Friday, August 13, 2010

Isla de Ometepe and back

Ometepe was fantastic. This was our first time leaving the RV, with all our stuff and going for an overnight hotel visit. We parked at the ferry building to the side of the main building. The whole area is patrolled day and night by armed employees and the gate is kept closed and guarded 24 hrs, so we expected no problems. Winston was a little hesitant at first, getting onto the boat but with some encouragement, he walked the gang plank, we got some coffee and settled in. The ride to the island takes about 1 hr. and we are in awe at the size of this lake. It is huge with the Isle de Ometepe at it's southern end. Ometepe is a volcanic island made up of 2 volcanoes. The largest is Volcan Concepcion and the smaller Maderas. As we approach for landing we can see that the "port" is little more than a dock at the end of a dirt road. Thank God we didn't bring the RV. Everyone diaembarks. Locals, tourists, supplies for the island, and Winston. Terra firma - he is happy. We are inundated with tour guides. These are local people who happen to have an auto that runs. A man with a pickup said he could take us to Santa Domingo for $20.00. $20.00! We tell him no and say we are going to walk up the road with the dog. He follows - $15.00. We smile and shake our heads. At the top of the road is the main street and a group of Nicaraguans are milling around. "Is there a bus to Santa Domingo?" I ask them. "Sure, just stand on the other side of the road and one will be along at some point". From the maps we had seen of the island, Playa Santa Domingo looked one of the nicest and the Hotel Villa Paraiso was the most upscale. We were hoping to get a room or cabana for the night and that they allow pets. Almost immediately the bus came. A chicken bus but we are used to them and the cost 20 cordobas each. 40 cordobas or $2.00. $20.00 we snort. We have been travelling enough now that we are not intimidated by buses or over-priced taxi drivers. The bus ride took about 45 minutes and again we are struck by the sheer size of the place. We get off at Santa Domingo with another lady. She is a Canadian from Toronto, a teacher travelling by herself via buses. She also says she has had no problems being alone and has been met with only friendly smiles and a warm-hearted people. We ask a passerby for the hotel. Just up the road a little. "Do you think they will let us stay with a dog"? Like everyone else he looks puzzled. "I don't see why, they have dogs themselves". We start up the hill for the short walk to the hotel and part company with the lady from Toronto. She is staying at another place about 2 km. up the road. We go into the hotel. They have a room for $29.00 and cabanas for $73.00. Hmm. Winston is not a problem, in fact no-one even mentioned him except to ask his name and pet him. We check out 3 different cabanas and settle on one with a price of $60.00. It has a lake view, private bathroom, A/C and 2 beds. One for us and one for the dog, they say, smiling. Fantastic. We settle in and go to the restaurant for lunch. Fresh fish is on the menu and that's it. After lunch, we go down to their private beach. Tom can't resist but go into the water. Unlike Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, the lake side is clean without a scrap of trash. "Whoa", I hear Tom. "Hey, I can feel the fish biting and nibbling at me, my legs and back". Be careful, I tell him. Lake Nicaragua is the only landlocked lake that boasts fresh water sharks. That's all we need. Tom bit by a shark. He comes out of the water and asks if I want to go in! I think not. Instead I play with Winston, who also runs in and out of the water and sit and enjoy the views of this beautiful place. After a while we go back up and sit outside with a beer, chatting about our good fortune of finding this place and how fabulous it is. Then the rain starts. We go to the room and Tom rests while I sit outside on our patio, reading and watching the lake. I think of the motorhome and say a little prayer that it will be okay. But since there is nothing more to be done, decide I can't worry about it and doze to the sound of the rain. The hotel is busy. We chat with people from Germany, Canada and a young couple from the States. Everyone loves it here and have nothing but praise for the country and the people. In addition of course to the prices. Forget the dollar, the euro is getting the Europeans a great deal. We get up in the morning and I walk Winston. He is greeted by everyone we meet. He is happy, they all know his name and he lets them pet and stroke him. Then it's time to pack up and take the bus to the ferry port. We are leaving from a different port, Moyogalpa and it takes two buses to get there. The ride back was uneventful and with great relief found our RV safe and sound. The guard came up to check us out. No tip was expected. It was their pleasure. We drive the short distance to the Hotel California where we will spend one more night and reflect, once again, on our good fortune.

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