03/04/2015 I’m back from Antarctica and it has been a truly breathtaking experience! Can’t wait to write about it once I managed to sort out all the pictures and videos. Right now I am in a hotel in Ushuaia, trying to find a Couchsurfing place for tonight. A good opportunity to provide you my last live update from Nicaragua: Isla de Ometepe.
There are no direct buses to Mérida, so I had to change in Altagracia after the pleasant ferry ride to the Island’s capital Moyogalpa. I tried to find a guide to climb up Volcan Conception there as well, but could not find anyone going up strangely. On my first day, I planned to visit the Waterfalls of San Ramon on the East part of the Island, so that was where I was headed first. The bus to Mérida did not come though, so I ended up in a small shuttle taking me to Santa Cruz. The next bus from there would come in three hours, I was told, making me start walking the 6km to Mérida. A local guy was heading the same way to his house and we joined forces while it started to rain a lot (during the dry season). I actually like the refreshment and we had a fun time communicating in my broken Spanish 🙂
Just after leaving Mérida, I got picked up by a huge truck full of local farmers. Hopping on the back with my big backpack, the local kids on the street cheered up after my big jump on the (real big) truck. It was too late to visit the waterfall now, so I decided to continue walking the last 9km to the place of my Couchsurfing host. Luckily though, I was picked up by another guy in his jeep after walking just 20 minutes or so. He actually knew the french guy living at the beach and pointed me to the path leading to his house.
The CS’ name was Thomas and he built his own house close to Tacana in pretty much the most remote corner of the Island. It was impressive to see how self sufficient he was there, growing all kinds of plants and basically not being depending on anything outside his house. His toilet walls were recently blown away by a storm and sitting on it on a little hill top was quiet funny. Luckily, some palm trees blocked the view to the rest of the area 🙂 He also had two guys volunteering for him as well and we shared a dinner before going to bed, or to be more precise, the hammocks right at the beach!
I was not feeling very well the next morning and had to get up really early to catch the daily bus at 5AM. If you don’t get up to the street at 4:30AM, you might miss it and have to walk all the way back. Luckily, I did not miss it though and made it to the San Ramon Waterfalls. Leaving my backpack behind, I began the 3km hike which turned out to be at least 4 1/2 km though. The waterfall itself was pretty dry and must be impressive during rainy season with it’s 180m drop. On the way back, I got a ride on a buggy from two tourists I met on the way to the waterfalls. Extremely helpful as it was very hot now and I felt even worse, just wanting to get to my hostel called Monkey Island.
The hostel close to the Island with the same name charged 7$ for the night and was pretty nice actually. They had decent WiFi too and access to the beach. Catching the 5AM bus to Altagracia on the next morning, I stayed at Hospejade Ortiz for 5$. They also had a guide there who would take me up Volcan Conception on 5AM in the next morning! He was 5$ cheaper than the usual rate, charging 20$ in the end. We started the hike and he walked very fast, which I liked because I walk fast too. He was REALLY fast though and I had to pace him a bit because I was hoping to hit a good weather window at the top to get a nice view.
The weather in the morning was horrible, it basically rained throughout the complete hike, offering a really spooky atmosphere though. Howler monkeys were all around in the first hour and we would soon arrive at the top after crossing an old lava river. The weather did not get any better and I couldn’t see a thing throughout the complete hike. Waiting on the extremely windy top was not an option too after my guide told me that the weather will be like that for 95% of the days in the year and won’t change at all this day.
We basically ran down the volcano again, reaching the entry point exactly five hours after starting the hike. It was actually good for me because I wanted to get to Tamarindo in Costa Rica before the evening of the same day, a journey which was eventually delayed by a broken ferry and other problems along the way. I arrived at the border pretty late (even though I took an expensive taxi to get there as fast as I can) and had a lot of problems entering Costa Rica. The Immigration officer wouldn’t let me enter unless I showed him a proof of onward travel. I had my booked San Blas Island tour from Panama to Colombia, but he wanted something from Nicaragua to Panama. The only option would have been to buy an expensive 60$ bus ticket from Capital to Capital, rendering completely useless for my travel plans, but thanks to my annoyance and coming back to the same officer three times, he eventually gave me the stamp for free just when I was ready to give up and buy the bus ticket! I caught the last bus leaving the border but was too late for the connection bus to Tamarindo, leaving me stranded in a town between the border and my destination…