After my nerve racking arrival to Isla de Ometepe (check out part one), I was finally feeling much better and was ready to relax. Throughout our days, Thomas and I enjoyed bike riding around the island and indulged in relaxation from the local hot springs heated from the volcanoes. In the evenings we ate magnificent meals at our hostel including a mac n’ cheese and stir fry that filled my stomach with pure satisfaction. The restaurant within the hostel was so good, we didn’t even venture out to other places because we wanted to try every item on the menu! During the nights we rounded up as many other backpackers from our hostel to join in on the 2 for 1 mojitos being served at the bar just up the street. The owner of this bar was so surprised when twelve backpackers in search of a good night had arrived for the $2CAN special! The result of having a large group was the bar running out of clean glasses for us to use but in good backpacker nature we just explained to the owner that we would reuse our glasses throughout the night.
Two days later, Thomas and I decided to head back over to the mainland; making the trek to the south of Nicaragua. I was relieved when we woke up in the morning to see that the weather was cooperating with us. My only desire was that we would not have a repeat of the ferry incident. While purchasing our tickets, I mentally prepared myself for the ride back, praying that I would not get sea sick. After all, I had stayed away from anything hamburgesa…
When the return ferry had arrived I was pleased to see that it was much bigger, holding more passengers and appeared to be much more secure than our last ride. The ferry boasted two decks providing passengers with the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors during the ride. Because the weather so beautiful, I took to the upper deck to get some photographs of the island. Thomas stayed on the main deck at the front of the ferry and continued enjoying a conversation with two other Canadians who were joining us on the venture to San Juan Del Sur. As I enjoyed capturing everlasting memories of Isla de Ometepe in the distance, the journey was thus far a success.
While the crew packed up the last of the belongings and strapped everything together with an old rope, the engines started and our trip back to the mainland began. My natural anxiety about our bags being secured properly was in full effect due to the fact that everything was practically sitting at the back of the boat…on an open deck. One sway….one quick movement and those belongings would be lake-bound. As I continued to enjoy the scenery, my focus suddenly turned to the crew chatting about an odd sound. As I listened intensely to their conversation, I began to head towards the narrow stairs to Thomas….
…And as quickly as I grabbed the post to the stairs a sudden jerk forced my body forward and I grasped onto anything to stop myself. The ferry came to a sudden stop.
A turbulence sound from the engine suddenly shocked everyone on board. The crew began to scurry around the ferry trying to resolve the problem. In between individuals trying to move around, I was unable to move myself back to the stairway. Instead I continued to hold onto the inner post of the covered area of the ferry. Thomas yelled out to me ensuring that I was ok. I yelled back in English with a nervous ‘yeah’ but while the crew moved around bumping and pushing past me I noticed that the ferry began to slowly turn against the current of the waves. With the boat at a complete stop, it began to rock back and forth… stronger and stronger. The familiar feeling of two days prior began to hit my body once again. I began to feel that sensation of uneasiness in my stomach.
Back and Forth…
Back and Forth…
Back and Forth…
Back and Forth…. the passengers became quieter…
The next 40 minutes everyone held onto the poles on the upper deck; the ferry rocking closer to the water each time. I began to think about the possibility of us capsizing!!! Without being able to move closer to Thomas, I vividly remember other passengers looking very scared. An older gentleman who was holding onto an outer post asked me in Spanish if I knew how to swim, my response was a simple “Si y Ustedes?” …and with a worried expression on his face he replied with a simple “no”.
On the main deck, the boat was rocking so much that water was flooding through the bottom of the railings, entering the cabin of the ferry. While Thomas and the other Canadians held on, Thomas watched a man seated just inside the doorway appearing SO green… that he looked like he was going to puke all over the place.
On the upper deck, I continued to make a plan in my mind ensuring I was close to an ‘exiting’ area for when the ferry made that final tilt over. Surprisingly the belongings at the back of the boat continued to stay in place. I was relieved that our bags were in the center underneath other bags because with each wave brought more water up on deck soaking most items. However, at this point, our backpacks were the least of my concerns. While we continued to feel the rocking motion of the boat, I realized that my camera was still around my neck. Keeping one hand on a post, I managed to get my camera bag open with one hand and began to put my camera away safely. With all the craziness from the crew trying to resolve the problem, one individual pushed passed me… and in slow motion I saw my camera get knocked out of my hand. My heart dropped. With open arms… everyone around me attempted to grab the camera and luckily someone gripped in time.
Back and Forth…
Back and Forth…
Back and Forth…rumble...rumble…
When the sound of the engine began…everyone waited intensely. “Todo es Bueno…es Bueno!” - "All is good...all is good!" the crew began to yell out and everyone on board sighed with relief. The mood of the ferry changed from worried expressions and silence to instant smiles and laughter. Once the ferry arrived at port and I was finally able to be reunited with Thomas on the main deck we looked at each other speechless and relieved. Holding hands and taking a step onto the mainland of Nicaragua… our Nica ferry escapades were finally over.
Well, it had finally happened…I had opted to eat a hamburguesa at a local corner restaurant in Granada and my body rejected it as quickly as I had consumed it. It was indeed my first experience of traveler’s food poisoning and the bathroom at our hostel became my best friend for the night. Unfortunately, in the morning we had already planned to make our trek to Isla de Ometepe; an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua created by two active volcanoes. The only way to get to the island was to take a public ferry which would take approximately 1 hour long. I dreaded the thought of being stranded on a boat while my bodily functions did not comply with my brain. When we took a taxi ride down to the port of Rivas, we realized that the windy weather was becoming a concern. Grains of sand hit our faces as we purchased our tickets and waited for the ferry to arrive. Thomas decided to purchase a coffee and pastry while we stood with our backs to the gust of the wind. Thomas concluded that his pastry (pasteles de pollo) was much crunchier than usual due to the sand.
As my body continued to grasp the idea that we would be on a boat with this windy weather, Thomas continued to cheer me on as we waited. It was about the same time we were approached by two women backpackers; a Spaniard and a fellow Canadian. The two travelers appeared to be a bit worried about the conditions of the water. For myself, I kept thinking about the unimaginable….that rumble…that rage in my stomach. As we continued to laugh about the journey we were about to embark on, we saw the ferry pull up to the man made port. It was then I became concerned about the stability of the ferry.
The ferry was old. That wooden vintage look….similar to the one that belonged in a movie destined to be shipwrecked. The wooden vessel rocked back and forth as we climbed aboard. We headed straight to the cabin for shelter as the sand continued to strike us in the face.
Once we were on the boat, the instant rocking caused my stomach to take a turn for the worst! We hadn’t even departed yet and I felt that I was going to experience a serious case of traveler’s diarrhea. Thomas quickly took my bag off my back and told me to sit down in one of the middle seats away from the windows so the rocking wouldn’t be so severe. I felt myself beginning to sweat. As I tried to pretend that I was feeling ok… I felt my body go into cold sweats needing to relieve itself from the torture of that hamburguesa. In front of me was the washroom and it was the first time in my life that I would refuse to use a public restroom as it looked as though it had never been cleaned.
Thomas settled into a seat near a window. With the winds gusting, he attempted to close the wooden window but it was stuck. The other travelers we had met, were sitting across from us and began to look as green as I felt. While we heard the boat engine start, the first wave hit the side of the boat to the point where water reached the open window and SPLASH! Thomas was soaked. His body cold, he moved closer to me laughing as though he should have known better. I, on the other hand, naturally began complaining… stating I was going to throw up…or worse!
Another backpacker who was sitting across from us offered me a Dorito chip. My response was a simple plea for the empty bag as I updated him on my status. Kindly, the backpacker leaned back into his seat smiling and began to eat his delicious treat faster. Praying in desperation to survive, I closed my eyes and eventually fell asleep. By the time we arrived on Isla de Ometepe, I had just woken up. Thomas grabbed our belongings, both of us thankful to have reached our destination safely. I knew my day was about to get better.
The next task at hand for Thomas and I was to find a home for the next couple of days. We had decided to find a hostel once we arrived on the island. The two girls told us about the hostel they booked and suggested that we should come check it out. Without any regrets we decided to book at the same hostel called Hospedaje Central. The hostel embodied that simple relaxed Nica vibe and for a reasonable cost. Our private room was basic, containing two beds with a simple in-suite bathroom. I decided to ‘freshen up’ once we settled in, taking my time for a relaxing shower. Afterwards I tried to eat some traditional gallo-pinto as my body attempted to cooperate with me. As the afternoon arrived at our doorstep, I went outside and enjoyed the view of one of the volcanoes relieved that my horrible Nica ferry adventure was at last... over.
…Or at least I thought. (Stay tuned.)