy, but apparently mainly by Nicaraguans only. The town is also quite poor, as is much of rural Nicaragua. We had quite a nice lunch (with many cold beers) for about $5 per person. The dirt floor of the café was “clean” and kept damp to keep the dust down, chickens and dogs greedily picking up any scraps.

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After a baking walk up the dusty main road, we turned off towards the beach. A small resort hotel, bar & restaurant at the end of a dirt road greeted us with a lovely beach and the much appreciated amenities of bathrooms, showers and changing rooms. The resort was quite pleasant, but definitely geared to locals. After an hour playing in the freshwater “sea,” we rushed back to catch the last ferry of the day. Ometepe should be on anyone’s list when in southern Nicaragua!

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Jeff Chapple


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