La Isla Ometepe: The Mystical Island of Wrong Information


¡Buenas! I don’t even know how to write this post since it feels like there is so much to include! The whole week since we left La Mariposa has been so crazy! Apologies in advance if this post is super long and/or disorganized. I’m writing it on my phone while sitting on a bus from Nicaragua to San Jose.

Ok, well, I guess I’ll begin at the beginning! On Sunday, we were scheduled to leave La Mariposa and head to La Isla Ometepe, an island with two volcanoes located in the middle of Lago de Nicaragua. Lonely Planet describes it as a “mystical island with twin volcanoes,” so of course we were intrigued. The night before we left, we booked a place on Airbnb. What could go wrong, right??

(Side note: don’t book Airbnb places without reviews!)

So, with our accommodations all set, we left La Mariposa at 9am on Sunday. The woman at Mariposa told us they called Über, and we were impressed. It didn’t seem like such a rural place could have Über. Also, we were confused because we didn’t know you could call an Über without using the app. Well…as it turns out, our driver’s name was Uber!! So yeah, she called Uber, but it wasn’t quite what we thought it would be. We chuckled quite a bit about that one all week.

Uber (the man, not the app) was really nice and got us safely to Port San Jorge, which is where we caught the ferry for la isla. He helped us identify sugar cane (la caña, which helps explain the name of the rum Flor de Caña) and chatted with us a bit during the ride (in Spanish, of course).

We got to the port at 10:30 or so and spent a bit of time figuring out how the ferries worked. We tried texting Pedro, the guy who was supposed to meet us with the key for our Airbnb rental. He kept calling us back trying to say something, but we kept getting disconnected (as it turns out, he was trying to tell us that he had calling and whatsapp but no texting [we couldn’t use whatsapp because we didn’t have wifi {note to selves: get a Nicaragua Movistar chip next time}]).

We were practically the last ones on the ferry, so they had us move up to the front of the boat (is that called the stern?). We were quite excited because we had a great view and lots of fun! (Note to self #2: more sunblock next time!)





Once we got to the island, we found Pedro right away (he had a Brigget sign). There is a section in Lonely Planet that depictsf one small town in Nicaragua as a “sweet yet slightly sketchy new friend.” We soon discovered that this is a perfect phrase for our new buddy Pedro. Pedro doesn’t speak English, which isn’t a problem since our Spanish is really coming along. However, he was somewhat hard to understand at first (it got easier as the day went on). The confusing part was all the noises he made in addition to his speaking. He was quite animated and did all sorts of sound effects and gestures when he talked. It is really difficult to convey in writing how perplexing the whole thing was.

So anyway, we got in this van and headed to our rental. It was in Sacramento (the Nicaraguan one, not the Californian one, obviously), which on the map appeared to be close to the port.

As the van drove, we noticed that we seemed to be going farther and farther from civilization. We all sort of got kind of quiet and sent knowing looks to each other. But at the same time, we didn’t really know what the heck to do. So we just kept going and trusted that we would soon find a nearby town or something. I asked Pedro if there were places to get food, and he said there’s a pulperia (convenience store) nearby. He also pointed out a restaurant/bar/house in the middle of nowhere.

We finally arrived at the house (which actually was a bit surprising considering just how insanely bumpy the dirt roads were!). When I say it was near nothing, I mean it was near nothing!! Well, there was a church next door (and of course a park across the street from the church), but other than houses, horses, cows, and chickens, there was nothing. The “beach” that the Airbnb page described was actually a rock beach and nothing like the sandy beaches pictured on the description. The house itself was super cute…very colorful and it had a nice porch with a hammock. But cuteness can only get you so far when you learn that there’s no running water and you’re miles from civilization! Pedro said there “should” be water later (which we eventually found out would be at 3am). Let’s not forget the fact that we didn’t have any food with us because we thought we’d be staying in a tourist spot. Needless to say, we were worried.









I think Pedro realized how nervous we were (and to be honest I think he was a bit nervous for us, considering the fact that he kept saying how crazy it was that four beautiful gringas were in Sacramento…I’m pretty sure we were the first gringas in town!). So, he took it upon himself to walk us to the “nearby” restaurant and sat with us while we ate and hung out. He was nice, albeit a bit confusing overall. We weren’t sure how long he planned to stay with us, and he just kind of kept hanging around. Eventually he walked us back to the house. During that journey, Amanda chased a chicken and a cow (she didn’t catch either, but it was fun to watch). We attempted some selfies with the baby cow, but it didn’t seem to be too into having its photo taken.

Once we got back to the house, we decided to go for a dip in the lake since it was almost sunset. We romped around there for a while as we watched the beautiful sunset. At first Pedro just sort of stood there creepily while we frolicked (we didn’t quite understand why he was still with us), and eventually he stripped down to his skivvies and came in the water, too! It was all very strange, but he seemed harmless (and he was), so we just went with it. And seriously that sunset…vale la pena!









We spent the rest of the night playing Wizard and Pitch, and we went to bed early since we had no food or anything, and if we stayed up much later we would have gotten hungry! Sleeping in that house really made me understand why Lonely Planet called la isla a mystical place. The noises definitely made me feel like something supernatural was going on…from the crazy aguaceras (downpours) to the strong breezes to animal noises, I felt like there was definitely some supernatural stuff going on! Plus it was pitch black (like REALLY pitch black) (although I checked for the Milky Way band and didn’t see it), so just overall it was a creepy night of sleep.

When we woke up on Monday, we all seemed to have processed the fact that we couldn’t stay in that house another night. First, the water had stopped running again (we know it was on at 3am because that’s when Bridget woke up to the sound of the kitchen sink randomly turning itself on), and secondly, we had a ferry to catch Tuesday morning, and we were in a much too remote location to bank on finding a taxi into town that early. So we busted out the Lonely Planet guide, and Bridget called a place that looked promising. And boy was it! Not only did they speak English (Spanish is still really difficult for me on the phone), but they also said they’d be there to pick us up in an hour (thank goodness for Parque de Amistad!). Woo hoo!!

We got packed up and called Pedro to let him know we were leaving a day early. He came by to get the keys and hung out with us while we waited for our miraculous ride. Once the pickup truck showed up, we said our goodbyes to Pedro (after he said one last “Rebecca Rebecca Rebeccaaaaa”) and piled in the back of the truck. The first thing the driver asked us was, “how the heck did you get here?!” He was floored that four gringas were even attempting to stay where we were. He explained that it took a little while to come get us because no one would agree to drive all the way out to Sacramento (more on this dramatic irony later).

The ride back into town was great. We saw lots of animals, and people stared at us like we were crazy. It felt kind of like a superhero came in and rescued us, and I think we were all rejoicing in our own ways throughout the journey. I don’t know about the rest of the girls, but I was just really happy about the prospect of food and coffee, neither of which were available in Sacramento. Once we got to the hostel, the guy who picked us up was asking more questions about what the heck we were doing in Sacramento. Our favorite line from the convo was when he said, “I’m a tour guide and even I’ve never been to that fucking place!” It was great.

(Sorry, that line was too good to censor.)








Once we got checked in to the hotel, we dropped our stuff and headed straight for breakfast. We were finally able to have a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast, complete with gallo pinto, queso, and huevos. It was much, much needed and completely delish!


You’d think this blog post should be over by now, but the rest of the adventure has just begun! (Hey, I warned ya it’d be a long one!)

The next leg of our journey involved purchasing bus tickets back to San Jose. We had received lots of conflicting information about where to buy tickets (this seems to be par for the course for Nicaragua), but we finally figured out that there was a Nicabus ticket office inside one of the grocery stores. Once we found it, an amazing woman named Daniela helped us buy tickets. We had to wait extra because Daniela only had three tickets on the island and we needed four (we were starting to feel cursed by this point). But she was able to have someone in Rivas fill it out, and I think they actually brought it over on the ferry (no, you can’t just order things online here). We were so thrilled to have tickets for the next day at 11, so we continued our day and actually found some time to enjoy the island.

We went a few places with the guy who drove us in his pickup truck earlier. His name was Maurio Antonio, and he was super nice. He took us to Ojo Lago (or something like that), which was basically a pool but the water came from natural springs and is supposedly relaxing. At first I was skeptical, but I have to admit that my skin felt quite smooth after taking a dip!

After the watering hole, as we’ve been calling it, we headed to Playa Santo Domingo, which is a white sand beach with some waves (I never knew lakes could have waves!). It was overcast and pretty windy, so we didn’t go in the water. It was, however, a nice place to sit back and have a Toña, which is of course always enjoyable.

We then headed to a great sunset spot called Punta de Maria Jesús. We were only there a few minutes (we needed to get back to Daniela to pick up the last Nicabus ticket), but we got some fun jumping and sunset pics before we left. It was quite spectacular indeed.








The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We went for dinner and then back to the hostel. We did have a funny moment when chatting with a guy (in Spanish) about our day, and we told him that we were previously in Sacramento. He burst out laughing and was just like “how did you get there?!” (Why does everyone keep asking how we got there??) And we tried to explain Pedro and the van, and he just couldn’t believe it. I told him I think we are the first gringas in Sacramento and he agreed. He just kept laughing about it over and over. It was pretty hilarious. We have come to the general conclusion that we are lucky to be alive.

One would think that this is enough adventure for a few days, but guess what? It doesn’t stop there!

On Tuesday, we woke up early and headed out for what we thought should be the 8:30 ferry. But since we were on the Island of Wrong Information, we of course had the wrong ferry times (the guy who gave them to us listed the times TO the island instead of FROM it). So, the next ferry left at 9, according to some guard-type fellow. We had plenty of time and went to eat breakfast (more pinto…yum!). We arrived back at the dock to get ferry tickets, but, not surprisingly at this point, we learned that the 9:00 ferry was broken. Ummmm what? Ok, so we had to deal with the fact that there was no 9:00 ferry. 9:00 was already cutting it short, so, once again, we had to do some problem solving. We headed back to Daniela to tell her we’d miss the bus, and she said it was the last one of the day. But, because she is a superhero and I’m pretty sure a magician, she managed to transfer the bus tickets to Wednesday, and we didn’t need to pay $30 for new ones.

Although it was good to have our Wednesday bus backup, we still wanted to get back on Tuesday because Bridget and I had to work on Wednesday (yet another note to selves: don’t schedule travel in Latin America one day before you have to be at work). So, we kept doing some research about getting home on a different bus. We looked online and I was able to get in touch with a tico friend who called for me, and we learned that there was a 2pm bus home on Ticabus. All hope was not lost! We bought our tickets, boarded the 10am bus at 9:45 or so, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Once it was 10:30 or so, we began to wonder. Now folks, traveling in Latin America is different from traveling in the States. Things don’t always leave on time, and there are no announcements about delays or updates or anything as convenient as that would be. So all we could do was wait. We began to hear rumors that the boat couldn’t take off because of high winds (these rumors turned out to be true). But since they didn’t have a time that we would leave, we decided to just sit and wait (as long as we left by 12, we’d still make the 2:00 bus…right?).

Fast forward to 1:00 or so, when the boat had still not launched. Each flame of hope was slowly burning out, and Bridget and I were finally accepting the fact that we would most likely not make it to work. We finally decided to get off the boat and go get lunch. We found a Mexican place next to a hostel for which we had the wifi password. We were able to check in with all our communication platforms and regroup a bit.

And then the fun began again. As soon as we started paying our bill, we overheard a woman say that the boat was leaving. Amanda basically threw money in the guy’s face and screamed “JUST KEEP IT!!” about the whopping dollar change. We grabbed our things and started running down to the dock. Everyone in the street was yelling “go! Go! Go chicas!!” And they were cheering us on. We may or may not have gone into slow motion while “Chariots of Fire” began to play from the sky.

We eventually made it to the boat, but that’s not the end of the story. The second Amanda stepped on the ferry’s platform, she was reminded of how slippery her flip-flops were. She slipped and landed completely supine, but luckily she had her backpack to break her fall (we still aren’t sure if her laptop is smashed to smithereens or not). Like the good friends and random strangers we are, we all started laughing (but so did Amanda so we aren’t horrible people). Fortunately she was just fine, despite being just a little bit embarrassed.


I was going to wait until tomorrow and finish this then, but I fear that if I wait, I’ll never finish and post it. There are still some adventures and hijinx to finish up writing about, plus a special guest post from Amanda’s point of view, but for now, I shall post this as is and then go to bed. Spoiler alert: we made it home alive and I am in my own bed. Woo hoo!

I will post Part 2 in the next couple of days, but for now, adios!

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