Last week was Semana Santa – it’s the equivalent of spring break in the States, with more of a religious intonation. That’s not to say the activities taking place are any more pure than a typical high school or college Cancun trip, it just means that Jesus will forgive the sinners BECAUSE they’re taking time off from school/work to celebrate Good Friday and Easter (by getting really drunk) instead of taking a hiatus because “it’s that time of year.”
For the first part of Semana Santa, Jason and I went to the Island of Ometepe to hang out with some of his friends. The island is in the middle of Lake Nicaragua – the only fresh-water lake in the world that has fresh-water sharks. Cool, eh? I didn’t see any though. I guess the Japanese came in a while back and had permission to kill 25,000 per year, and now the sharks only exist in the dark depths in the center of the lake. Anyway, Ometepe was formed by two volcanoes (one of which is still very active), and now has a relatively sizeable population…well, for Nicaragua. To get to the island, we took an hour-long boat ride from the port of San Jorge in Rivas. We stayed at this really cute hotel with fantastic breakfasts, and even though they don’t have AC, I’d stay there again just for the hash browns. During the days we kayaked in the lake, we went to a pool that was fed by a fresh spring, and by night we watched with NCAA tournament and drank Toña. We missed the championship game though, because we decided to head over to Rio San Juan by boat (12 hours), across the other side of the lake. I felt really nauseous for the first few hours of the boat ride. Jason and I had a bet on whether or not I would actually get sick. I won (of course). I was also awake all night, while Jason was fast asleep in his hammock. I can’t complain though; the sunrise was beautiful. We arrived in San Carlos very early the next morning, and immediately jumped on another boat heading to El Castillo. There’s nothing much to do in San Carlos. It looks cute from the water, and then you get off the boat…
El Castillo (the castle) is a beautiful little town about an hour east of San Carlos on the river. There actually is a castle (more like a fort), that was used by the Spanish to prevent the advance of the English up the river/further into Nicaragua. This little town is void of cars, taxis, cat-calls, white people and unfortunately, TV in English. We stayed at a really cute little hotel at the end of the road that had accidental entertainment of turtles and crocodiles directly off of the balcony of the restaurant. The crocodiles were more annoyed by the turtles than interested – there was no level of desire to consume the hard-shelled creatures. The turtles, on the other hand, like the free ride on the back of a crocodile, until we’d throw a banana peel in the water…then the fight for dinner ensued. It shouldn’t be too surprising, but I never would have guessed that turtles would get really excited about eating banana peels.
It rained just about every night, but during the day we were pretty lucky. We went horseback riding through the jungle and saw monkeys, we took a boat to a national reserve for a hike and saw those poisonous red…dart…tree frogs..? I can’t remember what they’re called… We woke up at about 5am one morning to see the 200-pound tarpon fish jump. Overall, it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. Until the bus ride back - 6 hours on a highway made of rock and sand the day after horseback riding.
That's all for now. I miss you guys... Can't WAIT to be back in the States for Katie's wedding in July!