“You told me once of the plants that lie dormant through the drought, that wait, half-dead, deep in the earth. The plants that wait for the rain. You said they’d wait for years, if they had to; that they’d almost kill themselves before they grew again. But as soon as those first drops of water fall, those plants begin to stretch and spread their roots. They travel up through the soil and sand to reach the surface. There’s a chance for them again.”
Author: Lucy Christopher

I walked along the bed of Lake Cocibolca listening to the exhausted earth groan. Her bed is disheveled, scattered with tiny puddles of what once had been the life force of her grand body.
IMG_1421The exposed lake bed lay panting in the relentless and monotonous burning sun. Spirals of heat rise from the parched ground as if from molten lava from Concepcion Volcano who watches from afar.

Shells and snails are cruelly exposed as if their blanket of water has been ripped away leaving them helpless and defenseless against the scorching heat.
IMG_1445Only embedded hoof prints remain as a clue that there were cows wandering the mud flats in their never-ending quest for fresh water.
IMG_1480Thanks to the irrigation pumps dotted along the lake bed, the farmers who are fortunate to own land close to the lake can throw garments of fertility on their plantains, fruit trees, and other crops temporarily dressing their crops in lush greenery.

Punta Jesus Maria, a popular tourist area shown in the distance of the photo below, has a narrow strip of sand, which usually measures about three meters wide and half a mile long, but now is more than five meters wide and over a thousand meters long.

IMG_1432I watch the extensions of PVC pipe stretch their jointed arms farther into the quickly shrinking lake.
IMG_1472This year it is particularly difficult for the farmers. The lake is receding rapidly. It is our third year of drought. Their pumps and pipes are moved farther and farther to greet the shallow water. Are their crops on borrowed time?
IMG_1435Birds call out like beggars pleading for water.
IMG_1486Near the water’s edge, terns and herons chatter and screech…when will the rains begin??
IMG_1452They race along the shallow mud flats in search of food which is getting scarcer.
IMG_1454Hot sand blows into the eyes of the cattle led to the water.
IMG_1459A quick drink will have to suffice until tomorrow morning.
IMG_1463Wearily, the cattle return to their scorched fields, udders hanging limply, while the less than satiated cows trudge along the lake floor, shrunken and muddy.
IMG_1465The women now stand ankle-deep in the shallows of Lake Cocibolca, beating their laundry against the rocks that once rippled and danced in the water. The women now walk 500 meters to reach their laundry platforms, which have been moved farther into the lake to find deeper water. Maria Reyes German Alvarez, 73, said he has forty years of living on the coast of Lake Nicaragua, near the dock of Moyogalpa, noting that although the lake every year in the summer has low level, this year it has gone too far.

A haphazard game of soccer takes place on the lake bed when the sun begins to set giving all a hardy sigh of relief.

IMG_1492Tomorrow, the cows will return to the muddy flats again, the dogs and other critters will cringe under the scanty shade of the trees, and we will all wait…wait for the rain to deliver us from the oppressive heat each day…wait for the rain to shower us with flowers and lush green grass once again.

Yet, the dry season does gift us with some wonderful sunsets. This was a triple gift.
The article in La Prensa, At Risk: Ometepe Travel, describes how the low water levels of Lake Cocibolca hinder the departure and arrival of the boats to the docks. One of the ferries damaged its propeller trying to dock. Although the National Port Company maintains one permanent dredger, it is difficult because the path through the lake needs continuous dredging. If the National Port Company does not bring more dredgers, water transport to Ometepe could become paralyzed in a few weeks.

The ferry captains have reported that unless the National Port Company provides more dredgers, all ferry transport will be halted in 15 days. There are still two more months of drought, so this will be a tragedy without transport off or on the island.

Experts consulted by the press this week to explain the loss level of the two great lakes of Nicaragua: Nicaragua and the Xolotlán, report that there are several environmental factors that are causing this phenomenon.

A severe widespread drought since 2014 by the climatic phenomenon El Niño, rising temperatures cause evaporation of water in the current dry season, plus decades of deforestation of watersheds around the two large lakes, are generating the drought phenomenon in lakes.

Every day the ferries transport six hundred passengers between San Jorge and Ometepe Island, according to estimates by the National Ports. There is a fleet of ten ships of which four can transport vehicles both commercial and private. The weight of the crafts demand a minimum depth of ten feet to maneuver without difficulty. However, some carriers in some areas of the docks where the water reaches depths of just two feet, puts the boats at risk.

And what really astounds me is the idiotic plan to build a gigantic canal through our lake. At this time, a road would be easier to build across the lake bottom.

And so we wait. We wait for the rains that will nourish and gift us with life, health, and transport again.

26 thoughts on “Waiting…

  1. Your photos are beautiful and I especially appreciated the triple sunset! I loved our visit to your beautiful island three years ago and will cross my fingers that rain comes soon. Having gone through several years of drought when we lived on the Texas Coast I have a real appreciation for rain and its ability to make miracles happen. Hopefully one will occur soon in your paradise. Anita

    • Well, amazingly, we woke up yesterday morning to a rainy morning. It rained on and off for about two hours, then the sun came out and dried up all the rain. I only hope it continues. The humidity is really high now. Were you here in the rainy season? What a difference, if you were. Everything is so lush and green, Now everything is withered, wilted, and dead. It is depressing at this time of the year. But, soon….soon…the rains will return. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

  2. This post is incredibly sad to me and very thought provoking. We humans need to learn to coexist with God’s beautiful earth and to not take anything for granted. Loving our enviornment and taking care of it. I pray you will see the lake fill once again. Your last photo is stunning, by the way! Bless~

  3. I’m from Okeechobee, Fl, the 2nd largest lake in the US. Many years ago, we went through this and those of us that lived there thought the lake was done, would never come back. We would drive 1/4 mile out on to the dry lake bed that used to be 6-8-10 feet deep. I don’t remember how long it took, but the lake is thriving and is way above normal depths, has never been healthier. I say this to give some hope to everyone on Ometepe, soon the floodgates will open and everything will be back to normal. Praying!

      • I’ve always found it odd and interesting that rain can be so localized. It always seems as though if we’re getting rain, everyone around should be getting it, too. I hope you get some soon as well and yes, prayer does work, although not always in our timing or in the way we expect. 🙂

  4. Praying for more rain. However, much depends on those who are geo-engineering the climate. This isn’t El Nino.

    • I heard you got some rain in SJDS yesterday. We didn’t see a drop near Moyogalpa, but the other side of the island had a little shower. The part about El Niño was translated from the article in La Prensa. I think they are referring to the 2014 El Niño and the effects that still linger. Keep praying for an early beginning to the rainy season. Thanks for your comments, Kelly.

  5. I hope you get rain soon too, but it sounds like it isn’t likely if you have two more months of drought to look forward to.

    Speaking of the shrinking lake reminded me of when I lived in CA. The droughts there go in about seven year cycles. I remember there is one enormous lake and on the bridge was a sign posted that read, “no fishing from the bridge.” At the time we saw no water at all. There were only bushes and small trees down there. Most of that lake disappeared until the next wet season filled it up again. I hope that doesn’t happen in your case.

  6. HI again.,,,,,,my connection is with the Caribbean and they have had the worst drought there since 1963. Everything dried to the bone. Surrounded by water, that cant be used. Some islands don’t have enough for a sustainable agricultural sector. Seems like there is a cycle, the hurricanes are lessening but the droughts are increasing. The old people used to say every thirty years, there is a cycle. See what happens. Your lake is so, so beautiful and life affirming. Just hope the rains come soon.

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