Rhiannon and our new friends decided to stick together for a few more days and all go from San Juan del Sur to Ometepe, an island in Lake Nicaragua. After a bus ride to Rivas we grabbed a taxi ride to the dock. The driver wanted $C75 each. Ridiculous! Thanks to Oliver at hostel Elizabeth we knew the fair price was no more than $20 Cordobas each. Jess took the lead in negotiations and after emphatically saying “No!” (with her hands on her hip) to each price the driver gave, she agreed to $C25 ($1USD) each. We all agreed and off we went to the ferry. (We later ran into some fellow travelers who had paid the $C75 ($3 USD) each 😦 ).
Upon landing on Ometepe island we were greeted by hoards of locals offering taxis, hotels, hostels, food, you name it. One guy spoke fluent English and offered to take 2 of us by scooter to see his hostel. Rhi and Claire zoomed away. A short bit later we were all checked in. We planned to rent scooters to tour Ometepe because we had heard (while in San Juan del Sur) that you could rent them in Ometepe for as little as $15 USD per day (in San Juan it was $40 USD!) The owner said he could get us a good deal so we went with him. Turns out the rental place was owned by his dad, a grouchy man who want $25 and refused to even negotiate a price. We kept looking and found a deal. $15 per scooter and we only needed to leave one passport as security (not $100 USD like other places require). The next morning we showed up for a quicky lesson in a nearby field and then we were off! (Lucinda, you would be proud!)
If you go to Ometepe you need to rent a scooter! It was amazing! Despite almost getting run over by a chicken bus I loved it. Scootering in Ometepe is like playing one of those driving video games, just in real life. Everywhere you look potential obstacles presented themselves. Children, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, cows, adults, other motorists, dogs. It was nuts! I really wish I had a go-pro to capture the moments.
And the scenery! Ometepe is an island made of two volcanoes. Sadly I only took one picture of one while on land, but did get a few of the island when we left.
Our first stop was Ojo de Agua, a natural spring fed (but man made) pool. It wasn’t the natural attraction we were expecting. It looked like an oversized pool disguised as a lagoon. And everything was touristy and expensive. We continued on after only a short stay. (But I do love our group picture!)
For a cheaper lunch option than at Ojo de Agua we stopped at a little taco place, which was basically the home of a California expat and his Nicaraguan wife. The food was amazing! The hospitality even better. We could have spent hours chatting with them.
The highlight of our scooter day was definitely the monkeys! The lovely couple at the Taco Desnudo told us we could find white-faced monkeys off a trail about a mile down the road. When we found the spot, Cal zoomed back to a roadside stand and bought a bunch of, yep, you guessed it – bananas!
The monkeys were sitting at the end of a long driveway. Jeffrey started walking toward them, banana in hand, and suddenly they gang rushed her! She screamed, threw the banana wildly in their direction, and ran back to us. We were all in stitches! And now a wee bit afraid of the little dudes!
After the initial charge, a few of them approached more calmly and would take the bananas right from our hands. It made you want to cuddle them! (Except for those razor sharp teeth!)
Some were more shy.
One guy, though, he was cranky! He would come to the end of the wall, grab a banana piece, then leap back snorting and spitting at me! Every time!
Once, I went to hand him a banana piece, but he scared me and I dropped it. The look on his face – (stupid human!) – was priceless.
We eventually ran out of bananas and scootered on. We returned the scooters just as darkness overtook the island. When you go to Nicaragua, you simply must spend time on Ometepe Island.
Next stop…Costa Rica…another boarder crossing and a missed bus (despite the fact that we stood behind it for 30 minutes!). Stay tuned!
Audrey, Rhiannon, Cal, Jeffrey, Roger and Claire – scooter maniacs with a passion for monkeys!