Day ?: Trip to Ometepe   June 23, 2012

OK...this will be the third time I have tried this note about Ometepe. I think I'm going to break up my posts into smaller units so I can catch up and hopefully, not lose any more of them.

So, on Saturday morning, we headed out to Ometepe Island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua toward southern Nicaragua. Ometepe is an 8-shaped island dominated by two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas. I think the first one used to play shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. 

We were headed for a place called Finca Montania Sagrada, which translates roughly to "Place in the Jungle with Crappy Roads and Really Hot Bedrooms." Polly said that's not right and that she's pretty sure it means "The Sacred Mountain Ranch." What does SHE know? It's also known as "Hari's Horses" because Hari, the owner, keeps horses and does horse tours of the island. That's the reason for the trip and I'll call the place Hari's Horses from here out.

We had to get a ride from Granada to San Jorge to catch a ferry. No problem there. We hopped on the ferry and were quite impressed. Passengers, cars, trucks...BAR! Really? Tonias on the deck and a pretty ride across the lake to the volcanoes! We're good to go!

As Scott and the Snow-White Princesses (Annie and Polly) settled into the cool of the shaded lower deck, Grady and I parked ourselves on the deck above, exposed to sun, wind and beautiful views. Besides, getting hot on the deck gave me an excuse to sample more of the local brew, Tonia!

"This is a special ferry," a man sitting on the deck said to me. 
"Oh, cool," I replied. "What makes it special?"
"It hasn't sunk yet! Ha ha ha ha."

Hmmm....I think another Tonia might help.

We made it safely to Ometepe, failing to re-create the "Poseidon Adventure," and found our driver. We also found our van...and it was not encouraging. I hoped we didn't have far to go because I wasn't sure if our ride had much left. But when I saw 8 people behind us pile into an ox cart, I decided I would not complain about the "Little Van that Probably Could."

If I had ever wondered if labor was cheap in Nicaragua, our 45 minute ride to Hari's Horses cleared that up. We drove on 20 miles of the smoothest, levelest, nicest road we had been on in Nicaragua. (Keep in mind, this island is pretty rustic). And every mile was made up tens of thousands of perfectly laid and aligned pavers, like on your patio. The driver said that a year ago, the road wasn't there. Wow. That road in the States would have taken 5 years, 2 union strikes, 137 workman comp claims and countless permits and EPA violations! 

But the Long and Winding Road was soon turned into "The Relatively Short and Incredibly Painful Bumpy Ride from Hell." We turned off the nice road onto the "main" road to the village of Merida where Hari's is located. Oh my gosh. I think they took all the rocks they had to move to make the nice, pretty road and dumped them on the Merida road. It took us 23 hours to go 17 yards. OK, not quite that bad, but I never let the truth stand in the way of a good story. Suffice to say, the road sucked, and we'll leave it at that.

We finally made it to the driveway to Hari's. And the van let us out. What? 

"Oh...the road up the hill is too rough," said our driver.

Too rough? Bataan marchers would have thought the last road was rough and now the driver thought the DRIVEWAY to Hari's was too rough? He still wouldn't take us. Adios, propina (look it up).

So, we strapped on the backpacks, luckily only full of shorts, t-shirts and peanut butter, and headed up the 300 yard driveway. Fortunately, a man and woman on a motorcycle stopped and asked if Annie wanted to ride. 

WARNING! HELICOPTER MOM ALERT! Take a break from reading and go work on picking out your kid's outfit for the first day of school. Make sure the shoes match nicely so other helicopter moms don't talk! Then, arrange a play date for next Thursday.

Annie definitely wanted to ride as walking is not her thing. So, we stuck Annie between man in the front and woman in the back. "OK, honey, put on your helm...." ZOOOOOOOMMMMM....Gone.   

"Never mind. You probably won't need a helmet. The big rocks will break your fall! See you at the top1"

End of Part I of Ometepe Island. (I'll try to post it before I lose it.)

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