Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.~Gustave Flaubert
We’ve had company most of the month of February. I love when friends come to visit because it gives us an opportunity to tour them around the island and visit places we haven’t explored thoroughly. It also makes me appreciate what a tiny, yet beautiful place we occupy in the world.
We usually hire one of our neighbors to take us around the island. Luis just bought a new Suzuki 4 door vehicle. He will take us anywhere we want to go and his cost is $60 for the day. He says the more tours we take the sooner he will own the car instead of the bank.
Since we’ve lived on the island for over a decade, we know the places tourists like to visit. This February, we toured familiar places and one new-to-us place. Join me for a tour of Ometepe Island.
First Stop, El Ceibo Museo
It has been years since we visited the Pre-Colombian pottery museum. Named for a giant Ceibo tree at the entrance to the long dusty road that leads to two museums, the Pre-Colombian pottery and the coin museum, this is the place to learn all about the pottery excavated on Ometepe Island.
Along with the museums, they have added a hotel, pool, and a new restaurant/bar, where we were treated to shots of cojoyo: a potent fusion of corn, rice, pineapple, and sugar, made on the farm. The indigenous people of Ometepe had consumed it for generations. Our guide poured the syrupy liquid into shot glasses made from black bull horns. We drank it like tequila, with a lick of salt and a bite of mimbro, a very sour fruit resembling a small pickle. Strong, but rico! The other drink he poured reminded me of chicha, a potent fermented corn drink that I sampled in Peru.
The museum had been remodeled since the last time we were there. The guides told the same intriguing stories about the pottery and its uses. There were scalpels made from sharpened obsidian, volcanic tools and arrowheads, burial urns of all sizes called zapatos, and an intact burial site with gifts for the deceased for his/her onward travels.
Second Stop, Charco Verde
I have written several posts about Charco Verde, so I won’t go into detail here. However, this time, the butterfly sanctuary added more butterflies including the Blue Morpho. It was incredible to finally capture a photo of it with its wings spread open.
And of course, we had to stop along the trail and chat with our favorite troop of Howler monkeys.
I can’t believe we have never been to Finca Magdalena. Located on the slopes of Volcano Maderas, it is an organic farm of over 350 hectares. Twenty four families produce coffee, bananas, honey, corn, rice, and vegetables.
One can take tours of the coffee plantation, organic farm, and petroglyphs. The day we arrived, the coffee had already been harvested, so we opted to take the petroglyph tour. After waiting for the rain to stop, which is very unusual for this time of the year, we were led through the forest to see dozens of rocks carved with symbols, animals, birds, and stick figures.
Fourth Stop, lunch at El Campestre
One of my very favorite places to eat on Ometepe Island. They take food seriously and grow their own organic produce making them a true farm-to-fork experience.
Fifth Stop, dessert at the Raw Chocolate Factory
This chocolate is to die for! Believe me. The young couple who opened the Chocolate factory definitely found their niche on the island. Located in Madronal, one must park at the top of the road and walk down a steep dirt path…but it is so worth it.
Sixth Stop, Ojo de Agua
Now after eating all that luscious chocolate, one needs to swim off the pounds, right? Ojo de Agua, or eye of the water, is a natural and crystal clear spring. The first time we visited was in 2003. Then, it was but a bubbly muddy hole of water. We had to walk through a farmer’s plantain field to get to it. Now, there are restaurants, changing rooms, and vendors selling fresh coconut drinks.
When our son visited several years ago, he put a slack line between two trees, and now the owners decided it was a great addition to the pool and they put one up.
Last Stop, Punta Jesus Maria
To end a fabulous tour, we stop at the point of land close to our house called Punta Jesus Maria, to watch the sunset. This always reminds me of the movie, The City of Angels, as they await the setting sun.