Nicaragua Day 6: Ometepe Island


We enjoyed a very relaxed Sunday in Moyogalpa, where nearly everything was closed, traffic was minimal, and we hadn’t planned any tourist activities anyway. We had breakfast at a cafe up the road in a hostel run by a Dutch woman and a chain-smoking rack-of-bones American man with bottles of cough medicine and a big box of kleenex at his table. Torre was busy moving chairs around, climbing and running around while we enjoyed our breakfast and chatted with the owners.

“What brought you to Nicaragua?” I asked.
“Stupidity!” the man sighed.

They used to run a hostel in the Caribbean but got tired of being robbed at gunpoint and decided to move somewhere safer. Nicaragua is pretty safe, especially on Ometepe where there is some petty crime, but nothing like they faced before. However, they never counted on the Sandinistas winning another election, and the paperwork and hoops to jump through as business owners is endless. Maybe all the forms they have to submit create jobs somewhere in the government, but it is hard to run a business here.


Hoping swinging would convince Torre to enjoy the hammock with me…



But he’d much rather run around!

When we went back to the hotel, we moved to a double room instead of the cabina, so our cost dropped back into budget at $20/night instead of $50. We relaxed in the hammocks, and Torre ran around some more until he scraped his (already scraped 🙁 )knee, got really gooney, and finally took a nap. Matt went for a walk to explore the town while I read a book and journaled about the day so far and tried to capture impressions:

If my eyes were a camera, this is the picture they’d take – Torre curled on his side with a band-aid on his knee, then rolling on his front with a mew and a grimace, “mah!”
“yep” and he rolls back to his back, eyes closed, hair mussed, mouth almost pouting.

Torre Napping

*Blink* – they’d snap and capture the green leaves tangled and spreading, layers and levels of sturdy trees in yards and empty lots up the street and up the volcano, capped in clouds and accented by cliffs of rust and ash.

The active volcano on Ometepe, Concepcion, is always cloaked with clouds

*Blink* – the pulse of a soldering gun flashes as they replace a roof across the street, the glare of corrugated sheet metal flashing as it’s hoisted over new struts and drilled into place. The yellow hotel with a greeting painted on its driveway now has a shaded veranda, while our own hotel towers with layers of apartments and hammocks and coffee tables on concrete, clay shingles layered against the sun and rain, bleached red fading to the same colour as rust and coloured flags flap up the street, which at night will be lit with iron snowflakes and shooting stars.

After Torre woke up we went for lunch at another cafe up the street with some French specialties and delicious smoothies, then we walked to the top of the main street where Matt had found a church and there was a park. (Click a picture to scan through them all and see captions)

We went back to the hotel to change our clothes then went to the evening mass. Torre played adorably with some little kids and astonished some parishioners who quickly looked around for the parents of this blond little white boy. The music sounded alternately like it was being pumped out of a carousel or an elevator, and I only caught maybe 5% of what the priest said, but I was glad we went to church. I missed my church family though and corporate worship in my language. All in all I felt a bit lonely.

By the end of this night I also had a parenting/travel crisis of weariness with all the stress and battles of will that come with being across the world with a toddler. It ended okay, but for the sake of transparency and humility, let me share this low point from my journal after Torre went to bed:

“I was stressed and yelled and just felt like the worst, like the typical stressed-out mom on a family vacation who makes everyone miserable by complaining and controlling. I don’t know how to de-escalate my stress, and I feel like I’m in a crisis of not only culture but development, that Torre is in a stage where he often won’t listen, doesn’t understand consequences, always wants to run and touch and taste, and I have to not take it personally when he disobeys or ignores. I have to trust that our consistency and love and grace will pay off in our future relationship with him, when he can conceive of respect, and maybe maybe maybe take my word for stuff.

Weary and disappointed in myself, I almost dozed off in a hammock, but then ended up having late-night pizza with Matt, who loves me and takes care of me. While he bought the pizza, I also really enjoyed just sitting on our patio, listening to the geckos chirp, and trying unsuccessfully to get a good picture of one.

After Matt’s phone battery (and therefore my camera) died I saw a gecko hunt and eat a moth. As someone who is a spazz with moths, this was very gratifying.


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