Saturday, 13 February 2016

Isla de Omotepe

It was hard to tear ourselves away from La Manchion hotel. We'd monopolised the waiter's time ordering food at dinner. Still, he needent of worried, we were the only diners in a place that would easily hold 100. We didn't fancy anything off the menu so once we'd established that we wanted to go 'off piste', we went in for the kill. "Omelette possible?" "Si". "Omelette with what?" "Eggs". Still, the view was nice....

The 40 odd km ride to Rivas was hot, blustery and a bit unpleasant on the main road with quite a bit of heavy traffic and a narrow shoulder. The Nicaraguan farmers have certainly done their best to destroy the local vegetation. Apparently it gets more lush once across the border into Costa Rica.....

We got blown off the road twice by the strong side winds, luckily both times we were near a grass verge rather than deep gutters that occurred quite often. Undeterred we powered up on a rather melted Snickers

And then fell for the lure of the aircon Burger King once we reached town.

Rumours were that the ferry out to the volcanic island of Omotepe weren't running due to the wind (see, told you it was blustery!). We rode out to the port to try our luck. Yes they were and there was one going in 10 minutes. Result.  We pedalled out onto the pier where we experienced our first bit of Central American negativity. The boat guy said we couldn't board as they were full. It was pretty chockers I'll give him that but c'mon, this is the land of 'no problemo'. 

We really didn't want to wait another 2 hours for the next boat so I unclipped a pannier to show him that our mighty machines were in fact just mere bicycles. There was a narrow gap just the right size and I pointed at it. Old Pedro's brain then kicked into gear and he went one better telling a truck driver to "drop your tailgate mate, they're coming aboard" and in one fell swoop both bikes were lifted into the back of the empty truck. Sorted.

We walked through into the rather bizarre passenger seating area. After the excitement and action of  the loading we were now in a stale smelling 'bus' full of backpackers wearing life jackets watching the latest Rocky movie on an old TV that was held to the wall with ratchet straps. Somehow we managed to bag a couple of seats right by the window and with a quick "toot toot", we were off!

The lake was pretty choppy but to be honest I can't see why the boats had been cancelled the day before, the rumour, for once, being true. I had a great view of the island about 17km away and couldn't resist a photo. As I got my very non waterproof iPhone out, I watched the water, wary of the spray that had been flying up as we crashed our way along. Ooh, here comes a good one, this'll impress the folks back home I thought...

We spent the next few minutes in a bit of a panic drying out my phone, the passports and my wallet. Still, no damage done and even if I say it myself, a bit of a cracking shot don't you think?

This is the view I was trying to get

Once safely on shore and installed in yet another shabby, slightly overpriced hostel (we can hardly be bothered to look around now) we wandered back to the pier for a classica (that's the local beer) and the obligatory sunset shot

"Bloody poxy lonely planet maps. Why can't they just put more detail on them for people with independent transport rather than  just the vague stuff that bloody backpackers need when getting a taxi or tuk tuk?"  It was about 11am, we'd been riding down a dirt road for about 10km and feeling a bit hot n bothered.  We were on our way to a nature reserve that promised nice walking tracks, some swimming and hopefully a chance to see some monkeys. We'd stopped at a little shop for a drink. 

Typically for the region, the shop sold no water, just coke and local fizzy, sugary filth. We asked if they had anything to eat, expecting a bit of half stale cake or another bag of chilli flavoured crisps. Yes, she had something, we didn't know what it was but we'll have 2 please. They rustled up a couple of plastic chairs and out came a very clean looking Christmas tablecloth. The food arrived. We recognised it as something we'd had in Granada. It's a base of yucca with shredded cabbage on top. Hidden in there somewhere is what the fancy TV chef would describe as "a robust serving of..."  where as I would say, "An effing massive bit...." of pork crackling.  The whole thing is then drizzled (another poncy chef's word) with chilli vinaigrette. The one we had in Granada was delicious but.... On the ride the day before, we'd witnessed some pretty brutal treatment of a pig who was being pulled against its will out of a field by a truck with a rope from the towbar. I couldn't bring myself to eat the pork so fed it to the shop owners dog. Old Rover gave me a "really, are you serious?" look before running off into the bushes with his easily won booty. 

To my great surprise, animal loving Kate chomped through hers with glee, saying that it was fantastic, second only to the generous portion served at the carvery at the Nothe Tavern in Weymouth!
It was only after we'd finished eating and Kate had shared her leftover Yucca with the local pig (oh the irony) that I noticed my mistake. 

The lonely planet (God bless their cotton socks) had in fact included all the necessary detail on their map to find the reserve, we (not just me) had read it wrong. We were now in fact pretty much on completely the wrong side of the island having taken completely the wrong road out of town. No wonder the backpackers on rented motorbikes had been a bit thin on the ground!

We rode on. It was rough but enjoyable.  

I've never seen this sign before

Eventually we made it round to a beach resort on the north side of the island (Playa Domingo for you map lovers) but not before getting another couple of comedy photos

We checked into the cheapest place in town (bit fancy here) and by chance, met another cyclist doing the whole 'bottom of Argentina to Alaska' thing. His serious bike & kit made our 'rigs' look like they came out of a Christmas cracker!

We then happily whiled away the afternoon at the beach. Despite Kate's guts not feeling great she managed to force down a banana/yoghurt smoothie and some chocolate kate, her spirits raised by the more than pleasant view.

1 comment:

  1. Think that's the second time you've given a Shout Out to Weymouth hostelries - seem to remember some mention of Weatherspoon's while you were in SE Asia! I'm sure they'd be very proud!

    Great shot of the water - and the one where we could actually see the volcanoes. Glad your phone survived to tell the tale.