Join me on Ometepe: it’s time for the fourth installment in my Central America retrospective! I hope you enjoyed the last post, where I began to discuss my month-long stay in Nicaragua, in early 2009. This post will cover January 16 to February 4, at which point I crossed the border again to catch my return flight from San José, Costa Rica.
Before I move on to more food photos, I want to share how impactful my time on Ometepe was. There was so much more to this part of the trip than just the food! 🙂
I spent about a week in the small city of Granada, and then made my way to Isla de Ometepe, the volcanic island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.
On Ometepe, I stayed exclusively at a permaculture farm and hostel called El Zopilote, upon the recommendation of a fellow Omega Institute staff member. I had no idea what I was in for when I arrived.
It turned out to be the most rustic place I’d ever stayed, and simultaneously as blissful a period as I could remember in a long time. The first time I lived and worked on a farm (Hawaii, 2006), I did not adapt well to life without modern conveniences: the compost toilets grossed me out, the lack of available WiFi made me feel lonely despite having fellow WWOOFers around constantly, I never stopped feeling uncomfortable and too removed from familiar society.
But my time at El Zopilote was the opposite. I was older, for one, and I had four seasons of living in community at Omega as well as several cumulative months of travel under my belt. Also, this was a permaculture farm where everything was done right, rather than others that have labels like organic and sustainable and not actually following through. Compost toilets? Awesome! Handwashing my clothes? An arm workout, sure, but I was glad to do it. Walk four miles for the fastest Internet connection? Sure, the weather’s beautiful!
I experienced such a wonderful, welcoming energy (after my first night or two, when I’d showered and rested and had time to settle in) at el Zopilote, and on all of Ometepe, really– it truly felt magical. Some locals said this has to do with the impact of the volcanoes themselves, steeped in folkloric legend. Journalist Rachel Jackson sums it up nicely: My trip to the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua was at once magical and real, and I felt like I was trapped inside a novel by one of the Latin American authors that made the genre of magical realism famous. The friends I made- from England, Germany, France, and throughout the United States- also contributed to my wonderful memories of Ometepe.
But you came here to see food pictures, didn’t you? Okay, here’s the thing: El Zopilote is owned and run by an Italian family, so three times a week they serve pizza baked right in their wood-fired clay and brick oven. There are several varieties, all thin crust and all delicious:
One of the nicest aspects of the farm was all the free fruit: there were all sorts of crops like tobacco, coffee, chilies, and various herbs, but the fruit was free for the taking.
Of course, there were still meals eaten out, when we ventured to the bigger towns of Altagracia and Moyogalpa:
Throughout my three weeks on the island, I never lacked for something to do. I worked on the farm for four hours a day, hiked to some waterfalls, met tons of travelers and locals, rode on motorcycles, walked a lot, spent time on the beach, enjoyed the sounds of the monkeys and birds, and just enjoyed the magnificent scenery.
It’s amazing, when I was living so close to the earth and in such close contact with other people, how I realized this state of peaceful bliss, not needing anything else and always looking forward to what awaited me next. Ever since I left I’ve wanted to return. Apparently there is an airstrip underway, to enable international flights to the island, rather than just the slow ferry ride. I just hope this doesn’t spoil Ometepe and make it too accessible to the “bustling, driving world”, as Mark Twain so eloquently wrote.
That wraps up my Central America series, kids! What destination shall I cover next time? France? Spain? England? You decide!
- An excellent Ometepe info page on ViaNica.com
- The Everywhereist: She’s one of my favorite blogs, travel or otherwise
- Like the TV show Parks and Recreation? My husband Andy made a stencil out of Ron Swanson!
- Are you on Pinterest? Let’s connect!
- I love chocolate chip cookies. But a chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal skillet cookie?? HEAVEN.
Out of the midst of the beautiful Lake Nicaragua spring two magnificent pyramids, clad in the softest and richest green, all flecked with shadow and sunshine, whose summits pierce the billowy clouds. They look so isolated from the world and its turmoil–so tranquil, so dreamy, so steeped in slumber and eternal repose. What a home one might make among their shady forests, their sunny slopes, their breezy dells, after he had grown weary of the toil, anxiety and unrest of the bustling, driving world. —Mark Twain