The Americas travel blog

Ometepe Island

We have to leave this beautiful place today to travel to the border to cross into Nicaragua. We travel for and hour and a half and then we must say goodbye to Carlos. He is a lovely man, a great driver and a good snake spotter. We pay the exit tax and get the appropriate stamps in our passport and then walk the 'no mans land' to Nicaragua. Here the authorities take all our passports and process them together, a little money changes hands and we have our luggage scanned but nothing is searched and we enter Nicaragua. We load everything into our new vehicle, meet Hector our new driver, and then Tomas muttera something about changing money and goes off with Hector. Half an hour later we wonder what is going on. An hour later and we start to worry. Tomas finally comes back and there is a big problem. Hector drove from Guatemala to pick us up and for some unknown reason the authorities are saying he can only stay in Nicaragua for 3 days and we are here 6 days Tomas and Hector have been arguing with the authorities and offered bribes but they won't back down. The plan now i, we get into 2 taxis with our luggage and drive the one hour to San Jorge and catch the ferry to Ometepe island at 12 noon. The first thing we notice is a 5 kms of trucks lined up to cross the border into Costa Rica. It must take forever for them to get through. The second thing is, this country is much poorer than its neighbour. There are quite a few horses being ridden, or a horse and cart are being used and in one small town we pass though the locals use bicycle taxis. We make it to the ferry in time and it's a slow (2 hour) crossing over Lake Nicaragua. This island consists of two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas, with a small isthmus between and it sits within the lake that has the only fresh water sharks in Central America. The lake is 8264 sq kilometres so it looks almost like a sea. Concepcion is so named as it is like this volcano gave birth to the island.

The ferry docks at Moyogalpa and we disembark and are collected in a van from our hotel, Villa Paraiso. We check in and then head down to the private lake front beach for a swim in the lake. The water is surprisingly warm, Florida type temperature, and it is quite shallow at the shore so we have to walk out quite a way for the water to reach our waist.

Tonight we eat dinner in the Hotel, a Nicaraguan specialty, pork, plantains, fried cheese (bit like Haloumi) and salad. Very good food and we notice the prices in Nicaragua are much cheaper than Costa Rica or Panama.

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