I’d seen pictures of Ometepe, the island of formed by two volcanos, and felt a trip to Nicaragua wouldn’t be complete without going. And so I did. Feeling a little fragile after leaving the hostel, I got to the ferry and quickly met two wonderful wonderful people from the US, Kelleen and Justin - so full of life and fun and adventure - and we immediately became a team. They had a car and a vague idea about where to go and together we made plans to stay on the far side of the island near where the beaches were. Once established in Hostel Santa Cruz, and hot from the travel, we quickly made our way to Ojo de Agua, a beautiful lagoon of fresh, perfectly blue and clear water, to wile away the afternoon. We met up with two other travelling friends, Swiss-born Mona and Raffi, and played with a young local boy who was keen to show us how well he swum. Adorable.
Back later at the hostel, I bumped into Paul, a friend I met back in Tulum, and we all watched the sun go down over Volcun Concepcion - a gorgeous collection of reds and oranges and darkness and we sat drinking cervezas and rum out of a pineapple and talking about love, of course, and what we wanted to do with our lives. It was the perfect way to begin my adventure alone, because ultimately, you’re never really alone when you travel. But by myself, I can be lost and found as I wish.
The next morning, bright and early, we got up to hike Volcun Maderas, the smaller of the two volcanos. I made it halfway - two hours in - and then came back to write and relax. The others returned later and we all went out for dinner at Cafe Campestre in Balgue for some delicious veggie lasagna and ended the night playing ridiculous drinking games, led by Paul, which I lost most times. Ah, but so much fun.
The next day, my gorgeous new US friends left to go to San Juan del Sur and the remainder of us just chilled out for our last sunset overlooking the volcano and worked out our next moves. I’d been thinking to go straight down to Costa Rica but Mona and Raffi had spun such magical stories about Laguna de Apoyo so I decided to go there instead.
We all left by the local chicken bus - which had, indeed, chickens - to make our way back to the mainland and I left the crew to make my way up north to the laguna. And what a place: so still and calm and relaxing. I stayed at the Monkey Hut - one of the very best places I’ve stayed on this journey - I spent the afternoon swimming and the evening writing.
The next morning, set for a day of lagooning, I met Nemo - “that movie killed me,” he said. “Yeah,” I said, “the hurricane did the same for me” - and we spent the day together swimming and chatting about life - so funny and such great company . He’s Israeli and, when I told him about my parents visiting, he said, “Ah, your dad: does he wear shorts with long socks and a collared shirt and a big hat when he travels.” Yep, that’s my dad. “He’s Israeli! He sounds exactly like one of us.” Ah how I laughed.
Our only other dorm mate was a lovely Flemish PhD student, Frederic, who was working in Managua and had Nicaragua in his soul, invited us to join him and his friend Filemon - the manager of Monkey Hut - for some drinks. Over bottles of Flor de Cana, the “best rum in the world” and between playing the guitar, Frederic regaled us with stories about Nicaraguan politics and history and its music and Filomon, being the child of the one of the famous freedom fighters - El Zorro - talked about what it was like for his family and the book he’s starting to write about it. And then, from the Sandinista, to Israeli settlements, to London, to inappropriate jokes and what we were all doing with our lives, we hung out till the early hours and it remains one of my favourite nights in Central America.
The next day was emotional and I only moved from my hammock to swim and after that, having said goodbye to the awesome Nemo and Filomon, made my way to Grenada to prepare for my trip to Costa Rica. I didn’t really have a plan and was still in two minds about which direction to take but what a delightful position to be in.