We took a one hour ferry from San Jorge to Ometepe island (pop. 45,000, dogs: 20000 cars:150, tourists per year: 100,000).
Mila: The ferry ride over was very boring except there was wind in our faces. The End.
Lisa: Ometepe has two volcanos, named Conception and Madera, and the island is shaped like a sideways eight, the two circular volcanic landmasses joined by a small strip. Conception last blew 1956, no locals left and no-one was hurt. Madera last erupted around 1100AD and there are thousands of volcanic rocks scattered across the eastern island from then. Ben, owner of Cafe Compestre restaurant and rooms in Balgue, where we are staying, says dealing with all the rocks all the time drives him mad, whilst the western side covet this free building material. Somehow the rocks have not managed to make this short migration in the last 1000 years. It’s all very Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I bought a copy of Marquez short stories to read to the girls, to share the strangeness and find his magic here.
Tourism is low key but growing exponentially, apparently, as of this year. The key to unlock foreigners visiting here, or not, is one small secret – that it is safe to travel in Nicaragua. By contrast Costa Rica, pretty comparable safety wise, but with a huge tourism marketing effort, is exploding with visitors. Amazing the difference marketing makes and how people are happy to accept received wisdom. The Nicaraguan tourist marketing has only just started so it is likely that the gap between these central american countries will close quickly. The Nicaraguan government has built four airstrips on small island locations in the last few months, including Ometepe. The prefix eco- has begun to pop up everywhere a gringo may venture, to Ralph’s eternal (Spanish translation:interminable!) annoyance. btw Amor Interminable = Eternal Love, seen carved on the door of a beautiful hippy mountainside lodging yesterday.
Disembarking the ferry we got caught in the rain, and grabbed a taxi to the other side of the island. As we left the port town Moyogalpa, we caught the tail end (so many tails! tail de cerdos, horses, cows, perros, gatos) of a local festival. Everywhere, black volcanic pigs and skinny dogs run about. Amongst many drunk hombres we stopped for a late lunch at an improvised cafe. it took an hour for the food to arrive while the taxi guy waited, we watched the world go by. The girls have endless patience for this traveling.