San Jose, Costa Rica – Ometepe Island, Nicaragua, February 27-March 17, 2013

February 27-March 12, 2013

We took a little break from travel and found an apartment to rent at Aparthotel Reflejos, in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica.  Two big windows looking over the city….

view of San Jose, Costa Rica, from our little apartment.

view of San Jose, Costa Rica, from our aparthotel

The view changes hourly with beautiful cloud formations moving across the sky.  Behind the clouds there is a dormant volcano that was visible once the whole week.  The temperature stayed at about 75 all week long…very temperate climate!

San Jose at night

San Jose at night

It has been so nice to just stay put and do nothing.  Our aparthotel has a gym which I have been able to use.  The next few weeks will be full of riding again and more adventures, so we will be more than ready for what is ahead.  We have enjoyed cooking our own meals  – we were really tired of eating every meal out. San Jose was our “medical travel” portion of the trip…. lasik for me and the dermatologist for both of us.  Much less expensive than the USA, and very nice facilities.  Dr. Zlatko Piskulich, my eye surgeon, spoke excellent English. I am very pleased with the results!  🙂

March 13, 2013

Left San Jose after my post-op appointment for the lasik and headed north toward the border.  It is so amazing to me that I can see without glasses or contacts!!! At this point, I can even read – though the doctor said I will eventually need reading glasses.

We felt like we were driving in traffic up to Big Bear – two lane highway with long lines of traffic behind a slow moving truck or bus. Busses or taxis will stop at random in the lane to drop off or pick up passengers – or even drop tree branches as they trim trees along the highway!  Scott is able to pass easily with the motorcycle – I can’t imagine trying to travel in a car on these roads!

We have seen the trees all over Central America painted like this.... any one know why?

We have seen the trees all over Central America painted like this…. any one know why?

It took the typical 2 hours to cross the border into Nicaragua…

At each border crossing, we get fumigated

At each border crossing, the bike is fumigated

It didn’t take long to reach San Jorge where the ferry will take us over to the island of Ometepe (Lake Nicaragua) tomorrow.  After eating a disappointing late lunch, we drove through the town as well as the neighboring town trying to find a decent place to stay.

Horse cart getting gas :)

Horse cart getting gas 🙂

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We ended up at Las Hamacas –  a little $37 hotel in San Jorge…. I can hear the iguanas scurrying over the metal roof….hoping we sleep well tonight!

Las Hammacas, San Jorge, Nicaragua

Las Hamacas, San Jorge, Nicaragua

March 14-16, 2013

Despite the scurrying iguanas, avocados crashing loudly onto the metal roofing throughout the night, the bus of kids (high schoolers from Massachusetts, on a trip to make road pavers for Ometepe Island roads) arriving at 2 am, and the guard snoring outside our room, we did sleep okay!  We drove out to the port after breakfast and got right on the ferry.

On the ferry to Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua

On the ferry to Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua

It took about an hour to get to Ometepe Island by ferry from the mainland.  Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes in the middle of the freshwater Lake Nicaragua.

Ferry landing, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ferry landing, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

We have a reservation for 3 nights at a little B&B called La Via Verde Organic Farm.  Eileen and Darrin have lived on the island for 15 years building their farm where they grow all their own food.  They recently opened their 3-room B&B and are doing well.  Our room was very small (8×10) with a nice private porch with hammocks and rocking chairs.  Two rooms are upstairs, with the 3rd room a separate cabana.

La Via Verde B&B, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

La Via Verde B&B, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

La Via Verde B&B, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

La Via Verde B&B, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Eileen and Darren, La Via Verde, Ometepe Island

Our gracious hosts, Eileen and Darren, La Via Verde, Ometepe Island

La Via Verde B&B, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

La Via Verde B&B, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Everything is immaculate – a nice surprise for Central America!  The first night there were other guests (a couple on their honeymoon from Washington D.C), but the last two nights we had the upstairs to ourselves.  Every morning, Eileen and Darrin prepared a delicious breakfast with homemade wheat bread, omelets, pancakes, crepes, fruit, juices, coffee (roasting their own coffee beans!)… We found out the morning we left that Eileen is the daughter of a MAF pilot and grew up in Cameroon, Africa.

Two sisters in their late 20’s, Susan and Kathryn, were staying in the cabana.  They are from Virginia, traveling through Nicaragua for a couple of weeks.  Our first night, we walked with them up to the neighboring ranch, Zopilote, to have pizza made in a wood-fired oven by Italians.  It was a long dark trek up a rocky path in the hills – we were glad we had flashlights!  We had pizza and wine with the backpacker/hippie crowd…  🙂

View of the volcano from La Via Verde deck

Sunset view of the volcano from La Via Verde deck

Moonscape

Moonsliver

We were a bit unprepared for just how primitive it is on the island.  We ended up eating most of our meals at Cafe Campestre… which had pretty good food (and ice cream!).

La Campueste, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Cafe Campestre, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

A drive along the pavered roads was a challenge – most of the islanders do not own a vehicle, but the roadway is where all the horses, cows, oxen, dogs and pigs hang out.

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

The entire road is made from pavers.  Up until about six months ago, the roads were just dirt and rock and very difficult to navigate.  We were told that the horses just wander around during the day because the people that own them don’t have land for them to graze.  At the end of the day, the horses go home.  Eileen and Darrin have had problems with some of the islanders cutting their fence and putting their horses on the farm – the horses would eat their crops and then leave.  They kept repairing the fence, but finally had to threaten the horse’s owners with calling the police before they stopped cutting the fence.  If an animal dies on your property, you have to pay the animal’s owner.  Unless, however, it is a pig (some cultural trivia in case you were interested!).

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

We spent an afternoon at Ojos de Agua – crystal clear mineral spring pools.  It was a nice cool place to relax.  We had grilled chicken, rice and plantains served to us poolside. 🙂

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ojos de Agua, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Sunday, March 17, 2013

We left Ometepe Island this morning on the 9 am ferry.  When we got off the ferry at San Jorge, we were amazed at the crowds on the beach.  There had to be at least 5,000 people there! When we left four days ago, the place was deserted.

The ferry from Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

The ferry from Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Lumber rack - Nicaragua

Lumber rack – Nicaragua

Another Sunday gathering we passed on the road through Nicaragua…. Acres of these little covered-wagons with palm branches on them – I don’t think you can see this in the picture, but most of the oxen’s horns were painted blue.

festival

Nicaraguan festival

Our ride today cooled off as we climbed into the hills of central Nicaragua.  It is interesting to me to see the primitive houses the Nica people live in…almost always with their red internet dish on the roof.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua home with internet

Tire shop

Tire shop with internet!

Bull crossing, Nicaragua

Bull crossing, Nicaragua

Central Nicaragua

Central Nicaragua

We almost made it to the border of Honduras, but our gps sent us off on a detour.  We decided to leave the border crossing for tomorrow… spending the night in Ocotal, Nicaragua.

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2 Responses to San Jose, Costa Rica – Ometepe Island, Nicaragua, February 27-March 17, 2013

  1. Denise says:

    Great stories and pictures, Vickie and Scott. Nice you are able to stay in one place every now and then. The people you have met along the way are going to be the memories you will cherish. You asked why they paint the lower trunks of trees. We were told they paint them with lime to keep insects away. On your return trip, are you taking the inland route or going back by way of the coast?

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