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Thread: Island Within An Island

  1. #1

    Default Island Within An Island

    Moyogalpa was good to me for the most part. It's the major port town on Ometepe, and it's the only town that receives tourists from Granada. The town flows up directly from the dock, and as a result I felt connected to the lake and the dock and therefor to Rivas and Granada the entire time I was there. This feeling was amplified by the large number of tourists that I'd see flowing through town every day--mostly from Europe. While Moyogalpa is a beautiful place to live, and it is technically on an island in the middle of a like in Nicaragua, it doesn't feel as remote as I had hoped as a result of it being a busy touristy port town.

    Hospedaje Rosemary is where I called home while staying in Moyogalpa. They rented me a small room with a bed and a couple of nightstands and chairs and a TV for C$3000/month--just over $100/month. My room and the hospedaje mirror Moyogalpa. There were always people moving by my door and working right outside my door and talking outside my door and playing outside my door. I would often see women washing their children in the lavandero. The people who worked in the shops to either side of us would come in to use the smaller lavandero to clean their mops and hook up hoses to spray down their sidewalks. The people who lived and worked there would make fires on the ground to cook rice or soup or fish. In short, while my small room tucked off a small hospedaje seemed remote, it didn't feel that way.

    The constant internet access in my room was a good thing and a selling point for me when I was looking for a place to stay. However, this also proved to connect me to the rest of the world in a way that robbed me of the sense of isolation, immersion, and adventure. Sure, I'd still have moments where I'd lose myself in the natural wonder that is Ometepe. These came when I would leave Moyogalpa, my room, and my internet access behind and take (often times risky) walks around the island.

    The people in Moyogalpa and the people in Hospedaje Rosemary treated me well for the most part, and I'm glad that I spent a month there. I enjoyed my ready access to chocolate milk and the park and the seats down by the port where I would go to write. That being said, when my month expired on the 16th, I felt ready to move on to something different.

    I stayed in my room in Moyogalpa until after 10:00 am so that I could have my last Cup of Noodles from Pali and watch some Netflix--while I still had the strong WiFi signal. I left shortly after the bus passed, so I had to sit on the side of the road for nearly an hour before the next one came along. The ride takes about 40 minutes and costs C$17 between Moyogalpa and Altagracia. I had my large pack as well as both of my smaller packs and a bowl and a travel pillow. Somehow, I squeezed myself into a seat. The bus filled up, so I had to put my large pack on my lap.

    There are a couple of reasonably prices hostels in Altagracia. I picked one with a nice common area: shade, tables, chairs, hammocks, plants, a good view, air flow. I'd talked to the man who runs the place (Julio) over a month ago about how much he'd charge me to stay there. He's settled on $120/month for a large room with a private bath and access to a lavandero and the public areas. I only needed to stay 25 nights, so he agree to $100, and I moved in.

    I had to go back to Moyogalpa to get a water jug (bidon) that I'd left behind as well as my hangers. I waited around for a bus, spent 40 minutes returning to Moyogalpa, grabbed my stuff and a farewell chocolate milk from Pali, waited around again for the bus, and then spent another 40 hours to Altagracia again. This last time, I was standing for most of the way, and the bus was so packed that people had difficulty squeezing past me and each other to get off the bus at each stop.

    I noticed an almost immediate difference between the feel of my new room and the one in Hospedaje Rosemary. While my old room was small and had a low ceiling, this room is quite spacious and has a tall ceiling. In addition to having a tall ceiling, it has screened openings up near the ceiling. I wondered about there at first, because they are far to high up to serve as windows, but the I noticed how much cooler it was in my new room all day long--but especially at night. It gets so cool at night, that I have to get up to turn my fan off before I fall asleep, or I wake up shivering. I know that a cooler room seems like a small detail, but it has had a significant impact on my alertness and energy level. Cooler is better.

    The next difference that I noticed were the insects and arachnids. On my first night in Altagracia, I walked out to the central park to look around and see about dinner. I got into this habit while in Moyogalpa. As I walked around the park, I kept walking into spiderwebs. I'm taller than most people, and this might explain some of the webs that stretched across my face as I walked through the park, but as I retraced my steps, I ran into new spiderwebs. Those industrious little buggers where spinning webs across the paths in the park all around me and almost a quickly as my face could clear them.

    When I sat down to eat, ants and beetles and spiders crawled on me, and gnats and mosquitoes and flies dropped by to say hi. I had a gnat problem in Hospedaje Rosemary in the evenings, but there are far more insects and spiders in the park in Altagracia then there are in the park in Moyogalpa. Why? I have a theory that it's because the park in Altagracia has more trees and plants and that these attract the creepy crawlies. I noticed the same thing in my new hotel. The nice common area is nice because of the plants and the shade and the cool temperature, and all of these thing also seem to attract bugs.

    Where there are bugs, there are birds. I can lounge in the hammock out in front of my room and watch bright blue or bright yellow or bright green birds all day long playing in the branches of the almond and mango and citrus trees. The presence of bird sound as well as their bright plumage makes me feel more connected to nature. Oddly, so does the presence of all of the bugs.

    I had grand plans of using Altagracia as a jumping off point to explore other parts of Ometepe, and I had intended to start right away. I ended up spending my first few days in Altagracia without ever leaving the small town. I walk around in the mornings looking for breakfast. I found a place the sells boiled beans for C$10. I found a few places that sell bananas for C$1 each and bread for C$1 each and green peppers or onions for C$3 each and 3 mandarin oranges for C$10. I've learned that I can make a nice breakfast of beans with bell peppers and onions accompanied with bananas, mandarins, and bread--all for $1. I've never been able to eat all of that $1 worth of food in one sitting, so I end up having some mandarins and bread along with my lunch.

    The morning walks around Altagracia to buy my food and bring it back to my hotel along with the preparation of my food and the cleanup after has created a pattern of behavior that I find oddly pleasurable and comforting.

    It has been raining in the late morning and early afternoons every day since I've been here. So, after my breakfast routine, I write and read back at my hotel while swing in a hammock or rocking in a chair.

    I've been spending my afternoons back in my room after walking down to the park to get lunch--usually a piece of chicken from NicPollo--to escape the heat. The ceiling fan in my room is strong, and the shape of the room wicks the hot air up and away. I had thought to spend that time writing, but I ended up taking naps for an hour or two. These are pure bliss. Why haven't I been taking afternoon naps all along?

    Evening walks are still a part of my routine, despite the spiderwebs. I love walking around at night in Nicaragua, and Ometepe provides me with a unique opportunity to do so in relative safety that I don't intend to squander. There are Christmas manger scenes setup along one whole street next to the park. My favorite one is a large model of a ferry with a baby on the deck. I don't often see boats substituted for mangers. There are inexpensive food options all around the central park in Altagracia. I favor one where I get to sit down and have a full plate of food for C$50--or for C$60 if I want a refresco. I had a glass of calala last night that was refreshing.

    After three nights in Altagracia, I have an entirely new outlook. Unlike Moyogalpa, Altagracia isn't a port town (anymore). Even when it was, the port was about 2 kilometers away, so within the town, you cannot see the lake. Also, Altagracia doesn't see nearly as many tourists. I still see one now and again, but I'm not being bombarded with them on a daily basis like I was in Moyogalpa. My new outlook many be shaped by these variables, but I can't be sure. What I know for sure is that I feel that sense of remote isolation and connection with the wild in Altagracia that I felt lacking in Moyogalpa.

    Today after breakfast, I decided to take a walk down memory lane. I'd come to Altagracia with my younger brother Kim many years ago. When we made the trip, we left Granada in the late afternoon, and we didn't get to the port until after sunset. As a result, we didn't get any pictures of the port or the road to Altagracia. Because it's me, we walked the 2 kilometers from the port to Altagracia in the dark. I remember hearing the waves hitting the beach in the dark, but we couldn't see anything. We took the bus around to the other side of the island and then took a ferry to San Jorge, so we didn't ever get ta chance to see it in the light of day. I wanted to walk down there and see what we'd missed the last time.

    Not long after I started my walk, clouds rolled in and it rained on me. I took cover under some banana stalks until the worst of it passed. The road becomes dirt when it leaves Altagracia, and there are some sketchy stretches without houses or people. I saw a man with a machete in his hand and a knife in his belt come out of some banana stalks on one side of the road, cross it quickly, and then disappear into the banana stalks on the other side of the road. There was nobody else around, and I didn't even notice him in the banana stalks until I was almost upon him.

    A dog attacked me on that road. It stood in the middle of the street and didn't budge as I walked towards it. It just stared me down. When I got close, I stopped. As soon as I did, the dog snarled, barred his teeth, and got aggressive. I raised a boot to draw its attention and then I lunged at it. I've learned that aggressive wild (or mostly wild) dogs in Nicaragua only fear and respect strength. Once I "attacked," the dog turned tail and ran. It jumped over a stone wall and into a banana field to get away from me.

    I kept my camera stowed on my way down to the port, because I didn't know what I was in for, and because I figured it'd be too dangerous to have it out. However, once I got close to the lake, I took it out. I couldn't resist the views over the lake. On the northern shore of Ometepe, the mainland is so far away that from water level you cannot see the far side. My brother and I had missed quite a bit by walking that stretch after dark.

    A large abandoned building that looks like it might have been a hotel stands abandoned near the port. It's likely that squatters have moved into it, because I saw a group of men out front, and one of them was climbing over the wall as I approached. My guess is that this place died when they closed the ferry route that used to run between Granada and Altagracia.

    The port is closed and looks mostly abandoned. However, there is at least one military guy stationed there to raise the flags and hang out in an outbuilding. I noticed him as I was taking pictures and walking around it to the shore.

    I took more pictures on my way back towards Altagracia now that I knew were was safe enough. I hope you enjoy them.

    I'm enjoying the remote escapist adventurous feel of Altagracia. It's sparking my imagination in a way that the more cosmopolitan Moyogalpa couldn't. For this reason, I plan on dedicating more time to writing while I'm here, but I will still take walks and submit articles on TRN.

    Saludos!

    Last edited by drlemcor; 12-19-2016 at 03:21 PM. Reason: spelling
    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Island Within An Island

    Sounds like you have found a sweet spot to settle into for a bit. When the waves kick up on the lake it really makes the pics look like you are on the coast. Those first few could almost be from the Corn Island. Nice looking place. Be interesting to find out the story on the big building, looks like an investment that stalled out.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Island Within An Island

    I, also, liked the look of the big building. LOVED the views of the water through the trees. And the green on your walk. Nice shot of Samuel-san.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Island Within An Island

    Quote Originally Posted by songbird27 View Post
    I, also, liked the look of the big building. LOVED the views of the water through the trees. And the green on your walk. Nice shot of Samuel-san.
    I am always on a look out for cows, pigs, monkeys, and birds.
    Soy el chele mono.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Island Within An Island

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    I am always on a look out for cows, pigs, monkeys, and birds.
    💕

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