We’ve heard more than one person sigh nostalgically and call Ometepe a magical place. Indeed, there is a sort of Tolkein-esque aura about the island, what with the twin volcanic peaks rising from the depths of a misty lake large enough for locals to affectionately refer to it as Cocibolca, or ‘Sweet Sea.’
Our adventure here, however, does not involve hobbits or dwarf forests, but rather a Kayak 125 beast with a loose handlebar bolt and a round of food poisoning that nearly does us in…well, nearly does me in, anyway.
Sitting on the front porch of our private cabaña, we plan tomorrow’s island adventure while enjoying the famous Ometepe sunset, complete with fireflies sparkling in the grass.
Since we’ve decided to not fork out the exorbitant wads of cash demanded by monolingual volcano guides, and since climbing the volcanoes without the expertise/gear of a guide would be ill-advised, we hatch a plan to rent one of those obnoxious dirt bikes we’ve been seeing all over Nicaragua. If these bikes are good enough to run entire fruit-stand enterprises and haul families of five to and from church-yes, both at the same time-then we think they must certainly be good enough for two gringos to explore a magical island.
The next day as we rev out of the Finca Venecia, we’re excited to leave behind us the high-maintenance middle-aged travelers (of the “are you sure you don’t carry any grenadine or Bailey’s?” variety) and singing lizards. We plow along the island’s only paved street to lunch on the other side of Volcan Concepcion and then across the isthmus’s bumpy, flooded-out rock pile that passes for a road to Ometepe’s petroglyphs with views of Volcan Maderas.
One slight (hey…I lose only three layers of flesh before Chris’s anxious hands literally pluck me from that wretched death mobile, people!) motorcycle accident and an historic U.S. presidential election later (which we watch crowded around a television set with two rum-drunken New Yorkers apparently trying to become pirates, a couple of Canadians, some expats, a French woman and a gaggle of locals), we’re happy to be sailing back to the mainland on the put-put boat that brung us.
Fireflies lighting up the twilight sky, hundred-foot-tall waterfalls, steaming volcanoes, geckos screaming through the night…maybe this stuff really is better off in high fantasy classics. Or so my injured leg would argue.