The ferry from Rivas/San Jorge stops only at the little town of Moyogalpa on the west coast of Ometepe Island. The ferry ride is about 1 hour and is the quickest way to the island from the mainland; ferries that dock on the north side of the island that come from Granada take as long as 4 hours. Walking from the boat docks into town (above) you’ll see that there isn’t much there: four hotels, two restaurants and a gas station. Up the hill at the top of the street is a small convenience store.
At the time of this writing, the only “decent” service in town (hotel or restaurant) was dispensed at the Bahia Restaurant and Hotel (pink building in top photo). The proprietor there was friendly and helpful (I’ll write more about him later). Standing at about the dead “center” of town looking back towards the docks (photo below) you acn see Lake Nicaragua.
The town had quite Spartan accommodations and only one place offered internet service. The internet was slow but the food at the Bahia was served with cold beer, a warm smile and generous portions.
The owner of Bahia came up and inquired if he could ask us a question and we agreed. He called back to the cook who came running out. The cook was wearing a t-shirt that said, “If you aren’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” The owner said that he and the cook had pondered the meaning of this phrase for a while and couldn’t interpret the meaning.
I asked him if he was familiar with the sled dogs in Canada and Alaska and when he said yes, I explained that in every team of dogs the best and fastest dogs are at the front of the team. He nodded (but still didn’t understand the implication).
“So, if you are the lead dog, you see snow and trees and mountains. But, if you aren’t the lead dog you see…?”
At this point he started laughing uncontrollably and the cook waited with great anticipation for the punch line. The owner quickly relayed my story in Spanish and then the cook started laughing. We all started laughing. As they both walked away, they were shaking their heads and laughing, no doubt thinking (in Spanish), “If you aren’t the lead dog, you’re looking at ass all day long.”
Each time I came out of our hotel I would see these three children and would say, “Hola,” and they would smile and reply in kind. Their father worked at one of the businesses next door and they lived just across the street. I asked if I could take their photo and was given approval. I showed them their picture in the screen of my digital camera and they beamed smiles of approval. Their father came over to see and asked if I would mail a copy to him.
Exploring around the town I walked up to the top of the street where it came to an end in a “T” intersection. At this T was a convenience store where sodas, beer and snacks could be had. I turned back and shot a photo down the main street towards the hotels and towards the lake; you can make out the blue water at the end of the road just above the tree line. It seemed that wherever we went in town we could see the lake; the gentle hill that the town rested on ensured that almost everyone has a 5 star view.
Directly across the street from the convenience store I saw an interesting shop and I can’t say that anywhere in my life have I seen a shop that specializes in truck tires and coffins. Jeff and I began to speculate that perhaps the garage owner was also the town undertaker. Or, perhaps the garage mechanic’s wife ran the funeral home? We weren’t sure but it surely was an odd sight.
There is quite a lot to do on Isle Ometepe; jungle hikes, volcano hikes, kayaking, horseback riding and all sorts of trekking. And sadly, we didn’t do any of those activities. We were really quite exhausted and just enjoyed the tranquil peace and quiet of Moyogalpa; lazy days in the hammock sipping cold beer, chatting with some other travelers that were coming and going. We contemplated a mountain hike but frankly, we were just too tired. We had been on the road for a few weeks and had been packing in a new destination every few days. This is one of the biggest dilemmas a traveler can face: not enough time. Probably the only equal dilemma is: not enough $.
And so, I learned a valuable lesson on this trip, don’t bite off more than you can chew; it is better to see fewer destinations and enjoy yourself than to see a lot of places and get too tired to enjoy them. So, we decided to forgo some of the other activities on the island save for a day trip to the interior villages (below). We took the local bus and got to chat with some of the local people coming and going. It was quite interesting to see how the locals lived, what they wore and how they got from here to there. It was a Saturday and an entire soccer team was on their way to a challenge. All of the young players looked eager to get out and show their metal and score a goal for the home team.
We walked around some of the local villages between stops and it seemed that no matter where we went on the island, the volcano always had a cloud forming at its summit. The jungle was thick everywhere that crops weren’t being planted and the volcano looked down on everyone like a big brother or a parent. I was really beginning to enjoy Nicaragua; it is a beautiful country with warm people and a wonderful climate. Since my visit there, I’ve always dreamed of returning.
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