It’s time to leave Ometepe. Contrary to my sentiment when leaving San Juan Del Sur, I am sad to go today. There’s a ton of things to do here and it’s filled with so much natural beauty that I’m sure I could have spent my entire trip here and been content. Mike and Tyler (pals from Manitoba) have decided to come with me, Taylor, and Alex (pals from Toronto) back to Managua. Ilona has to go back to San Juan Del Sur to start her job, so we all meet for breakfast and head for the ferry together.
It is, hands down, the sketchiest boat ever. On our way here we had a much bigger ferry, and while it was still a choppy ride that made me pretty queasy, I now know that I took it for granted. This is going to be awful. Our new boat is wooden and has holes all over the place. I don’t know much about boats and obviously it wouldn’t exist if it couldn’t handle the waves, but it’s hard to believe by looking at it, that we’ll make it through an hour and a half ride. We almost don’t. I swear…the amount of times I was convinced we were about to capsize…
My life flashed before my eyes.
On the other side, on dry land, where I’ve never been happier to be, Alex and Taylor have their car. It’s luxury. It has aircon!! That’s huge. 5 of us get to ride inside and Mike rides in the back with the bags. We drive Ilona to the chicken bus terminal and say our goodbyes. I always hate goodbyes; especially when it’s me who’s going home to the conventional world and she who is going to live in a beach town for the next x amount of months. It’s like…I’ll miss you, but I also hate you. <3
Now it’s just the five of us and here I am. On a little road trip in Nicaragua with four 30 year old men.
Yesterday, I told them that I know how to drive stick, and they agreed to let me drive for a bit, but after watching Alex do it, and thinking about the vast difference between the way we drive in Canada vs here, and the four lives that would be in my hand…I pass. As it is in most developing countries, people here drive like crazy. The alto signs, are really just seen as a suggestion. I almost never see anyone make an actual stop. Sometimes they don’t even slow down. They dgaf.
I feel a bit like I’m cheating by cruising up to the airport in an air conditioned car, but it’s infinitely more convenient. Chicken busses get old fast. We head up to a place on the way to Managua where an old volcanic crater has turned itself into a lagoon. We find ourselves at the top of a look out point with a few restaurants, and by this point in the day we’re all starving so we sit down and take in the view with some cervezas and lunch. There’s something on the menu called “Plato Tipico” which is like “traditional/typical plate” and claims to feed 6 people so we order it blindly, having no idea what is considered tipico. It could be one giant vat of pinto gallo for all we know.
But it’s not! It’s an epic plate of bite sized various meats a top a bed of plantain chips. Ridiculously large, deep fried, salty, and exactly what a hungry group of boys (+me) could ever hope to receive. We eat it with our hands; I feel like an animal but it’s hilarious and I’m hungry. Idgaf.
Immediately after lunch we hurry down to the lagoon as It’s getting late in the day. I had seen a little side road that looked like it headed down in the direction of the lagoon but it did look a little treacherous. Alex assures me that the truck’s 4-wheel drive can handle it, so we make our descent. Less than 5 minutes in we all start questioning this decision. Yes, the truck is surviving, but this road is absurd. We get stuck twice. Eventually we agree to turn around and find an alternate, preferably paved, route; but of course even this is a challenge. Turning around on a thin and bumpy road requires a 5 point turn, at a spot we choose as least likely to result in us tumbling down a cliff if the distance is misjudged.
By the time we find a safer route down, which requires us driving out to the highway and around the lake, the sun is close to setting. The lake itself is quite warm, which obviously has something to do with the volcano, but it’s not too late in the day to go for a quick swim.
We discuss staying here by the lake, going to nearby Granada, or pushing through and driving to Managua. There are no rooms by the lake, and Managua is the worst, so we drive to Granada. Even here we struggle to find accommodation, but we do get two dorm beds and a private room. The boys are nice and let me have the private. We’re all so knackered from a long day of traveling and some relatively busy days in Ometepe. Mike and Tyler decide to cab to Managua, so they can meet a friend who’s flying into the city, and so they can avoid waking up with us tomorrow at 5am. Extremely valid reason, I don’t want to do that either.
We say our goodbyes, I take a nap, and then head out on the town. I seriously consider just staying in bed and sleeping through (it’s 9pm) but it’s my last night in Nicaragua. I make a last minute decision to go out for dinner and drinks with Taylor, Alex, and some people from the hostel. For the first time in a long time, we’re not all Canadian!
We hit the bumpin’ main street that is lined with restaurants and bars, and miraculously manage to find a table for 14. A Mariachi band comes over to play La Bamba and some other recognizable Spanish tunes during our meal. This is definitely a tourist thing, but hilarious nonetheless.
We go to a busy bar where we dance for a bit, but with our early morning fate fast approaching, we need some sleep.
The morning is rough, but I think I’m going back to my regular self; the one who knows 5am is an absurd time to be awake. Again, it’s super convenient to be chauffeured to the airport. I get more sleep. I say bye to my new Torontonians friends (who are really only half Torontonians because one now works in Fort Mac and the other lives in Scarborough), but it’s very possible I’ll see them again!
Getting to Houston is the worst because I’ve now got 7 hours to kill. An awkward amount of hours. Can’t leave the airport, can’t help but want to die because I’m so bored.
As per usual American security looks ridiculous. While waiting to have them approve my declaration card I notice that each person ahead of me is being asked for finger prints, eye scans, and are having lengthy, displeasing conversations with the guards. I try to prepare myself but I’m already annoyed. I get super lucky though, and the guy I deal with ends up being chill. He asks me where I’ve been etc., and when he asks me if I’ve got any fresh fruit with me I say no, pause for like 30 seconds because I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to make a joke, but then say “have you been to Nicaragua? Their fruit is no bueno” he laughs, and now we’re friends. We make fun of the lady carrying a yappy dog behind me, and I am never asked for finger prints or scans of any sort. He’s probably one in a million chill guards, as American guards are never chill. I’m writing this over the Houston Airport Wifi and am probably now on a list. I hope I’m allowed on my flight tonight.