Sunset on Ometepe Island

Violence has been Nicaragua’s most important export to the world.

After a full day of toiling to get my phone case off, which was successful Thursday morning (finally), it turns out the SIM card is just behind the volume adjustments on my phone.  Figures.  Anyways, I bought a new SIM card, added some minutes, and I now have a working Nicaraguan phone number. That actually took most of my day.  Between that, work, and finding a place to stay for the night, there wasn’t much else to do.  I settled on The Bearded Monkey hostel because it was off the main road a couple streets, had a big common area, and the WiFi was pretty good. My Friday morning calls went well.  No loud noises, the phone worked, and my presentation was a success.  Yay!  It was stressing me out.  Now I can relax. Actually, no.  After a little more work, I opted to get the more authentic experience and take the bus to San Juan Del Sur rather than taking the $18 shuttle.  $2.10, 3 hours, and 2 buses (old yellow school buses, to be exact) later, I arrived in San Juan Del Sur. I would have taken a picture of the crazy Nicaraguan markets and the crowded bus with people selling snacks and drinks, but I didn’t want to appear whiter than I already was. San Juan Del Sur is more touristy, but I’m totally fine with that.  Lots of surf shops and bars.  I decided to stop at El Timon, a bar on the beach, have a couple beers ($2 for 2 beers happy hour!), and watch the sun set.  Here is said sun (or the recent absence of it):

San Juan Del Sur beach
Knock out a long walk on the beach and the sunset all at once.

On Saturday, I grabbed a shuttle over to Maderas Beach, the main surfing beach here in San Juan del Sur.  Or close to it, at least.  Surfing doesn’t interest me terribly, but it was interesting to watch.  I mainly just read on the beach, walked around the water a bit, and hid from the sun at the restaurants/bars.

Surfing on Madera Beach
Next to Maderas Beach

Sunday morning I got up and decided I had had enough of San Juan del Sur, so I left (I also left my travel towel, which makes me very sad).  Bus to Rivas, taxi to San Jorge, and then a ferry to Ometepe Island.  I didn’t have any plan or reservations, but some guy at the ferry told me to skip Moyagulpa (the port) and just get transportation to Santa Cruz.

Ometepe Volcanoes
View of Volcanos

I met more people on the ferry, and we all split a van for the 45 minute ride.  The first hostel we looked at looked like a hippy asylum where people just sort of lived, like some kind of Woodstock tailgate.  The second one was a bit better, but sadly no WiFi.  We decided to go for it anyways, as it was recommended as the more active of the hostels around.

Hostel in Santa Cruz
Fruit Fly netting

Sunday night we just went to a local restaurant then had a couple beers at the hostel bar before going to bed.  Paul and I decided to get up in the morning and climb the Volcano. Volcano Concepción is like 1600m high, and the hike took us 6 hours.  We gathered at the hostel at 5am – Paul, me, a german couple, another German guy, and our guide.  At 6am, we were walking up the mountain.  Our guide was awesome and gave me some shoes to wear, as well as a more legit backpack to take up. About 1/3 the way up, my stomach started feeling terrible.  Suddenly I was low on energy, and I started to trail behind the group.  I don’t know if it was food poisoning or the after-effects of eating meat, but something was seriously wrong with my digestive system.  Axel had brought TP, which he kindly gifted me, then I told them to go ahead and I would try to follow. Let’s just say I made use of it a little more than halfway up the volcano, and I also puked a couple times.  So check that off the bucket list.  After defiling the volcano, I still felt crappy but continued to trudge on, by myself, up this stupid collection of rocks.  At one point I remember looking around a field of rocks in the middle of a misty cloud and considered curling up and just dying for about the 5th time on the hike.  But, eventually, I made it.

Top of Concepcion
Stupid Paul

My perseverance can most likely be attributed to the fact that I’m reading Unbroken.  Maybe Lauren Hildebrandt can write an inspiring story about my hike up that volcano.

And after I made it to the top, I felt a ton better.  I drank all my water to replenish some liquids, and the trip down was more or less a breeze (although it still took a couple hours).  Here are some general pictures from the hike:

Volcano Concepción
It was cloudy so I had to take some pictures on the way up.
Picture 7 Volcano Concepción
This is another view of the ground and Lake Nicaragua
Volcano Concepción
That is our guide, rocking a headband.
Volcano Concepción
Rocks near the top where I planned on dying.
Volcano Concepción
Lovely view of clouds and mist from the top.
Volcano Concepción
Our first rest stop going up and the heads of 3 Germans.

Monday night we hung out in the “treehouse” and passed around a couple bottles of Flor de Cana rum.

Treehouse on Ometepe Island
Swiss Family Robinson

Here is the sunset from the treehouse.

Sunset on Ometepe Island
Sunset and that thing we climbed.

Tuesday I switched hostels to one with a nice restaurant and WiFi – just called Santa Cruz Hostel & Restaurant. They were out of dorms, so I got a private room, which is costing me $30.  Pretty expensive for Nicaragua, but it has AC, a real bed, and a private shower/bathroom.  Like, a normal hotel I guess (minus hot water, plus spiders).  Here’s the view from the doorway of my room.

Santa Cruz hostel on Ometepe
There are worst places to work from.

Ran into Charlotte and Yonda in the afternoon after they hiked Conception, then we joined the rest of the crew (10 people or so) and went to pizza night at a different hostel. It was good, plus they had these people doing fire dances and hula fire dances and stuff. Weird, but cool. We were all exhausted so I was in my bed at 10.

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