Tag Archives: ometepe

Leaving Nicaragua

So there I was, waking up inside the crater of a 23,000 + year old volcano.

  
  I’d arrived the previous day to beautiful sunshine, and a pristine, blue lagoon.  The night brought with it a Nicaraguan style thunder storm, and although that caused me to lay awake listening to the clangs and thunderbolts from the moody sky above for much of the night, it also brought with it that calming sense of safety; of me laying in a big double bed with white linen and four pillows all to myself, as I listened to it pour down violently outside my window, feeling thankful for staying in a hotel rather than a dark and damp hostel.  
The little things in life make themselves clear at times like this; such as meeting a fellow traveler whom I can share a room with; otherwise I’d certainly still be sleeping in a hostel.

We had chosen a guesthouse called “Casa Aromansse”.  We’d researched online whilst still in Ometepe, for somewhere that wouldn’t give us a party,instead, somewhere that would offer us a nice and relaxed atmosphere; somewhere preferably with yoga lessons that we could participate in each morning, before spending the remainder of the day relaxing and doing our individual writing, studying, reading or work.

  
Unfortunately when I awoke that first morning, I was to find that there weren’t to be any yoga lessons for the duration of my stay, due to the owner being ill (maybe that was my fault for not calling beforehand) but he welcomed me to practice yoga myself on their platform.  
The platform was elevated to look over the lagoon, surrounded by big white drapes and the sounds of the wildlife making odd and interesting noises from the surrounding trees and bushes.  I took myself down there embed with my iPad and a yoga YouTube channels and whacked out my best downward dogs and trigangle poses ’til I felt my butt cheeks no thigh were sufficiently stretched in all the right places.

 
  

  

   

  

  

  

     
After two nights here, it was time to leave; my flight out of Nicaragua was ever impending, and after being scared off cities by the monstoursly loud and fear-inducing Managua, I felt I owed it to the country to try one more city, so I took a taxi to the city of Granada.

Before parting ways, Sarah recommended to me I stay at a hostel called La Libertad, in a central location.  I’d been informed that grandad was a “Gringo Town”.  Make of that wan at you will.  I myself, took that as an indication it would be somewhere I’d be less sexually harassed, verbally, maybe because they’re used to seeing more of us Gringos around?  I’m not sure.  However as soon as I dropped my bag at the hostel, and walked into the streets, I was experiencing it all over again.

I’m not being big headed.  This isn’t me saying that I’m the female equivalent to a guy in a Lynx advert; where men see me and drop everything before running over to me to lick my face and tell me they love me.  
No, I’m pretty confident in saying that any woman walking down the road without having a man next to her is pretty much going to be subjected to this behavior.  It’s disgusting, and it’s degrading, not to mention exhausting.
Trying to feel comfortable running all over the city to see the sights, but questioning if you need to walk a different direction because you see a large group of men and don’t want to be harassed really means a lot of extra foot work.
If this behavior was to result in just one positive aspect, however, it would have to be the moment I got shouted at: “HEY MAMI”, and in that moment right there, I felt like Jennifer bloody Lopez.  Not aesthetically of course, however I was in Latin America, and the guy did roughly resemble Pit Bull, so I enjoyed my moment whilst it lasted.

Moving on, I spent two fabulous days in Granada, doing the whole tourist side of things that my mother would be proud of.  I paid real life money (58p) to climb Iglesias de La Merced, which is a lovely old shoddy  church which doesn’t have a lot to offer (in my humble opinion) however it does offer a beautiful view of the main attraction in Granada, Catedral de Granada, (the yellow one in the pictures online), and also the rest of the city, including Mombacho Volcano.

   
   
  

There’s a lot of churches in the city of Granada, however the main reason people visit would have to be the architecture.   It was founded by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, back in 1524.  Now to be honest, I just read that from the internet, however I think you’ll agree, that sounds pretty European, hence looking a lot like Spain.
  

      

 

   
On my last morning there, I decided to walk down the main street that runs behind the main yellow cathedral, Calle La Calzada, and ended up on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.  

  
Here, I was greeted by a nice man named Luis, on a moped, who kindly took me to the part of the bay, about 3km away, where boats were waiting to take tourists to the Islets of Granada; a group of 365 small islands where, from what I could gather, very, very rich people had houses. 

  

I was told to clamber upon a little fibreglass boat with about 4 local teenage girls, who took more selfies than me (if you know me then that in itself is ridiculous) and with them screaming out excitedly in Spanish, asking questions to the boat driver, I sat back, and looked around, only wondering what kind of people lived on these islands.

   
    
 
After a lot of pointing at beautiful homes on tiny islands, the screaming suddenly accelerated tenfold when we approached one island, with no building or infrastructure on it whatsoever. 
I suddenly hear screams in Spanish, and the only familiar words I can make out are “Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson” repeatedly.  Pretty sure this guys dead, I suddenly have irrational thoughts of the King of Pop having not died, and instead sacked off the fortune and fame, instead deciding to retire to a small bushy island scattered around the Asese peninsula.  
Alas, no. Instead crawled out a little monkey resembling MJ’s long suffering household pet, Bubbles, who I’m pretty confident in saying was never owned by Michael Jackson himself.

  
After suffering, much like Bubbles, for a little longer, the boat returned to shore, and I made the walk back to town.

Granada was nice, however I’m fairly certain in saying that Nicaraguas main attributes have to be its beautiful coast lines, and volcanic getaways.  
It’s a simply magnificent country, and I am SO glad I was fortunate enough to visit.  
I’ve met some hilarious and fabulous people, at the same time as meeting people who reminded me why I love traveling alone (God I sound like a miserable bitch), but I wouldn’t change any of my experiences.  I whole heartedly recommend this part of the world to everyone, as long as you’re aware that you’ve got to keep your wits about you.  
You can’t relax as much as you can in other destinations, the chances of getting mugged or assaulted are rather high.  I’d personally recommended girls to travel with friends or partner, unlike me, who as much as I’ve loved it, I’d have felt much safer with someone having my back.  
Saying that, I was fortunate enough to not encounter any real trouble, but did have to be careful with certain situations, which I’d have much preferred to not have.  I felt it was a place that pushed and tried my morals and views as an alone, independent woman, and indeed feminist.  
Things that were said, and ways in which I was sometimes treated, made me want to lose it; rant about how unacceptable and disgusting it is to be treated in such a way, or to be made to feel a certain way, however instead I’d find myself having to bite my tongue and breathe calmly, acknowledging that me sticking up for myself was going to land me in a lot more shite.  Example; some man gropes my bottom in London, he’s going to get shouted at and dressed down in public, however Nicaragua when I’m alone?  Absolutely not.  Instead my head drops down, and I shuffle away from the situation, embarrassed and angry, and that’s what I hated more than anything.

Saying that, I do hope to return one day.
  I’ve certainly ended this leg of my trip in a far better way than when I started it.  I’ve practiced yoga nearly every day, I’ve drank barely any alcohol, and I’ve appreciated my luck and self worth in a way that I certainly wasn’t before leaving the UK.

I now sit here in Houston Airport awaiting my flight to Denpasar, Bali, where I’m due to embark upon a yoga retreat.  I’m sure this whole healthy living thing will loosen up a bit soon, having been to Bali in March this year, I know what kind of debauhery it can bring out in a person.   However, saying that, I will endeavour to keep it up as much as I can. My bottom’s a little less wobbly, and I must say, I’m starting to like what I see. 
  
  
 

In and around a load of Volcanoes

As the name of my blog would suggest, I literally just do not know how to sit still and relax.  Every time I rest my backpack down and my feet up, I’m thinking about whether or not I’ve made the right decision; whether or not I should be exploring a different place; whether or not the place I am currently at is going to offer me what I’m trying to gain from being away in which ever corner of the world I find myself.

This time was no different.  I arrived in Popoyo, and thought “shit”.  Not because it lacked beauty, but because I guess if I’m being completely honest, there was nothing there.  Nothing to distract my overcreative and overreactive brain from itself.  I realised that it was going to be me, my brain, and not much else for the duration of my stay.  Yes, I’ve been traveling alone since day one, however there’s always been people there to me, to talk with and to keep myself busy.  Now I was in a place where it was just my thoughts and I.

So instantly the negative thoughts began, and I was already planning to go somewhere else.  I thought Gigante was quiet, but Popoyo was another level.  It’s worth pointing out that it is currently low season at the moment in Nicaragua, and that other times it may well be busier, however for now it was just myself and another couple, who seemed to want to keep themselves to themselves, staying at the basic but pleasant, Sunset Villas.
I went to my dorm, where I was the only one, and took a nap, before waking up to eat my freshly caught fish, and watch the most incredible sunset over a vastly empty and beautiful beach.  I took this in, and had a word with myself in that moment.  A word with myself about how it’s time to learn to switch off.  Time to learn to live in the moment.  Time to learn it’s ok just to not plan my next movements for the following 24 hours, and time to give that overactive, overthinking brain of mine a bit of a holiday.

  
Im so glad I made that decision, as I spent three nights being able to sort of touch base with myself again.  A huge reason for me getting away was to continue my studies online in aromatherapy, and during my trip to Popyo, I picked up my pen and papers for the first time since being away and did just that.  I’d take my breaks sunbathing, before coming back in to the sheltered area, sitting underneath structures, thatched with palm leaves, and read and write whilst listening to the waves crash down just meters from where I sat.

   
   
I’d wake up early before the sun was too strong, and managed to do a personal first; running on the beach.  Everytime I’d been walking on the beach, my feet would sink so far into the sand, it was a struggle in itself to get from A to B slowly, never mind running.  However, I’d seen a change in myself since being away, and having this as an incentive to spur me on further, I forced myself to get up and run.  And I tell you; it wasn’t even THAT bad.  I didn’t last for ages, but I got myself out of bed and did it, which was an achievement in itself.
On the Monday, I saw there was a yoga class along the beach, at a place called (appropriately enough) Popoyo Yoga.  I went along and attended the 09.30AM class, feeling much more comfortable in a Downward Dog, than the whole running thing.

It was myself and two other Western women in the class, one of which being the instructor.  I’ve practiced yoga all over the world, in all places and with all sorts of people.  The place where I’ve practiced most has been the UK, so I kind of felt that was the most likely place I’d encounter stereotypical white girl yogis.  No, no.  This tiny little beach of Popoyo, on a random stretch of coastline on the West side of Nicaragua was where I experienced my biggest and most cringe worthy white girl moment to date.
Eyes closed, beginning of yoga practice.  In a medatative position; hands rested on knees, palms facing upwards to receive.  It was Canadain Thanksgiving.  We were instructed, in soothing tones, to dedicate this practice to something we are thankful for.  To give praise and thanks to something that brings us joy and happiness.  I let my mind wander; thinking about the things I’m thankful for. To be lucky enough to be in Nicaragua? To have a boyfriend who I literally think is bloody beautiful? That I’m happy and healthy and blessed with a good life? As I drift off my attention comes back to the instructor’s soft and spiritual voice, and if I’m not mistaken, uttering the words “For me, I am thankful to Starbucks for their Chai Tea Latte.  And I look forward to having this again when I return to Canada”.  And in this very moment, right there, eyes closed, pretending to meditate, inhaling wafts of sea breeze and incense, I acknowledge that it doesn’t matter if I’m practicing yoga in Nicaragua or Clapham High Street.  I’m embarrassingly white girl, and always will be.

   

   

After my time here, I felt that I’d relaxed my body and mind enough to be ready for the next stage of my journey, so I got a cheap taxi to take me from Popoyo to the port of San Jorge, where I caught a ferry to the island of Ometepe.

  

Ometepe is an island that is formed of two volcanoes; Conception (1,610 M) and Maderas (1,394 M), in Lake Nicaragua, and about a 1 hour ferry ride from San Jorge.  

  
The volcanoes, especially Conception, loom over the surrounding areas of Rivas and Tola, constantly surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke.  The volcanoes are still considered to be very active, and as recently as 2010 there was an extremely violent eruption, resulting in an order from the Nicaraguan Government to evacuate the island.  However, very few residents listened to this order, instead deciding to stay.  This may be due to the fact that the volcanic ash makes the soil of the island extremely fertile, and with a huge part of the islands economy being based in agriculture and livestock, you can see why people wanted to stay.

  

It is clear as soon as you step onto Ometepe that the rich soil is unlike most, purely based on the flora that’s flourishing from any direction you turn.  I can honestly say I’ve never seen such amazing colours; bright greens and intense blues, pinks and reds of the flowers.  Even if you’re not big on hiking volcanoes and long walks (which is what many visit the island for) just to come and observe your immediate surroundings is worth the rickety ferry ride and endless bugs and mosquitoes alone.

I stayed at a hostel recommended to me, called Little Morgan’s.  It was situated in the small town of Santa Cruz (a lot smaller than the Santa Cruz I’d previously visited in California) and down a steep driveway running through a couple of fields.  I checked in, took note of the fact that I was in the jungle, staying in a building made entirely of wood (which was an extremely impressive piece of architecture) and that in hot season (thank God it’s currently rainy season, even though it barely rains) you can easily see up to 50 tarantulas here a week.  I laid my head down, flicked two cockroaches from my pillow, and slept.

   
 
I got up at 6am the following to day to walk to a hostel up the side of the smaller volcano to participate in the 7AM yoga class.  By the time I reached the yoga platform, in the middle of the jungle, my thighs were on fire and my bum cheeks felt an intense sensation of sore, having not known such movement for a good  few years.  I did a yoga lesson, funnily enough, with the ex lover of Xian, from the Yogic Ashram I stayed in, and the farther of her two boys.  To cut things short, he was pretty much as out of his tree as the people at the Ashram who were making digeridoos out of bamboo.  He started telling me how my star sign aligned with his and I was the sun to his moon, meaning we were a match.  Sensing his tantric lines that he undoubtebly uses on all of the girls, and thinking I much prefer my nice fella who doesn’t choose to wear a scrunchy and feathers in his hair, I smiled and continued the yoga practice, thinking I’d choose to channel my yogic energy to a Starbucks latte rather than someone who feels that lines from Game of Thrones are going to wash as spiritual karmic rubbish.

  
I spent the next day taking in the scenery and really appreciating that this was probably one of the most beautiful places I had ever been in my life.

   
 
   
 
   
    
    
    
    
   

After another night in the beautiful hostel, myself and another girl I’d met, Sarah, caught the 11AM ferry back to San Jorge, where we shared a taxi to a place called Laguna Apoyo. 
 I knew I’d wanted to visit, having been sat down on the toilet somewhere having a wee, only to look up at the back of the bathroom door to see the words graffitied “Visit Laguna Apoyo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️”.  

“Well,” I’d thought to myself.  “Amongst all the declarations of love etched onto the door, and numbers to call for good times guaranteed, someone’s gone out of their way to leave a five star review.  I’d better check it out.”
So I now find myself sat in the sunshine writing this, having had a deep and peaceful nights sleep on the edge of yet another volcano (this time on the inside)  this one having had erupted around 23,000 years ago, forming a crator in which sits a lagoon, 200 metres deep, and surrounded by the tall green hills of the former volcano.  I thought I was purely a beach bum, however I’m getting increasingly sold on the idea of volcanoes.