Ometepe and the two day homestay

Opetepe is a small island in the middle of lake Nicaragua that was born by the rise of two volcanos. Once a dry non inhabitable area, the island was now covered in green, jungle like vegetation and hosted a small community. We would live with the locals; that was our two nights home stay of the trip.

There is no other way to get to Ometepe but to get the fairy from the mainland and travel for one hour through the lake. We were greeted by our guides there and were taken to the homes, conveniently located next to the lake. Our hostess was an old lady named Sacoro and the house we stayed was the only one with running water. As we found later, some of the other traveling buddies were not so lucky. They had to rely on water buckets for shower and toilet. The houses were dusty and seemed old, had aluminum roofs and all rooms were communicating with each other through the gap between the tilted roof and the upper walls, toilet and shower included. No way to feel like home here. We left our stuff in the room and moved towards the common area where we had an outdoor dinner by the lake, prepared by the locals. We then went straight to bed. It would be a long day the next one.

We woke up at five by the sizzling sound and smell of omelette and beans. Our hostess had woken up earlier and started preparing breakfast. We had to have breakfast at five thirty and catch the van for Conception, the second tallest volcano of Nicaragua and the active one among the two on Ometepe. It was volcano climbing day. The route would take us through the thick jungle up to a viewpoint of 1000 meters and then a 45 degree climb up to the crater, about 650 meters above the viewpoint. Thats a 16 km hike and an ascent of 1650 meters from sea level in 5 hours. That was also one of the most challenging and intense activities i have ever done. The first hour and a half was easy, ascending slowly towards the root of the mountain, through sand and gravel covered paths. The intermediate part was a steeper ascent through the jungle which was inhabited by numerous exotic birds, snakes, lizards and two kinds of monkeys; the howlers and the white face monkeys. Two hours, and a lot of sweat later we exited the jungle and reached to the viewpoint. By that time i could feel my leg muscles burning; the most difficult part was yet to come. We took a ten minute break to catch our breath, have a small snack and hydrate, and started walking or better put, crawling towards the crater. It took nearly two hours to get up there and it was intense. I mean really, really intense. Heart thumping, deep breath intense. The view was amazing; us standing on a narrow ledge of no more than 1.5 meters in width, with the chaotic crater fuming below us. You could easily sense vertigo setting in fast. We snapped some quick pictures and as much as we would like to stay there a bit longer to rest, the guide got us up and start walking downwards again. The toxic air on top would not permit for a prolonged stay.

The way down was no easier than climbing. Halfway through the route, i could feel my legs starting to give up. I slipped a few times while the way to the bus seemed endless. The dirty vehicle was the sweetest sight i laid eyes on, only second to the crater, today. On the way back we stopped to the main town to get some water and beer. Needless to say that a large part of the liquid was consumed before we headed back. The beer was finished by the lake. Up to this moment (24 hours later) i still haven’t peed. I guess dehydration took its toll on me. The rest of the day was relaxing. After a two part shower, once in the lake to wash away the dust, mud, gravel and bugs that attached themselves on us on the hike and a second shower in the house, we had dinner, tried stay awake as much as possible and by 22:30 we were under the mosquito net in bed, sleeping. The next day we got up early and took the long way back to Nicaragua and towards Costa Rica.