Words with Friends.

It’s taken me some time to write about this next phase of my trip to Nicaragua — the two days in Ometepe — because it lacks a story. Sure, things happened. We couldn’t stay at the farm we’d read about, so we had a perfectly lovely time at the place next door. Dinner took too long at a restaurant, causing us to walk back to our cabin in the dark. We’d forgotten to stock up on cash before arriving on the island, so we ended up paying for our swanky volcano-side lodging with PayPal. All those things are somewhat interesting, but none were defining moments. And, frankly, as I tried to go into detail about them, I bored myself.

In the two days we spent exploring Ometepe, an island made of two (one live, one not) volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua (Lake Colcibolca), my favorite moment was the one pictured above. Bethany and I eschewed dinner in favor of two large Toñas while watching the sun set behind (live) Concepción volcano on the front porch of our cabin. To explain why I enjoyed this experience over all others would strip it from its simplicity. Let’s just say this: sometimes it takes two plane flights, as well as a bus ride, ferry ride and two cab rides to get to a place that facilitates conversation—without interruption, without distraction, without Words with Friends. Actual words. With friends.

We stayed on a farm on the east side of Maderas. (She’s the lame volcano, the one we climbed halfway up to take this photo of Concepción.) Using one to get a better sight of the other, the popular one, the pretty one; we were nothing more than a plot line in Sweet Valley Twins.

Complete with its own livestock, our place was the romantic eco-vision of a flitting and garrulous Italian who cooked the best meal I had on the trip. (He was one of two Italians to own organic farms that doubled as lodging on this side of the island.) A very specific category on Ometepe.

The aforementioned meal wasn’t Nicaraguan; I understand that it’s lame that my favorite meal in Nicaragua was an Italian breakfast. But look at it. The fruit couldn’t have been more fresh. I still remember every bite of the mangoes. And the omelette, topped with basil and tomatoes and cheese. So good. And the bread is among the best I’ve had, baked in an outdoor oven, thick with grain. Nutty. Delicious. All served alongside fresh coffee. Can you blame me?

Our Italian host (see him in the center there?) held out on us the second day (a rarity in the way I travel, by the way, the second day). No bread. No mangoes. Instead, pancakes with local honey and preserves. And additional guests at the breakfast table. These people kindly did not memorize my credit card number as I skyped with my bank back home, using our host’s computer. (Someone had forgotten to notify her financial institution that she was leaving the country.)

And here’s the thing about travel. For these people (let’s call them Brooklyn and Rhode Island) it was their first day. As second-day guests, we had the authority to guide their afternoons, to say, Go Here and Try This and Stay Away From This.

But we kept the best thing to ourselves. Sit on the front porch, talk, drink, stare at the volcano until you forget that its the most incredible thing you’ve seen all day. Because, well, they’ve got to discover some secrets on their own.

Hotel Finca Del Sol
Santa Cruz,
Del Empalme, 350 metros al Este.
Isla de Ometepe
505.8364.6394

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