the nicaraguan chronicles – part 6

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Sitting in the common area of Little Morgan’s, the five of us look dejectedly at one another. Lifeless gazes. Rushed breakfast. Some of us nursing hangovers, C still feeling sick. It’s 6 a.m. when the cab pulls up, and we’re tired of traveling. We haven’t stayed in a single place more than one night this whole trip and it’s catching up to us now. We recognized our error in planning a few days earlier but hoped it wouldn’t affect us like it was.

We close our tabs and check our packs to make sure we have what we need and the essentials are easily accessible. Cab driver gets out of the car and we exchange looks layered with meaning: 1.) are you ready to go? and 2.) do you really want to go? Soft laughter as we realize we’re all thinking the same thing.

Finally, A speaks up first, the most courageous of us: “Guys, let’s just not go. Let’s stay here.” I laugh, thanking whatever god, Bodhisattva or flap of a butterfly’s wings empowered her to say it first. “Yeah, let’s stay.”

We re-open our tabs, unpack our packs and settle in, all smiles.

the nicaraguan chronicles – part 6
extended stay

M, A, K and I relaxed in the common area, awaiting yet another cab to come pick us up to take us to the San Ramon waterfall, an hour’s drive to another part of the island housing a national park, which in turn housed a supposedly gorgeous 500-foot waterfall. We chatted excitedly about the trip, getting mental previews of it from Shannon and Joe, the dudes we befriended the night before. We had also made a new friend later in the night whom we all immediately took to – Bennett, who would be joining the four of us in our adventure to the waterfall.

C, unfortunately, was still not feeling well and ventured back to her bunk to try and sleep off whatever ailment had struck her the day before. Also, something I haven’t mentioned up to this point: it was our last day w/ K! While the rest of us single-serving travelers were nearing the end of our out-of-States experience, K was just getting started. This fine young lady was embarking on a six-month journey throughout Central and South America and was going to be branching off from us the following morning to head down to Costa Rica. So we were happy to be spending that day with her at Little Morgan’s instead of in transit to yet another Nicaraguan hostel.

chasing waterfalls

As much as I love the song, I’ve never understood TLC’s Waterfalls, where the trio advises listeners to, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.” In the context of the song I guess it, in a way, makes sense. But when someone tells you to stick to what’s comfortable, don’t take any risks…well if I listened to that advice I wouldn’t be in Nicaragua, I would still be working a 9-5 white collar job, and I wouldn’t have been able to marvel at the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen: the San Ramon waterfall on Ometepe Island.

At 8 a.m., we hopped in a minivan to take us to San Ramon, bouncing and jouncing once again over the awful unpaved roads inherent to the island. At one point, Bennett, K and I had to get out to push the van out of a ditch, where I may or may not have accidentally broken the covering on the taillight. Whoops. “Well,” I tell myself, “it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.”

Wish I would have had that thought my first day in the country when I lost $180.

Entrance to the park

We arrived at the park and were immediately greeted with all the beauty Nicaragua has to offer. Low-lying clouds moving swiftly over not-so-distant mountains, birds dipping and climbing all around us, riding the warm thermals up to perch on trees and electrical poles, a slight spattering of rain drops. It hasn’t stopped raining on and off for three days, but right now we’re not bothered by it. This place is gorgeous, and we’re not even close to the waterfall yet.

We began the three-kilometer trek uphill to our destination, chatting idly along the way, learning about Bennett and where he comes from and where he’s going. The hike’s more consistently steeper than what we expected, but no one complains and we head deeper into the sprawling wilderness, me keeping a vigilant eye out for murderous spiders, treacherous scorpions and the cantankerous coral snakes.

the san ramon waterfall

hiking rock-strewn trails

Bennett on the march

The Nicaraguan waterfall was our destination, the rock-strewn path our journey. About a third of the way there some of our hangovers really started to kick in and the going got slow. Up we climbed, hands on knees we rested, this was our only legitimate hike in the country and the scenery was simply incredible. After roughly an hour and a half we caught our first glimpse of the waterfall.

Our pace quickened.

san ramon waterfall

See it?

The San Ramon waterfall is 56 meters high (approximately 184 feet) and cascades at a near straight drop from top to bottom. Simply put: gorgeous.

San Ramon Waterfall

That's me!

I felt like a little kid, gazing at this masterpiece of nature (a bit melodramatic, but you don’t understand – I. Love. Waterfalls.) I could have sat and stared at this waterfall for hours. There was just such a positive energy about the place. I knew that if I was ever to come back to Nicaragua, this would be one of the places I revisited.

The waterfall empties into a waist-deep pool at its base, allowing us to make our way out to stand beneath the downpour. It was exhilarating and Bennett and I couldn’t help smiling and laughing when a strong wave of water would threaten to push us down into the pool. It stings a little, when water falls in torrents from 184 feet onto your shoulders and back, but it was worth every single spec of pain.

relaxation

Every touristy trip needs a little R&R from time to time, and after returning from the San Ramon waterfall via another hour-long cab ride along bumpy roads, it was chill time for this Cleveland boy.

M, K, Shannon, Joe and Bennett headed to a natural spring a little ways down the road, while A, C (having thankfully slept off her sickness) and I hung out in the common area, just talking, reading, hanging out with the hostel owner’s 4-year-old son – the little Morgan – and drinking Coke (mainly for all of its health benefits). A relaxing afternoon doing a whole lot of nothing was exactly what we needed.

beef – it’s what’s for dinner

Upon their return, Shannon and Joe recommended a neat little restaurant down the road we could head to for dinner. It ended up being literally the front porch of a house, but it was a very cool feel and the eight of us (M, A, C, K, me, Shannon, Joe, Bennett) settled in for a few beers and nice dinner.

One thing we learned about Nicaragua: don’t have expectations when it comes to the food service industry. All throughout the trip it seemed like (from a Western perspective), we were treated with a sense of mild neglect. The server would get our drinks, take our order, then we wouldn’t see them again until our food came out. And then we wouldn’t see them again until we asked for our bill. Proactive is the name of the game when it comes to enjoying a dining experience here, and this restaurant was no different. After waiting more than an hour for our food to arrive, which wasn’t bad thanks to the pleasant company, we enjoyed our dinner of either chicken, beef or breakfast food (eggs and the now-famous gallo pinto).

Five of us ordered the beef. One of us got sick. Yep – this guy.

Less than two hours after dinner my stomach decided it wanted to be an Olympic gymnast for the next 12 hours. Somersaults, twists, turns – nothing was out of line for what this beef did to my internal organs. Once we arrived back at the hostel I headed straight to my bed and did my best to get some sleep, hoping my stomach would be better come morning, but I ended up spending a solid amount of time glued to the toilet at the other end of the hostel.

Didn’t have regular bowel movements for eight days. Yeah . . . how’s that for TMI?

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