A few weeks ago we moved from our original condo and home of our first 5 weeks, up the hill. It is a great house, a great location, and a great deal (Que ganga en espanol!). For whatever reason or collection of reasons, the move really rocked our world. All of us were out of sorts and the rhythm of rest, serve, & play disrupted. Thrown in the mix was Holy Week – Semana Santa. (Please check out our blog posts from Holy week!).
So, when Wes had a birthday and asked about going to a nearby Island to hike a volcano to celebrate, we thought it was a great idea! We were able to make plans to also visit a library and orphanage while on the island, and so instead of just a long one day trip we turned it into 4. We were blessed to bring friends Esau & Heather who had just returned from a Missions trip with Merge (Covenant World Mission) to Honduras and we were excited to have time with them to catch up.
It was a wonderful trip for all, and we’ve returned refreshed and way more settled!
Enjoy some pictures and all the nitty gritty! Warning…we did A LOT in just 4 days, and this post is long!
Our trip over to the island began early in the morning. We had a really heavy bin of books to take over with us, and we could get a ride to the ferry if we left by 6 am (as the driver needed to be back in time to take the mobile library folks out to their school). We were grateful for the ride as it saved us 2 buses and a lot of time! Agusto got us to the pier in perfect time to make a final decision on taking a Lancha or Ferry, get loaded on to a ferry and settled into some seats. It was just a one hour ride from San Jorge to Moyogalpa.
We were met at the dock by a friend of both Richard and Edwin named Harlan. Harlan owns a transport company and was wonderful to work with. We quickly agreed to an offer we could not refuse and were on our way to the Ometepe Library.
Audrey’s Reflections: I liked going to the Ometepe Library a lot. It was cool to take them so many new books. As I was there, I could picture us going back some day. The librarian told us she could use a few more tables and chairs, and would also like a stapler. I hope we can go back to bring her these things and to do art with her kids. It is common for 100 children to come to her library in the afternoons (younger kids just go to school from 8 am to noon). The best part of the visit for me was when her husband showed me his private collection of pottery. Ometepe has Pre-Columbian history, and so they have a lot of petroglyphs, idols, and pots that they have found over the years. We studied the Mayans at school, and it reminds me a lot of them. Before we left, the man’s face lit up really bright and he gave me a bowl. I thought he was just excited to show me, but then I found out he was giving it to me as a gift. He was giving me a present of a bowl that is 800 to 1000 years old, and he was filled with joy in doing this. That made me happy.
After our time at the library, we headed down the road to the Money Museum & El Ceibo Museum. Very simple places, and yet well worth our time. We took the guided tour option and were happy we did. The island has a long history! Wow!
Our friend Jane recommended Finca Venecia for us to stay at. It was PERFECT! Clean cabins right on the beach of Lake Nicaragua!
Ojo de Agua are two natural swimming pools in the middle of the forest. A little buggy if you weren’t swimming, but cool & refreshing if you were. Super beautiful and a perfect stop on our adventure!
Volcan Maderas – From the guide book
A couple of thousand years ago the summit of the Maderas(1394 m) exploded and a multitude of lava boulders rained down on the slopes of the volcano. Today, the truncated cone of the Maderas is covered in thick cloud forest. On its summit a crater lagoon has formed where you can swim in a serene setting. The cloud forest shelters a diverse floral and faunal life, including howler and capuchin monkeys, many birds, butterflies, amazing orchids and ferns. Because of its ecological and archaeological importance most of the Maderas side of the island has been designated a nature reserve.
Reflections from Wes: I am walking. The mud covered slope of this volcano is slippery. Traveling upwards is like trying to stay standing on the top of a water slide. Small Lizards dart back and forth across the trail out of the thick green cloud forest. I slip and begin to fall but am able to grab a vine. I feel for a moment as if I am Tarzan. We have been walking all day, and only 4 of the original 10 are continuing to the top. Omar(our guide) is ahead of me, and Olivea and Esau are behind. If we don't reach the top before twelve-o-clock noon we will be forced to walk down without seeing the view. I run. When I reach the top, Omar and I wait for a few seconds for Olivea and Esau to get here. The clouds make it hard to see further then the mountain, so there is no view. When they arrive We take a group picture next to a sign with a picture of a gnome on it. I am partially surprised when Omar starts leading us down a different trail afterwards. Then I remember the lagoon. The lagoon sits inside of the volcano's crater and is supposed to be very beautiful, and being that it is not but 11:00 we are able to walk down to it. The trail down into the crater is more muddy then the trail up. There is a rope along the side to keep us from slipping all of the way, but this doesn't prevent us from slipping a little. The mud on my leg is sticky and red. We reach a clearing in the trees, and I see a wonderful thing. A large round field with a small pond in its center and a jagged volcano top providing a halo of light. I walk out into the field, Omar sits down and proceeds to play a song by Adele on his Ipod. Sitting down and resting after walking this far feels amazing. We have 15 minutes to spend here, so I lay down and look at the sky. A cloud passes by the highest point of the craters mouth, we must have passed through the lowest point. The Lagoon doesn't look too dirty, so I decide to go cool off. I set my wallet and camera inside my backpack and walk into the shallow pool. After stepping in I realize that I am up to my knees in mud. It really is as dirty as the guides said. I climb out of the muck and continue to look at the world in awe. While I walk around the crater a man with a beard comes and gives me a fist bump of approval. He enjoyed seeing me struggle in the quicksand. I walk back to the group. Omar says we should head back before the big group to avoid having to walk in their footsteps so we do. It takes another hour or two to get back. It was awesome.
We were all pooped after the volcano hike, and it was nearly dark by the time we got back to the hotel. A quick dinner, and we all were in bed by 7 pm.
The next morning we visited and orphanage. We all wish that we could have jumped in and served some how, but it was nice to visit and dream of a chance to return too. Cicrin is an amazing place for kids and they know that they are loved. They are also set up well for groups to come and spend some time. There are some changes happening in the Nicaraguan government when it comes to centers for children – so we will pray for God’s continued direction for the leadership of Cicrin. http://www.cicrinus.org/
San Ramon Waterfall Hike was beautiful! It took a couple of hours to hike up and then we enjoyed a picnic lunch and playing in the water. We also saw our first serpiente! Ack!
Reflections from Miranda: I loved going to the waterfall. The water was freezing. God makes things that are beautiful for us to enjoy. Everything has a purpose in God’s glorious kingdom. My families purpose is to love because we are loved. The waterfall is beautiful. I hope that some day you can climb to it too. The walk up was my least favorite part, but I was glad I didn’t have to walk the 2 km to the trail head too. On the trail we saw army ants, howler monkey’s, lizards, and a snake.
It was after dark by the time we made it to Altagracia to see the Idols, but we were glad we still stopped by. These are Pre-Columbian originals. A culture that is difficult for me to get my mind around for sure.
It was ou last morning on the Island, and we all had sore muscles, but Charco Verde was right there – so we went for one last hike! It was mostly flat, and the trail began right outside our hotel door. We saw a few new animals but had a hard time getting pictures quick enough. A favorite was a big turtle out on a log sunning itself. It was a lovely walk – quite reflective and contemplative and again filled with lots of stories of the days gone by.
and then it was time to head back to the Ferry & to San Juan del Sur
This just in! Pictures from Olivea’s camera! I especially love the ones she took of the volcano at sunset!