Naturally, after two weeks in Granada we missed island life so much, we found an island and headed there to explore for a week.
We hired a van to take us from Granada to San Jorge, a quick two hour ride, and the van dumped us off at the ferry “terminal” at 11am. (I use the word terminal loosely.)
When we arrived, we sat in a building with a little shop that was filled with gringos. We thought with smug satisfaction that we must be at the right place.
And we were.
But we could not determine, for the life of us, when the ferry was going to depart. Every single person had a different answer when we asked. As an islander, I can complain about the ferries with the best of them. I can whine on and on about the scheduling and how inconvenient it is for us. But there is a schedule.
Maybe there is a schedule that only the Nicaraguans can understand. But finally a boat pulled up. And we hoped to God that we would not be going on that one.
This is not the boat that pulled up. The boat that pulled us did not have the capacity for vehicles. Half of the gringos gathered their stuff and headed down to the boat to try to board.
By this time, we had been waiting for a couple hours in a ferry terminal, with bored and cranky children and limited snack supplies. It was tempting to grab our bags and jump on the ferry. But a little voice told us to wait.
So we waited.
An hour later, another ferry was ready to depart and this one looked a little more sturdy. The waves, which looked quite rowdy by mid-day, were less threatening now so we shuffled our stuff down to the dock and tried to board the slightly larger ferry.
Successful, we stationed ourselves in front of the bano in case any of our party had to be suddenly seasick. Yeah, we weren’t joking. This lake was rough!
Soon we saw Ometepe Island rising up to meet us. Ometepe has two volcanoes that jut out of the lake, forming a beautiful sillouette against a jungle horizon. The kids were delighted that, just like the moon, the volcanoes followed us wherever we went.
We arrived at the dock on Ometepe an hour and a bit after departing San Jorge. A quick taxi ride landed us at Hospedaje Soma.
Hostel Soma was absolutely lovely. If you need a recommendation on a place to stay in Ometepe, Hostel Soma is my first choice. It is located in the small town of Moyogalpa, right where the ferry comes in. It is a 5-10 minute walk from town. There is a local dog to greet you, (Tricky, we still miss you) and fantastic friendly reception staff. Most of the units have a hammock and a front deck area.
Inside, the rooms are simple and clean. Only two of the units have hot water but it is quite humid there so showering in cold water is quite refreshing.
There is a fridge in the common dining area where you can help yourself to bottled water, cold beer or juice anytime. Then your drinks are marked on a tab you have and you pay for everything at the end of your stay.
Granada felt fairly safe though every doorway had metal gates. Every wall was topped with barbed wire, and the banks were punctuated by an armed guard. Everyone was friendly and greeted you as you walked by. In Ometepe, the metal gates were gone. The barbed wire, absent. There were still armed guards at the banks but you barely noticed them because they were reclined on chairs, chomping on fried plantains.
One morning, I went for a run as the sun started to rise. I found myself with a rooster as a running companion. I greeted the wild horses, grazing in the ditch. I ran in the shadow of Vulcan Conception. And a pig on a long rope, snuffled at me as I jogged past.
Ometepe may have required some guesswork and patience to get to but soon I found myself swinging in a hammock at Hostel Soma, I knew, island life was still the life for me.