the nicaraguan chronicles – part 4


Awakened by the sibilant sounds of barking dogs, crowing roosters and howling monkeys is the only real way to do it in this country. Five a.m., on the dot, and the notorious howling monkeys reveal themselves, having invaded our alcohol-induced slumber with their insanely loud wake-up calls. Soft chuckles as we marvel at their brazenness. Well done, monkeys.

Hot, muggy, and a bevy of animal sounds seems to be the most organic way to greet a Nicaraguan sunrise. Shaking out our damp towels to unlatch any spiders or scorpions who did some latching in the night (there were none), we headed back up to the common area to close our tabs, grab some breakfast and bid adieu to the owners. We were sad to say goodbye to Chad, Rob and the de-virginized big red pole, but we had other places to see, volcanoes to explore and gringos to meet. I will say, though, that it’s hard to say goodbye to a hostel that, in the common area, bears this sign:

fuck more, bitch less

the nicaraguan chronicles – part 4
the road to ometepe

The hike back to the road was pretty similar to the hike in the opposite direction, except down. I prefer the climb. But, as the Buddhists preach, everything in moderation. So down we tumbled, bumbled, stumbled and grumbled, gazing at the sights as we emerged from the jungle.

It was a short walk to the bus stop a little ways down the main road, and a long drive to Rivas, the city that held our port that held our ferry that held our ticket to Ometepe Island, the next stop in our Nicaraguan adventure. The bus took us through lush farmland filled with fields of sugar cane and rice paddies. Sadly, however, our bus ride was not accompanied with a chicken this time around.

As we emerged from the bus we were set upon by a plethora of cabbies repeating “Taxi. Taxi.” over and over. Before we grabbed a cab, K, M and I wanted to grab some delicious street snacks. Everywhere we went in Nicaragua had streets lined with stalls filled with foodstuffs. Fried chicken, cheese and mystery ingredients wrapped in flour tortillas made up the majority of the offerings, intermingled with pastries and cookies. Everything smelled amazing and we still had a few hours before we made it to our hostel, so the three of us grabbed a quick bite. Fried chicken, I think it was, wrapped in a fried tortilla with a side of cabbage covered in hot sauce. A-mazing. Coupled with jugo de naranja, orange juice that is more like an orange Hi-C, but better, this made for an amazing quick fix to my hunger situation. This also happened to be my first encounter with water of questionable integrity. M warned me that the orange drink was made with water that may not be safe to drink, but I downed it in the first few minutes of the cab ride. To date, no ill effects.

Interesting sidenote: all the water and juice they sold on the street was sold in little plastic baggies, like sandwich bags, that you could either sip from a straw or squeeze directly from the bag. When it’s done, ya toss it on the side of the road like a normal Nicaraguan and go about your business.

el zopilote


Ferry to Ometepe - that's K, with the volcano Concepcion in the background

After a 1.5-hr uneventful ferry ride, and a 1-hr cab ride along pit-filled roads that did nothing for anybody’s hangovers, we made it to our next hostel – El Zopilote.

At this point I figured it was time for a shower. After four hours of traveling and two days of sweat and B.O. buildup, I definitely needed one. And there’s only one way to shower while hostel-jumping in Nicaragua: in freezing cold water. The entire two-and-a-half minutes I showered in the frigid water, I just kept telling myself “Don’t look down, don’t look down,” lest my pride and confidence be shattered completely.

Part of Zopilote

El Zopilote rests in a verdant part of Ometepe. Beautiful.

We settled down in our thatch-roofed hut complete with three bunks, a double bed and a hammock housing a quiet El Salvadorian. The hostel didn’t have any electricity, so we made sure to get situated in the daylight. And I made extra sure to lock up my bag – thanks to C’s lock, no more violations of my personal property occurred.

We were going to have to cook our own meals here, so we picked up a loaf of hard bread (one of those cool, old-school-looking round ones), spaghetti noodles and sauce for dinner, and then some eggs for breakfast. Cooking by candlelight in a crowded kitchen with other hostel-jumpers was a neat experience, and M whipped us up a delicious dinner we ate in the near darkness of the hostel’s common area.

This was our first night sans alcohol, which was strange to us, but it provided a much-needed respite from the nonstop moving and beverage imbibing we’d been doing for the past few days. So, once again, M, C, A and I engaged in another vicious round of euchre while K settled in with a book, both activities made possible via the efficient use of head lamps.

rain, rain, go away

That evening we discovered why they call the rainforest the rainforest. Cuz it rains. Hard.

Thanks, Ollie.

It rained off and on all night, switching between intense downpours and periods of resounding silence broken only by the sounds of laser frogs – the wacky amphibians actually sound like lasers! It was awesome.

As we laid down to bed, with visions, not of sugarplums, but of volcano-climbing dancing in our heads, we were a little worried Mother Nature would say “Screw you guys” and continue her downpour the following morning when we were scheduled to leave for a hike up a volcano. And as the rogue rain drop crawled through the thatch above to land unceremoniously on my chest, I did my best  not to worry and just sleep through the night.

Mission: unsuccessful.


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3 Responses to “the nicaraguan chronicles – part 4”

  1. Anastasia Pronin Says:

    You missed the part about how the van we took started emitting steaming hot water out of an open gasket, soaking all of our luggage.

    And how that pasta was the best thing we ever tasted.

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