Waking up in San Juan del Sur was beautiful and so relaxed. We had a black out at some point in the night so by 7am we were fully awake just because of how hot it was. We hung around a little bit, spent some time reading, and waited outside until the power came back on. We had no idea if it would even come back on but it was so hot inside the hostel without any fans that waiting by the cool ocean breeze was our best option.
When the power came back Zev went for a quick swim and we had breakfast and then packed our bags and headed towards the bus. The hostel offers direct shuttle service to San Jorge which is where you catch the ferry to Ometepe Island. It wasn’t worth it for us to take the shuttle at $10/person when we knew we could catch a couple local buses for about $1.50/person. We walked over to the bus stop which was a few blocks from hostel and got on a local bus to Rivas. This bus cost us 37 pesos – about $1.30. Once we got to the bus station in Rivas we were flooded with cab drivers offering us rides to San Jorge. We knew there was a bus and we didn’t want to give in to these taxi drivers because we had heard really negative things about them. Many of the drivers told us there was no bus or the bus was not good, etc.
We waited for about fifteen minutes a bus to San Jorge pulled up and we were off. All the buses here are yellow school buses so it was really fun for us and reminiscent of old school field trips. The bus ride was quick and cost us $.25. We arrived and bought tickets ($1.30) for the 2:00pm ferry to Ometepe Island.
After an hour or so ferry ride across the lake we landed at San Jose del Sur. Ometepe Island is a typical stop for travelers backpacking through Nicaragua. It is a beautiful island that houses two volcanoes both of which are close enough to see side by side but different enough that you have a nice mix of pure exposed black rock and rainforest like temperatures complete with monkeys and abundant farming. There is a massive lake that surrounds the volcanoes with warm water you can swim in. The island has a natural waterfall called the Jerusalem waterfall and it provides fresh spring water to many of the hostels and restaurants. Needless to say, we were in paradise.
My Spanish has come in handy on this trip. Although I never formally took spanish classes I was around the language enough growing up that I have been able to communicate with everyone quite effectively. When we arrived on the island we took a mini bus which pulled over on the sheer of the road and as another bus was pulling up in the opposite direction they told us to get off and onto that bus. We wondered why we were on a bus in one direction just to switch to another in the other direction but there was no time to really take that into consideration. We jumped off the first bus and hopped on the other bus and we were taken to a town called Balgue (pronounced ball-gway). From there we walked about 2.5km to our hostel in Punta Gorda.
The hostel we stayed at can’t really be described as a hostel and it can’t really be described in one paragraph but I’ll do my best. We stayed at El Jardin de la Vida on a remote part of Ometepe Island. They advertise to people who are looking for something off the beaten path, away from the tourist scene of the island. It is an eco lodge of sorts but I think it is some cross between complete outdoor camping and glamping. The dorm is built inside a hut made of bamboo with dried banana leaves as the roof. The beds are bunkbeds made of wood and bamboo. They have nice mattresses, sheets, and pillows but of course no AC or fans. Everything is powered by solar and because it is rainy season we were doing our best to conserve energy. The shower is an outdoor shower with water supplied from the waterfall and the toilet is in a bamboo shack and is fully compostable. There are hammocks and great reading spaces throughout the lodge but nothing is indoors and there is no cell service or Wi-Fi. The owners Rachel and Trevor are Americans who started this first as a restaurant and then opened as a hostel about a month ago. It is a slice of paradise with lush green gardens and a gorgeous lake with a small beach just across the street.
We arrived around 5:30pm and had dinner and drinks in the lodge’s restaurant (another bamboo hut open on all sides with a roof made of banana leaves). We went to bed early basically once it was dark and woke up the next morning with the sun.