Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ometepe; paradise on Earth

This photo tells you most of what you need to know about Isla de Ometepe. We have never been to a place better suited to doing nothing.

Sitting in the middle of the enormous Lake Nicaragua, two volcanoes form a figure-of-eight shaped island which is revered as a special place by Nicaraguans. Its existence is actually the reason that the early indigenous peoples inhabited what is now Nicaragua, on the strength of a prophecy that they would settle in a place where they found a lake around two volcanoes. A small isthmus joins Volcán La Concepción to the smaller Volcán Maderas, and we stayed on the western edge of the latter where the slope meets the lake. The whole island is pretty much stunning wherever you look. From our hostel, one volcano loomed behind while the other looked magnificent whether bathed in dusk sunlight or shrouded in fluffy white cloud.

That´s not to say that we were completely lazy. One of the best things to do is to kayak around the lake.

You can see what I mean about the volcano. There really isn´t anywhere to look that´s not beautiful. Heading inland up the river gets tricky though, where some rather thawny trees make it hard to get around. Your scratched arms are rewarded though, with a view of one volcano on each side.

We also took a (rather long and strenuous) walk up to a waterfall. The reward for that was a dip in the icy water and some water from a man who had a handy water-purifying pump.

Rach ´enjoyed´ the water standing under the cascade. I just paddled in the pool.

There are hundreds of beautiful butterflies on the island. We don´t know the names of any except the incredible Menelaus Blue Morpho. This may be a type of Morpho, but it isn´t as dramatic as the Menelaus, which we often see flying by while walking.

The people of the island are very friendly, partly a result of the fact that the civil war never reached Ometepe. The children especially are very inquisitive (read cheeky!).

It´s not just butterflies on Ometepe. Late one night as we were relaxing with a few beers Rach spotted this female Elephant Beetle trying to get into our room. I should point out that the hands of Lee, the American guy who was brave enough to pick her up and was able to identify her, are pretty huge. The beetle herself was about 5 inches long! I didn´t have a 50 pence piece to hand to show the scale, unfortunately.

Ultimately, the best thing to do on the island is watch the sunset. We were treated to spectacular displays each night, perfect for a swim in the lake followed by a few pre-dinner beers. Bliss...

This guy puts it pretty well. It doesn´t look like much has changed since 1867:

"Out of the midst of the beautiful Lake Nicaragua spring two magnificent pyramids, clad in the softest and richest green, all flecked with shadow and sunshine, whose summits pierce the billowy clouds. They look so isolated from the world and its turmoil - so tranquil, so dreamy, so steeped in slumber and eternal repose."
Mark Twain



kavvy17 said...

oh my god! the size of that beetle! imagine that crawling over your face while your
more great pics rob, the views your seeing must be breath taking.
where will you be and christmas?
just so you know its freezing cold here!!
mark x

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous place and that butterfly...............
How long are you staying there? Mary x

Rob Parle & Rachel Smith said...

Hola Nivia,
Gracias por las noticias. Estuvimos muy triste cuando salimos Boquete, pero nos gusta Nicaragua tambien. Saludos a la familia Bell-Miranda y esperamos que todos estan bien.
Rachel y Rob x