Ometepe Island, Nicaragua, is shaped like a figure eight around two volcanos. We are on the west side of the northwest volcano and have seen a bit of this part of the island. I have heard about interesting places in the isthmus and around the southeast volcano so I wanted to see these areas too.
There are buses that go to Altagracia (northeast of the volcano near us) every hour but only a few of them go on to other destinations. We caught the morning bus that goes to Balgue which is on the north side of the other volcano, and we took the bikes along so we could do some exploring when we got there. A nice strong guy just picked them up, went up the ladder at the back of the bus and tossed them on the roof!
1 3/4 hours and 80 cordobas later (about $3.20, 20 per person and 20 per bike) we arrived at Balgue.
Our bus! I am glad we got on in town because it wasn’t long before it was standing room only. All sorts of things were on the roof too – rebar, guttering, large sack of things, and there were bags of cement in the back of the bus. The emergency exit in the back is used as just another convenient door.
I thought this man in Altagracia had a very interesting face.
We passed this funny scene of a little shop, a baby, and a couple pigs.
It was interesting to see a new side of the volcano.
Some of the rice drying in the sun.
We rode to the next town and by now it was getting to be lunch time, so we looked for a place to eat. We had seen many tarps with what looked like rice drying so we stopped to ask a lady. She told us that it is indeed rice, and there also is a place to eat just a couple doors away. It was one of those places in the trees and shrubs that looks like someone’s patio, that you wouldn’t even notice if you didn’t know about it. And I am sure it was a much more interesting lunch than any tourist hangout.
The shop that is part of the restaurant. The photo is of a couple family members. There are many extended family here and the lady we first met told us about them and many others who weren’t present. But, by the time she was finished telling me about dozens of people I was a bit lost. The lady in the photo is her mother though. The photo on the right is someone who went to Finland and married a gal there, which explains the blond hair.
A really nice guy, I think a son of the owner came in with his kids and talked to us quite a bit, making it very clear that he was happy to have us here, we were very welcome, and he was going to feed us a very good lunch. The kids were snaking on watermelon and having a great time, though the little ones needed to be hosed off later.
A tame baby deer! They had three that they apparently have as pets. I was told that deer live in these parts but I am not sure how they came to have these babies.
I didn’t think about the camera until I had eaten half the lunch but you can see it was good – Gallo pinto, tomato salad, fried plantains which were a bit like French fries, and fried chicken in a crispy, slightly sweet sauce. They guy with the baby explained that they steam the chicken, and when it is cooked they fry it in a little oil until it is crispy, and the add the sauce.
We asked about this guy who passed in the street and were told he is crazy. He walks all day, sleeps in a ditch at night, hasn’t bathed in 20-30 years, and wears multiple pairs of pants at the same time. He always carries large sacks but they don’t know what it is in them.
This darling little girl wanted to play ball. She could throw but had no idea about catching so it was fun to show her and clap when she caught one. I walked through this area on the way to the bathroom, and it looks like the family living area. Notice the interesting sculpture near the girl in the black shirt, and the pro Che Guevara things on the green wall.
Another family member talks to another patron while a couple other kids wander around. This baby loves bikes and I was afraid he would pull them down on himself.
Lunch finished, we got on our bikes and were on our way, headed down along the isthmus between the volcanos.
Santa Domingo beaches, with the Maderas Volcano in the background.
Looking the other direction on the beach you see the Concepcion Volcano. What a beautiful area!
Clouds start to gather at the top of the volcano while swallows fly around.
This is quite a tourist area and there are many hotels, hostels, and restaurants along the way.
Just a pretty view
There were some huge trees!
Many people had mentioned Ojo de Agua (eye of water), a spring fed pool in the jungle that is very beautiful, so this was our next destination. It definitely was everything it is said to be! Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to believe the beautiful and exotic places I find myself in.
The beautiful pathway to Ojo de Agua
The water was cool, turquoise blue, and very clear. There was a $3 per person fee to get in, but there is a restaurant, bathrooms, changing rooms, and tables and chairs around the pool.
The other end of the pool was deserted and so beautiful.
Many people were enjoying themselves in the water.
Now cooler, relaxed, and refreshed we set out again. After a good amount of uphill climbing we found ourselves in what I believe was El Quino, which is on the main bus route from Altagracia to Moyogalpa, our home base. We had some pretty spectacular views along the way!
Beautiful clouds at the top of the volcano
How cool is this?!
We saw this crazy sight on the road that looked like a moving banana tree! A neighborhood kid who visited this morning explained that they were probably picking leaves for tamales.
These cliffs remind one of the volcanic origin of the island.
Lucky for us, about the time we decided it would be s good time for a bus to come along, here came a bus!
Back on the bus
This time the bikes were put inside the back door
I couldn’t figure out what these little tepees of plants were about. The kid this morning said something about oil? Soybeans for oil? Something like that?
The guys with the ice cream cart wanted to take the bus, so they just loaded the cart into the bus. They even made a couple sales in the process.
Then, all we needed to do was to pick up a few things for dinner, make our way home, walk the dog, shower, and flop on the couch after a great day!
Back at the airport, the volcano was wearing a hat and we were playing with shadows
Another sunset, another great day.