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Thread: Merida

  1. #1

    Default Merida

    On Wednesday January 4th, I took a bus from Altagracia to Santa Cruz for C$13. I took one of my small backpacks with a change of clothes along with the bottle of water and camera that I normally took on my walks, because I had heard that the only buses to Merida left in the afternoon and the only buses from Merida left in the early morning. The result of this odd bus schedule is that if you don't want to rent a bike or scooter or walk, that you have to spend the night in Merida.

    The sign post at Santa Cruz indicates 6 kilometers to Merida. Aside from know the general distance, I knew nothing about Merida or the road that I was taking, and so I was filled with the usual mix of excitement and heightened awareness that I get when I explore someplace new.

    The first half of the road to Merida cuts across the strip of land that connects the Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes. So, I was able to take many photos of both volcanoes along this stretch. However, the trees and the slope on the Maderas side made it harder to get clear shots of this volcano until I hooked south, so most of my good shots are of Conception over the stretch of land between them.

    I hugged the shade as much as I could, but I was forced into march in the sun for uncomfortably long periods of time. I was reminded on the time that I climbed the Masaya volcano and near passed out do to sunstroke. Luckily for me, once I rounded the corner and stated south, the road is flanked by trees and I shade is plentiful.

    I had imagined that there wouldn't be much traffic along the dirt road between Santa Cruz and Merida because of the limited buses. However, I was passed by tourists on scooters and motorcycles and ATVs and bicycles all afternoon. When I was staying in Moyogalpa, I wondered where all of the tourists that poured off the ferries went, because most of them left Moyogalpa fairly quickly. It seems that they are draw to Merida in droves.

    I was the only one of foot for most of the road, and I only saw an occasional Nicaraguan walking the latter part of the road between small towns. I may not have much that distinguishes me, but being a walking fool still seems to be my exclusive domain.

    The road doesn't even touch the beach until it reaches Merida. From all of the maps that I'd seen, I thought that it'd be like the road around the other side of Maderas towards Balgues, where there are spectacular vistas of the lake along most of the road. Not so. Thick thees and more distance shelter the road from the shore.

    At a couple of points, I followed a road off the right side of the road down to the lake shore to take some pictures and to see what the lake looks like from this new vantage. I discovered tourists in kayaks out on the water and views of Conception from the south. I also discovered some surprised Nicaraguans that were washing their clothes in the lake. It is clear that most of the tourists don't venture off the main road.

    A dog was surprised to see me too. When I got to the shore to take pictures, a dog jumped up and started barking at me in anxious desperation. I even captured this dog in a photo by accident. I walked toward the dog to take some pictures from another angel, and it ran from me in fear. It yipped excitedly as if I were beating it and tucked its tail. A tall white man without much hair is a terror to behold.

    There are more and more houses along the road as you approach Merida. I had walked for so long that I started asking people along the road or in pulperias if I was already in Merida. They told me no, but that I was close. There is a drop down to the lake shore that crosses a small bridge that marks the arrival to Merida.

    The road splits in the tiny town. The right fork fish hooks to the right and then dead ends at a hostel with its own dock. The left fork wraps up and around the town and then continues through the trees on past towards San Ramon and some sort of waterfall. I've heard people talking about the tourist attraction of this waterfall, and I was asked by some tourists on scooters if I knew the way--I only knew that it was someplace around San Ramon south of Merida.

    I spent a bit of time in Merida taking pictures from the shore, but it's such a small place that there wasn't any reason for me to stick around after that. So, I took the left fork and followed it until I reached a small old concrete dock that faces north. I walked out onto it and took some pictures of Merida to the north of me, and then I decided that if I was going to have to retrace my steps, that I'd walked far enough for one day.

    The road south of Merida becomes even more rough and broken then the dirt road between Santa Cruz and Merida, and that's saying something. This part of Ometepe has a true "off the beaten track" feel. I understand now why it attracts so many backpackers. It's the same psychology address in the Leonardo Dicaprio movie "The Beach." They want to explore someplace new and remote and untainted by the modern world. The southern rim of Maderas is as remote as one can get on Ometepe.

    The partial cloud cover that I enjoyed earlier in the day had entirely melted off by the time I started walking back towards Santa Cruz. The up side to this is that the shots that I got of the volcanoes were clearer on the way back. The down side to this is that the sun was beating me down even worse on the way last 3 kilometer stretch across the strip of land between the volcanoes. I drank all of the water that I had brought with me (1.5 liters) on the way back, and even so I was feeling overheated and faint.

    I took another detour to the lake shore on the way back before turning east. I ran across some cattle this time. I saw one cow stick its head around a corner and watch me as I approached along the one-lane trail down to the lake. When I reached the cow, I saw a long line of cattle (including some impressively horned bulls) behind that one cow waiting patiently for me to pass. Once I did, they all (or most of them) walked up the way I'd come.

    I took some more pictures down by the lake (this time without any kayaks in the shots). When I walked back, I saw a large bull in a field eyeing me. I stopped to take its picture, and it squared up and started kicking the ground with its front hoof. I took this as a warning and went about my business.

    There are some amazing views along the road between Santa Cruz and Merida. The north-south stretch offers some of Maderas, but if you want to see the lake, then you need to take one of the many cross trails down to the shore. I highly recommend this walk. All of the people on bikes and scooters and motorcycles weren't stopping to enjoy the sights. I didn't see anyone else taking pictures. Yes, it's brutally hot and sunny in parts, but that can easily be remedied by bringing a hat and some sunblock. This beautiful part of Ometepe can only truly be appreciated on foot.

    Given my detours and shooting past Merida, I figure that I walked around 15 kilometers on this trip. When I got back to Santa Cruz, I opted to wait for the bus to Altagracia rather than walking. I was tired and sunburned and overheated.

    I took a cold shower and relaxed under a strong fan back in my room as I uploaded my photos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I.

    Saludos!

    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Merida

    More photos:

    Soy el chele mono.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Merida

    More photos:

    Soy el chele mono.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Merida

    Looks really laid back out there. The amount of free range livestock is a good indicator to me that crime is low. Some of those horses looked well cared for, others not so much. Any idea what the big grey skinned trees are? Also looked like they had some really old coconuts there, some of the tallest I've seen. Great pics and looks like a nice place to go. Would be great to walk it all and see everything but I'd probably rather be one of the tourists on a moped.

  5. #5
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Merida

    Quote Originally Posted by kwah2249 View Post
    Looks really laid back out there. The amount of free range livestock is a good indicator to me that crime is low. Some of those horses looked well cared for, others not so much. Any idea what the big grey skinned trees are? Also looked like they had some really old coconuts there, some of the tallest I've seen. Great pics and looks like a nice place to go. Would be great to walk it all and see everything but I'd probably rather be one of the tourists on a moped.

    I did the tourist on a moped thing and "saw" the island but I think that drlemcor really has been the one to "see" it.

    One thing we did do was visit a museum on the island that had many old Indian artifacts (Pre-Colombian). The museum was great.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Merida

    i like the backside of Ometepe better than the front moyogalpa/altagracia area. Especially once you pass Merida, and the san ramon waterfall and get to the farther points...san pedro, la palma. very chill back there, and you dont see hardly any tourists. Sat and had the best cup of coffee ive had in a long time at some lady's house there 2 years back. Just stopped in the town and started talking and some lady invited us up for some food. A piece of fresh tasty chicken and a salad from her garden. And some coffee her aunt grows up the volcano a bit. Stayed there for a couple days. As chill of a place as ive ever found in this country.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Merida

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    I did the tourist on a moped thing and "saw" the island but I think that drlemcor really has been the one to "see" it.

    One thing we did do was visit a museum on the island that had many old Indian artifacts (Pre-Colombian). The museum was great.



    That moped idea is really a good one. Few of us have the stamina and determination of Walking Man.
    In a vehicle, there is always a distance between you and the world (a good thing sometimes, but the vehicle separates you from the people too).

    When I had the Highlander all my rides got into the vehicle.
    Now they just jump on the back of the truck. I don't even meet them.
    "Muchas Gracias" "De Nada. Mucho Gusto"


    I've always been reluctant to use a MC for general travel because of the perceived danger associated with it.
    With all the new drivers in Nicaragua that is only going to get much worse.
    And, it's dirty,, wet, and everything else, IF you are stuck with it.

    But, a small MC loaded in the back of a truck might be the way to go. You don't need to ARRIVE anywhere with it
    Arrive with the truvk and then get someone to help you lift the bike out,, and explore.
    Stop easily when you want to look at something, or talk to someone,, not to mention being able to go down a less traveled road.

    Strap the MC back into the truck when you are done and move on.

  8. #8
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Merida

    Consider an electric bike.....15 mile range with NO pedaling...cheap or free recharge.

    They are great for old guys.....not that you are old.....
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Merida

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    Consider an electric bike.....15 mile range with NO pedaling...cheap or free recharge.

    They are great for old guys.....not that you are old.....
    I'm getting there. I'm currently starting to bald in the back, and the gray hair and sneaking into the mix.
    Soy el chele mono.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Merida

    I was thinking a bike would be a good in between walking and moped. The elevation changes closer to the volcano could be pretty strenuous. I'm probably just thinking like a tourist and want to see as much as possible in a short time period.

    If I ever need a work truck in Nica after retirement I'd figure out a way to make a temp camper / RV out of it. Take the slow trip down south, I'll buy the how to manual from KWP. Would include ferry to Ometepe and a ferry to BLU. I think that would be a fun trip, might be completely opposite.

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