I am floating on my back in Lake Nicaragua. I slowly tread water with my arms and legs. My nose, mouth and eyes are above water. The cool water feels good after the hot humid afternoon. I open my eyes and see the new moon shining above in the clear, blue sky. I turn my head to the right and see the older volcano. I turn my head to the left and see the newer volcano. This is Isla de Ometepe.
I took a ferry from Granda to the Isla de Ometepe. The ferry left almost two hours late and took about four hours to reach the Island. The ferry continues for another eight hours south to Solentiname, indicating just how large the lake is (177 km long, 58 km wide). I arrived in the dark and took a “taxi” to the hotel. We had to stop once to fix the battery. The “road” is a rocky track. I could see one volcano silhouetted in the moonlight.
In the morning I could see the Island, really there are two islands formed by two volcanoes and connected by an Isthmus. While one volcano is dormant and somewhat worn, the other is active and sent up a plume of smoke several months ago. The island is the simple life: families tend small plots of land with chickens and pigs. Mango, papaya, plantain and other fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. Fish from the lake are widely available.
I kayaked the river connecting the two islands, hiked a trail half way up the dormant volcano and visited two coffee farms. I swam in the lake; the sand on the beach is fine and black in color. I climbed the volcano to a point called the Mirador. It has a wonderful 270 degree view of the islands, volcanoes, isthmus and distant island and shores. On the way down the volcano, I saw some howler monkeys. The dominant male was making his monkey noises. I mimicked him and to my surprise, he answered me.
I stayed in El Encanto and ate most meals there; Jose and Helena are wonderful hosts. Overall the Island experience is very peaceful. I am sad to leave. I think continuing south on the ferry and going down the Rio San Juan would be good.