The end of July and beginning of August were very special as I was taking some time off to spend with some very special visitors, my mom and Aunt Betty. Their visit started with my first solo trip into Managua, which went very smoothly despite Tony trying to make me worry about missing my bus stop. After meeting them at the airport we made our way to the hotel. On the way there my aunt entertained our driver with the present my mom got her: a personal fan with neon lights, perfect to keep cool “ Nica style”. After we got checked into our room we decided to grab a drink on the patio and ended up being entertained late into the night by some expats living in San Juan del Sur. The morning came and it was time for Betty to make her first visit to Ometepe, and for my mom to return to see some friends who were waiting for her.
As the Fiesta Patronale was winding down, we decided to venture out to see the torro’s our first night back on the island so we didn’t miss them. We were hoping to stay for a bit of the fiesta as well, but we got stuck in a downpour and it was rained out. Luckily a friend was working one of the food stands and she managed to get us a table where we could eat dinner without getting soaked. We were also lucky enough to end up at the tent that had a mini generator so we still had music when the power went out. It was for the best we didn’t stay out too late that first night as we had an early morning adventure planned for the Sunday morning. After having done the Maderas volcano hike the last time Mom had come, we decided to try a more gentle adventure and do the smaller hike to the San Ramon waterfall. It was a very bumpy ride over to the other side of the island, some of the guides refer to is as a Nica massage, and then a short drive up the volcano to the start of the walk. The hike in is about a kilometer or kilometer and a half but it is up the volcano and as such can be a bit tricky. The walk was beautiful and we saw many butterflies and crossed over a small stream. Once we arrived at the waterfall it was stunning. The sun was beaming down over the rocks and there was enough water to make the falls something to see. We hung out a bit in the pools, had lunch and then made our way back down and home to Moyogalpa.
The next day it was off to the nature reserve and lagoon at Charco Verde. I am a little embarrassed to say that I have been here seven months, and the only time I went to Charco Verde was just to hang at the beach one afternoon with Raly. This time my mom got to play tour guide as she had been there back in May, however we had to find a new route as her original path had been washed out. The reserve had a very bayou feel with the lake, the lagoon and the trees. As no trip to the island is complete without going to Ojo del Agua we followed our day at Charco Verde with a one at Ojo. Betty really enjoyed the cool waters, and a friend of mine who drove us there in his moto-taxi joined us for the afternoon. I was even convinced to jump off the ‘tarzan’ swing at the far end of the pools, for the first time. On our way back we managed to catch part of the procession of the virgin between Esquipulas and Los Angeles as the start to the Fiesta Patronale in Los Angeles. It was interesting to see everyone all dressed up and getting ready to dance and ride horses for the 2 km walk. As Mom and Betty were taking pictures strings of ‘fireworks’ were set off right beside them!
Our time on the island had come to a close and we made our way to Granada. On our first full day in Granada we decided we hadn’t seen quite enough volcanoes yet, so went on a tour of Volcan Masaya. Volcan Masaya is an active volcano just outside of Granada where cars are asked to park facing out, just in case you need to evacuate. It was quite interesting being able to look right into an active volcano, unfortunately due to the angle of where I was and it being day I couldn’t see lava but we did get to see the unique birds that are able to live inside the volcano and aren’t bothered by the sulfur gas in the air. After the volcano we made our way to the Catarina lookout at Laguna Apoyo, which has a stunning view of the lagoon and the surrounding land. We then went to the Masaya market where you can shop for handicrafts from the various regions of Nicaragua to your hearts content followed by San Juan del Oriente in the Pueblos Blancos where you can see the handicrafts being made. That evening we took a tour of Granada city from one of the many carriages around the main square.
In the land of lakes and volcanoes, one is never at a shortage of things to see and so we followed our tour of the active Volcan Masaya with the dormant Volcan Mombacho. First we toured the coffee farm and learned all about the process that the coffee beans go through to get from the farm to your morning cup. We then went up a bit higher on the volcano to do the smaller crater hike. It was another great hike with fantastic views of Granada, Lake Nicaragua and the Isletas. We got to see some wildlife, most notably a small deer that came up along the path and took a few moments looking at our group before deciding to head off another direction and a sloth that was lazily sleeping in a tree before being disturbed by our guide. Volcan Mombacho is interesting in that although it is dormant, it has fumaroles – holes in the ground that vent hot sulfur filled air. Before leaving Mombacho it was time for one more adventure – a canopy zip line through some of Mombacho’s forest. It was a first time for everyone, especially my Aunt who at the start looked a little hesitant but by the end was swinging every which way with our guides Luis, Jesus and Rambo. Our last day in Granada was very relaxing, a little shopping, a little walking, a little visit to the spa and some very tasty meals. The next day was a sad one, as I had to say goodbye to Betty and my mom. It was so much fun having them here visiting and when I returned home my little house seemed very quiet.
Prior to my mom’s visit she had gone on a little campaign for NDI. My mom happens to be one of those amazing people who are very supportive of a good cause, as well she is very supportive of me and what I have chosen to do with my career and my volunteering with NDI. As part of the DIOSA program, NDI does PAP smears for women on the island and it gives them an option for a different experience than one they might get at the local health centers. As NDI has looked into how the exams are evaluated it was decided that for more accurate results it is best to use a private lab, and so as such NDI pays for the results of each PAP. As many people know regular PAP exams are used for early detection of cervical cancer, which then expedites treatment and recovery. It was this cause that my mom took up and took to her equally supportive and generous friends. I would like to take a small moment to thank my mom and all our friends and family who so generously donated to NDI for Ometepe women. Your contribution means so much to NDI and the health of the women here, which in turn means the health of many families here on Ometepe. Thus far her campaign has raised over 2,800$, which will cover many PAP exams and help to ensure the women here have access to early detection and reliable results. Thank you all again.