Part 2: Day ?: Trip to Ometepe Island June 23, 2012

The walk to the ranch was actually on a better road than the Road from Hell and it was quite pleasant as it was shaded by jungle stuff. We saw a couple random horse, pigs, goats and parrots. Like a free-range zoo.

We arrived at Hari's and it was a beautiful little oasis at the base of the Maderas volcano. Surrounded by coffee fields, rice fields and every insect scientists have thought extinct, it was exactly what I was hoping for when I booked the night. We wanted to get away from the "city" and ride horses in the jungle. Annie was so excited about riding the horses I thought she would pop! And I was more excited than she was to watch her ride. 

A little bit about Hari and his wife. He's in his mid-late 50's and he's the prototypical "escape the rat-race to live naturally in the jungle" kind of guy. He's German, his wife is Italian. He left home at 17 to study yoga in India for 7 years. He speaks German, Italian, Spanish, English, Hindi and Urdu. I do not speak Urdu, so we had to go with English. 

He's very friendly and cares VERY much for his horses. His are the only horses I've seen that are shoed (not counting the tourist wagon horses in Granada).  He and his wife grow most of their own food and are great cooks!

About the place: There is an open-air kitchen/dining room that has been built beautifully by hand. There are currently 2 rooms for rent in a brand new building. They have baths, great beds, a ceiling fan and...uh oh...mosquito nets. NEVER a good sign. There are a few more living quarters for them and a friend and they are finishing up another place to try to increase rentals. It's likely no one reading this will go there, but I highly recommend it and here's a link to his website (Yes, in the jungle he can get cell connectivity for his laptop!)

We got settled into our room and man, it was hot. Sure, there's a fan, but we didn't want to open the windows because there were no screens. Hmmm...not sure why that is and I didn't ask. Later, we chose NOT to open the windows. It was hot, but I had no idea WHAT might crawl in the window. Later on, Hari told about the tarantulas the size of plates, so I'm thinking the window closed thing was a good idea! I doubt the mosquito nets would have kept out a beast that size!

Anyway, Hari asked what we wanted for dinner and said he'd handle it. But he wasn't prepared for us to have lunch as he wasn't expecting us. He referred us to a little place in the village called Margarita's and sent us on our way. We hiked along a trail with rice fields on one side and roaming cows and bulls on the other. After a 1/2 mile through the woods, we came to the village of Merida. 

Ummm...yeah. Village. I'm learning that everything here is relative. Relative to a single house on the side of the road, Merida WAS a village. A dirt road with several houses on it and 2 businesses, the aforementioned Margarita's and a pulperia (little convenience store). I did not worry about getting lost in town.

We noticed at Margarita's three local guys having beers and watching soccer on TV (Spain vs. France, FYI). We approached and asked Margarita (the owner) if they had food. Well, POLLY approached and asked if they had food. I just drooled and eyed the guys' beers. No problem! She said she'll cook some things up! Uh oh.  

Meanwhile, Polly got into a conversation with the locals while I played the 200th game of Uno with Annie and Grady. Scott was talking to the locals, too, as his Spanish is coming along nicely. Grady and Annie were still a little standoffish as the language thing is pretty intimidating for them. But, alas, they found common ground with one of the local guys.

A coconut. 

Grady and Annie had become obsessed with trying to open a coconut. They went in the front "yard" of Margarita's and took to attacking a poor, innocent coconut. They smacked it with a rock, threw it at a fence, struck it with a stick.

Coconut - 1    Silly American Kids - 0

But to the rescue came one of our new Nica friends (can't remember his name). He was large, bald and VERY friendly! He ran next door and got a machete which he then used to carefully dissect the coconut for the kids. They were enthralled watching him make short-shrift of the stubborn little coconut. 

He then let us all drink some of the water directly from the coconut. Not so good. Let me put it this way. Scott said he's had coconut water from Whole Foods and it was sweeter than this and tasted better. He now knows that SOMETHING had to be added to the Whole Foods coconut water because the stuff he just drank tasted like monkey pee. (Note: Scott, in no way, knows what monkey pee tastes like. This was merely creative license on the part of the author! But it did taste slightly salty and warm, so you can use your own imagination and make your own comparison!).

Needless to say, the kids didn't like it, but they still thought it was very cool. We tried some of the coconut....meat?...and it was just as bad. So, I was eagerly awaiting Margarita's creation for us.

The kids, however, had taken off on their next adventure. That would be chasing chickens up and down the road and around the yard. We talked to locals while they created their own fun.

NOTE: One of the things Polly and I have decided is that we entertain our kids WAY too much and we need to stop. We think we are doing them a disservice and crushing their creativity and ability to create their own diversions, entertainment, etc. "We're bored." "What can we do?"    Ugh...    This really became apparent when we made it here to the beach at Playa Marsella and met the Australians next door who live in a big "tree house" and let their kids, 5, 10 & 14 run all over the place. More about them later. 

Uh oh...rain. It started really coming down and we were worried about our horse trip scheduled for later that day. But then the kids started going really nuts playing in the rain. They ran up and down the road, threw coconuts around and basically entertained the neighbors who were staring out their windows wondering who the crazy white kids were chasing their goats! 

And when they got muddy, no sweat! They just stood under the rain gutters and took a natural shower! I knew they had tetanus shots, so I didn't worry too much. 

But it was a blast. The kids did what kids are supposed to we got to eat an AMAZING home-cooked chicken, rice and bean meal that was awesome! Scott and Polly also got a beautiful veggie/fruit plate. We ate, drank Tonias, talked to the locals and all laughed at our slightly brain-damaged children chasing chickens, throwing coconuts and taking gutter showers. 

This is the goal of The Long and Winding Road.

Time to pay the bill: 3 chicken/rice dinners, 6 Tonias, 1 big fruit/veggie tray, tortured chickens and coconuts:   $11

End of Part 2: Next up...Horse tour around a volcano!

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