From Wikipedia: “The islets of Granada (Spanish: Isletas de Granada) are located in Lake Nicaragua, just southeast of the city of Granada in Nicaragua. The islets are a group of 365 small islands scattered about the Asese peninsula. The islets are of volcanic origin, they were formed when the Mombacho volcano blew much of its cone into the lake thousands of years ago, thereby creating the archipelago. Most of islets are covered with vegetation and rich with bird life.
Many of the islets are occupied. Some are privately owned and hold homes or vacation houses. There are facilities for the residents and for tourists. Hotels and shops are established on some of the islets, and boating tours are available.”
My friend Nia and I were on one of these boating tours. Even though this is a fresh water lake, it feels more like an ocean. So much so that there were life jackets on the boat, behind every chair. Seeing the pfds made me feel nervous and relieve at the same time.
Somewhere out in this big lake, I kept getting sloshed with water as I sat near the front, and I seriously started praying when we were going faster and faster and land started disappearing from view. And then, somehow, we hit the islets and the water felt a tad calmer.
After getting home, I did some research, I found out that Lake Nicaragua is one of the largest lake in Central America, the 9th largest lake in the Americas, and ranked 19th largest in the world. This lake is also stuff of legends as there once were Caribbean pirates here, and of course, historical events I won’t get into here.
Before I bored you all to tears with fascinating research, I want to tell you how fascinated I am by the fishes that live in this lake.
Did you know that Sharks live here?
Fresh water sharks, something like the bull sharks in Australia? Sawfish, tilapia (non-native), and other native species, too.
Bird life is richly beautiful here also. You can see egrets and other birds. I saw countless egrets and thought of my friend Cindie. She loves egrets. The bird photos below aren’t egrets, but all the egrets are like on the side of some covered up marsh and trying to get fishes to eat. So they were hiding.
There are also man-made beauties like the homes of the very wealthy and those of the ordinary Nicaraguans that have lived on these islands from the beginning.
It’s kind of funny to see some of these million dollar mansions perched across the way from some ordinary homes with clothes line. I envy and worry about these people. I envy them living in such seclusion and beauty, but worry about them being priced out of their homes. I hope they get fair deals of money if they do sell. Heck, I think that’s more universal to all of us, don’t you think? Even monkeys need a home.
And they do have them here. There’s an island here where the owner placed a few monkeys here to live. A huge tourist attraction as these monkeys are incredibly social and oh my, they rub their tummies asking for food. Totally cute. Here’s one snap I will share…
There are also (luxury) hotels here that you can check into. We didn’t have time to check one out on this tour, but I am sure they are very (luxurious) and secluded here. The reason why I put (luxurious) in parenthesis is that Nia and I found out early on this trip that we are both luxury snobs. Nevermind that we may not even afford these luxuries. This kind of made both of us both wonder about ourselves and what our core values are. So I, for one, am thankful that I learn this early on this trip and hopefully this knowledge will enlighten the rest of my life.
And speaking of enlightenment, here’s Mombacho Volcano. Nothing like the constant threat of an active volcanoes formed thousands of years ago to put your daily life into perspective. Also, there’s the Ometepe.
From Wikipedia. “Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains. It is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua as well as the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world.
The two volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, are joined by a low isthmus to form one island in the shape of an hourglass. Ometepe has an area of 276 km². It is 31 km long and 5 to 10 km wide. The island has a population of 42,000, and an economy based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism. Plantains are the major crop.
As of June 2010, Ometepe was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve.”
Back on land, our guide took us all to lunch in the Masaya region where unexpected visitors pop in as we lunched.
I fed them some of my lunch, pieces of Chimichurri Steak. I want to take one of them home (guess which one? ;)), but even if I could (I couldn’t really), I don’t think the Customs will let me.
Also, these dogs are in need of a few good baths and probably flea sprays. They are probably better living here in the restaurant where people would give them some lunch.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.
After lunch, we did some quick shopping at the markets and got some fresh juices, we were off again.
They really push the hammocks at these places.
We briefly stop at Granada. And when I say brief, I mean it.
Like off to take one photo and then off we go again. Okay, I got a few photos, but I would have like to stay longer, but long way back to Costa Rica, so we had to squeeze everything in within one day. If you ever want to do Nicaragua more in-depth, stay a day or two. Lots of interesting history there.
And now we are off to see the sacrifice of virgins at the mouth of the Volcano!
Hello?!? Are you still with me?
If you are, you should know that I am just kidding, but the guide told us they used to do that there…so scary!!!
The Masaya Volcano is also active. The last explosion was in 2001 where it sent rocks up to the surface. The result: Damaged cars and one person injured.
Our guide told us that where we were standing is not safe at all. If there was an explosion that day, it could either damage our vehicle or gets us injured, or worse, killed, so we can only stay for 10 – 15 minutes. Plus, the sulfur dioxide in the air…really not good for us. To read more, you can visit the Wikipedia page on the Masaya Volcano.
I found out later that there’s an underground tunnel tour you can take where you can actually see red lava, but given how rushed our trip was, they of course neglect to tell us. (Hmm)
I tried to photograph the depth of the volcano with no avail. The smog of the sulfuric dioxide was so thick that it blanketed the place like fog on a San Francisco night, and it hung in the air around the valley below us.
And then there’s the matter of the cross standing above us. This is the Cross of Francisco de Bobadilla. They put the Cross there because they once believed that the Devil lived within the Volcano, so they had the Volcano exorcised.
If not mistaken, Francisco de Bobadilla was the same man who accused Christopher Columbus of mismanagement and ultimately caused his death. de Bobadilla died on July 11, 1502 during a hurricane that wrecked 20 vessels of the 31-ship convoy, including the flagship, El Dorado, in the Mona Passage returning to Spain. Among the surviving ships was the Aguja, the weakest ship of the convoy and which carried the gold Columbus was owed—spurring accusations that Columbus magically invoked the storm out of vengeance.
After the volcano visit, we all got back on the bus and started our long drive back to Costa Rica. We had an interesting night crossing the border and then finally we were back on Costa Rica soil.
Hope y’all enjoy this post. Part IV coming soon.