The first item for today, after a lazy breakfast, was to head next door with Gary and Kelly to go kayaking up into the National Park which for only 100 Cordoba ($5) each was probably the cheapest activity we have done so far!
We made our way out onto the lake and along to the National Park which, as I mentioned in yesterdays post, has been partially flooded due to the rising water levels in the past year. As a result we were able to go fairly deep into the park until mangroves and trees blocked our way to check out the wildlife and plant life that inhabits it. During our time there we saw, and heard, a whole family of howler monkeys along with lots of birds, fish, plants and flying bugs and it was nice to be able to get really close to everything without really bothering them which we would have done on foot if the place hadn’t flooded. Whether we were allowed in there on the kayaks that’s another question which I don’t actually know the answer to.
After the National Park we spent some time kayaking around into the next bay where we were able to land on the beach to take some photos and walk around inside the park for a while. While we were on the beach we ran into an American guy who was staying at the same hotel as us and he said he had to walk all the way around the park, down a track and into the park from the other side to get to where we were so using the kayaks definitely saved us some time. However it was soon time for us to return the kayaks to the hotel and after doing so I decided to swim in the lake for a while just for the novelty of swimming in a shark infested lake. For those of you not in the know Ometepe lake is inhabited by a type of Freshwater Shark that has been known to attack people in the past but which has unfortunately been illegally fished by the locals so the population is nowhere near what it should be.
This afternoon a few of us visited a natural swimming hole on the other side of the island which was apparently a nice place to relax and go swimming. The hotel organised a minibus to take us there, wait for us as long as we wanted, and bring us back for a set price. At the swimming hole the natural rock pool had been formed into a proper river-fed swimming pool which still had the natural bottom and fish swimming in it. There were facilities including a bar, restaurant, souvenir shops, restrooms and sun loungers and we probably spent a couple of hours there swimming and relaxing. I tried to order some food and drinks but they didn’t seem to understand what I was asking for so I just settled for a bottle of water which I know how to order in perfect Spanish. One thing that we thought seemed like a good idea at the time was to jump into the pool from the upstream end and let the current drag us into the pool – that was until I hit myself on the submerged rocks so be careful if you decide to do that while there. I also decided to see if I could swim against the current to see what it’s like but could get nowhere near the end of the pool.
When we returned to the hotel Mena was dealing with an incident involving some of the others in the group who had rented motorbiked. The guide at the hotel recommended they didn’t rent them as they have problems every time guests rent them from a local provider but they decided to go anyway. One of our group fell off and damaged the bike on an unpaved road and another one slipped off and badly burnt her leg on the engine. Mena managed to smooth it over with the company and the amount they were charged reduced significantly when she threatened to call the police. I didn’t really hear much of the conversation though as I wanted to get changed and showered ready for the special BBQ that was organised for tonight.
As it was one of our groups birthday today, and the hotel offered, we had a BBQ put on for us by the hotel consisting of all sorts of meats, rice and beans, fish and tortillas. The quality wasn’t as good as it could have been but it was really nice and they even cooked a birthday cake for him which we had for dessert.
Tomorrow we head into our final country of the trip, Costa Rica, which is the most built up of all the countries on this trip so there should be plenty to do. Four nights in Nicaragua was definitely not enough – I’ve wanted to come to this country for almost 10 years and I like it here so definitely need to return again!