Journey to Ometepe

I’m a firm believer that the journey to a destination should be approached with as much importance and regard as the destination itself. There’s so much excitement, so much to absorb, so much to take away from getting yourself from Point A to Point B (often via Point C and Point D, depending on your luck). I’ve read that Ometepe Island should be part of any traveller’s itinerary to Nicaragua. And now, after having visited, I can confirm this statement’s validity, but as this is beyond the scope of this blog post, I won’t explain why at this moment…

After spending four nights in Granada, I checked myself out of my hostel and the uber-comfortable double bed that had been my crash pad in the dorm, and walked to the bus terminal, passing through the bustling shops and markets that spilled onto the road. I had walked this same road two days earlier to catch a chicken bus to Mombacho, but its familiarity did not temper the noise, odours, and peculiarities I had noticed the first time around. This was my first time taking a chicken bus alone; I’d taken them to and from Granada the past couple days with friends, so I found myself more alert travelling by myself. I felt that the bus was packed much more than on previous occasions, and it was interesting and entertaining just watching all the different vendors selling everything from food to pens that doubled as two-year calendars…

Upon arriving at the bus terminal in Rivas, I tried to pair up with others who were going to Ometepe in order to share a taxi. It was all in vain because unfortunately, everyone was either already part of a big group or had already gotten in a taxi, leaving me with taxi drivers offering very inflated prices to get to the port in San Jorge. I ended up speaking with a rickshaw driver who said that he’d take me to some taxis further away from the terminal, who would offer lower prices. I figured, “Why not?” and got in, and enjoyed the ride a couple streets over, pretending I was a celebrity being the recipient of numerous stares while on the road.

The rickshaw driver pulled over not far away from the terminal, and started telling the taxi drivers that I wanted to get to San Jorge. They were offering the same inflated prices as those at the terminal, but I was able to bargain it down a little, though I still think I overpaid by a dollar or two. At any rate, I got in a taxi for the ~7km ride to the port, happy that my journey was finally progressing…

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Flashback to volcano climb

I had a job interview yesterday and by far the most interesting question posed to me was to describe an achievement, personal or professional, that I have experienced and why it was so memorable.

Immediately, my mind floated back in time to March 2009 and the memory of Volcán Villarrica outside of Pucón, Chile. The past couple months had been filled with unforgettable days and nights of novel experiences – hikes to Incan ruins, new friendships, living in the jungle without electricity or internet, 24 hour bus rides, running down a sand hill in the Atacama desert – why not add climbing a volcano onto the list? So I joined my friends in planning to climb this volcano, blissfully unaware that it would be the most physically demanding activity of my life at that time and still is to this date.

Volcan Villarrica

Why was it such an accomplishment? Because the climb consisted of 5 and a half almost merciless hours of ascent, stopping periodically only for nourishment and rehydration, and being frequently reminded by our guides that we had to get to the top before the increasing winds and cloud cover threatened to prevent us from making it all the way. Part of the volcano was covered by a glacier, and we even had to sport special gear on our hiking boots part of the way to avoid slipping on the snow and ice. Continue reading