Our hearts don’t believe in borders. When roaming the planet, we love to see all the people we meet as one and the same as ourselves, full of potential and good in heart.
We are all equal in the fact that we are all different. We are all the same in the fact that we will never be the same. We are united by the reality that all colours and all cultures are distinct & individual. We are harmonious in the reality that we are all held to this earth by the same gravity. We don’t share blood, but we share the air that keeps us alive. ~ C. JoyBell C.
Unfortunately, the world knows division and simply staying in a countries’ borders without limitations isn’t possible. So, spending over 90 days in Costa Rica we had to find a way to renew our visa. With most Central American countries you only have to leave the country for 48 hours and upon re-entry your 90-day limit resets. Having planned to see places in the north of the country, it was easy for us to cross the border of Nicaragua. Several people along our trip told us about a beautiful island laid in Lake Nicaragua and we were bound to set foot on Isla Ometepe!
The things that add magic to a place for us are the spiritual stories we hear about them, and often it’s based on the most obvious things. Ometepe basically exists because two huge volcanoes rose out of the giant lake. The 8-shape symbolizes infinity, and the two volcanoes can easily represent breasts. Yes you read it right, boobies. The center of the infinity shaped island, where the two volcanoes connect, was once the place where natives gave birth. Mother – the gate between the spiritual world and the physical world, the passage for every one of us.
“Helado de coco!”, two old women scream out repeatedly, “con leche!” (coconut ice cream – with milk). They kept screaming as if they knew it would take about 50 times before we would actually buy a $0.10 plastic bag and suck the ice cream out of it. Our “chicken” bus – as they call it – looked like it could break down at any moment but still a flat screen TV played the latest music video of Sharika. Quite a funny situation!
Ometepe is known by tourists for being one of the cheapest places to rent a scooter. Honestly they don’t even seem to care if you have a license! Patricia is the one with a driving license but she didn’t feel comfortable being in control of a scooter so Sieger excitedly took the keys. Our first day we rented a scooter for only $15 and got to see a big part of the island by cruising around. We visited a small raw-organic chocolate factory called El Pital, which provided freshly made chocolate like we never ate before. A beautiful sunset welcomed us for our two week stay in Nicaragua and we enjoyed the view as the volcanos turned red.
Not one hostel will come close to Tecali. The host, Nelly, opens up her land and treats you like her child with a big heart and a fitting smile. Based on some advice from a traveler we met in Costa Rica we arrived at her property. One of the first things she asked was if we were hungry. Before we knew it we were eating a delicious portion of local food! Staying a night with breakfast and dinner included only costs an exceptional $10 per person, something which we could never see in Costa Rica. Nelly enjoys hosting travelers ranging from all ages and races. It’s as if her mind is storing an enormous book filled with stories of all the people that stayed at her hostel.
We decided to spend another day with a scooter, our goal was to drive around parts we didn’t see yet. Maybe, leaving the main road wasn’t the best idea… But, we kept going, and some parts our little two wheeled vehicle got slammed against rocks. Several times Patricia had to jump off the back and walk up steep bumpy inclines. It wasn’t immediately a comfortable or relaxed ride, but we had fun and saw the entire island! Locals would wave at us and laugh as they saw us pass on a scooter totally not suitable for the condition of their road. Our ride got even better when it suddenly started raining, making all the stones wet and the dirt muddy. Luckily we had Nelly waiting for us with delicious local food to fill our bellies!
The goal of many that visit Ometepe is to reach the top of at least one volcano. The biggest, Conception 5,282ft (1610m), is a very hard hike and takes easily 8 to 10 hours of non-stop walking. We decided to go for Maderas 4,573ft (1394m), slightly lower in altitude but definitely still a tough climb, even for active people! With two others from our hostel, we left at 8 am, not arriving home until 6 pm. Our guide was Sebastian, a 60+ year old man, who inspired us to keep going without slowing down. Even though he had health problems and nerve pain in his leg, he still goes to the top at least every week. Incredible! He could charge a lot more money for being a tour guide up the volcano but he doesn’t do it for the money. Raised on Ometepe, he ran up and down the volcano for work and play. With a lot of pride for the island he enjoys to share every detail with those who wish to experience the magic on the peak.
Studying the map, we noticed the lagoon on top of the volcano and Patricia knew she wanted to go for a swim. You’d say the water would be hot, but the sleeping giant only had ice cold water for us! After climbing the mountain, we dove into the crater with the feeling of mud particles swirling around our bodies. It was an enlightening experience. Afterwards, we felt surprisingly energized, like our spirits had been cleansed. Hiking further to the top we were still surrounded by mist. We sat down talking with our guide, as we suddenly saw the whole mountain clear up and reveal a magical view on the lagoon! The timing was perfect! We were all stunned by the beauty this volcano shared with us and never will we forget the blessing of that day. Going down we had the whole island in front of us, with a clear view over the other volcano. Wauwza.
Ometepe is a world on its own. We loved it! The jungle on the volcanos is magical and you can hear monkeys all around you when going for a hike. Only the past few years, tourism increased incredibly and sadly for the nature it will only increase more in the future. Still, we recommend everybody who crosses Nicaragua to visit Ometepe. And definitely stay in Hostel Tecali to experience how local, open hearted people on the island live!
From our hearts to yours,