As I mentioned before, we left Granada for Isla de Ometepe with the intention of staying two (maybe three) nights there, and then heading to the beaches of San Juan del Sur. We stayed for six. Our first stop was Merida, a retreat right on the waterfront.
Ometepe is an island in Lake Nicaragua that is largely comprised of two large volcanoes. It’s currently a bit challenging to get to, which means most of the towns on the island are quite rural and remote. But things are changing – within the last six months they’ve built the first bank on the island, and they are currently building an airport that will service one hour direct flights from Managua. (By comparison, we took a 2 hour bus ride, 15 min taxi, 1 hour ferry, and another 2.5 hour bus ride to get to Merida.) While the airport will undoubtedly make it easier for tourists to reach the island and boost the local economy, whether or not the charm the tourists visit Ometepe to see will still remain intact or not is yet to be seen.
On our first day in Merida, we sought adventure. Since I’m not much of a hiker, we skipped the 8 hour round trip treks up the volcanoes in favor of horseback riding up to Cascada de San Ramon, a 35 foot waterfall on the side of Volcan Maderas. It was both of our first time riding horses, and I must say I felt sorry for the poor winded horse for having to cart my lazy butt up the hills. The last 20 minutes of the trail are too steep for them to climb, so we hiked it ourselves while they took a (much needed) breather.
The falls are quite high and give off an impressive breeze, but we were slightly disappointment that there wasn’t enough water at the base of the waterfall for us to take a dip.Later in the week, we took a boat ride to River Istian (or the swamp, as the locals call it.)If the weather is nice, and you’re a little lucky, you can see several types of birds, monkeys, and cayman here. We saw a few different birds and a turtle, but no one else was out that afternoon.The trees are still quite striking, though, growing straight out of the water. Without the howler monkeys around, its eerily calm and peaceful here.
The other three days spent in Merida were more relaxing. John got a bit of work done (before the internet blew out), but for the most part we spent our time doing yoga and meditating on the deck, writing, chatting and reading books in our huge hammock for two with a view of the lake.
In the early evenings, we’d take a swim in the freshwater lake while watching the spectacular sunsets.
Jump off this dock (yes, that is a rainbow)……and float in the warm lake water while watching these beautiful colors. (Yes, that’s John’s head bobbing around.)
In all honesty, I vacillated between incredibly relaxed and happy and a bit hungry and cranky during our stay in Merida. (With the exception of breakfast, the food where we stayed wasn’t excellent for me and there are only two restaurants in Merida. I get cranky when I’m not well fed.) John spent the entire stay blissing his brains out, often just looking at me with a huge grin on his face.
I had no need to ask what the grin was for, as the sentiment was pretty obvious: Life is good.