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It had all the ingredients of a great horror movie: old farmhouse, creaky floorboards, walk in the dark through a forest, howls in the night. This was Isla Ometepe, an island sitting in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, formed by two volcanoes with a small strip of land extending between them.
As soon as we arrived at the ferry port, clouds descended upon us and the water churned up in to waves San Juan del Sur would have been proud of. Our “ferry” limped to the port, severely lopsided by it’s years of crossing these waters. We jumped on and set off for a torrid hour crossing.
A couple of English travellers that we’d met were almost immediately soaked. The boat sunk down to the bottom of one wave before crashing in to the side of the next, drenching those lucky enough to be sat on the right in the process! It wasn’t just through the window that the water poured either, with gaping holes visibly inviting water in where the floor met the side of the boat.
There were more than a few green faces by the time we arrived on Ometepe, but we had made it and were greeted by the looming, cloud topped volcanoes that dominated the island. The best way that I can describe the island is like a huge farm. Horses, pigs, cows, chickens roaming the streets (which in itself is a loose term as half of the island was very much unpaved).
This is why we were here: to get away from civilisation, see the Nicaraguan countryside and chill. Soon enough, we had arrived on the other side of the island at Finca Magdalena, a coffee producing farm a couple of kilometres up the volcano from the lake.
We scaled the creaky staircase in the the old barn, which now housed backpackers passing through. From the top, we took in the spectacular view whilst watching the sun melt the sky behind Volcan Concepción in to a deep, orangey red.
Night descended very quickly and before we knew it we were in total darkness. There wasn’t a whole lot going on at Finca Magdalena, so we decided to head out in to the dark in search of another hostel for food. Within minutes we heard strange squeals coming from the trees. Looking up we could just about make out the dark fur of a family of howler monkeys, loudly screeching from the treetops.
Given that half of the island was only accessible by dirt roads, it wasn’t a surprise that no street lights were around to guide our way. Walking down through the dark forest, we were suddenly greeted by an angry dog, barking loudly until we were suitably far enough from its owner’s property. This dog’s bark seemed to awaken every other dog on the island as a chorus of furious barks echoed through the forest and continued to do so for the remainder of our hike.
Just as we had gotten used to the howls and barks of the dogs, we heard a loud MOOOO come from just a couple of feet away from us. The cow was just as surprised to see us emerge alongside her as we were to see her!
We pushed on, assuming wrongly that the hostel must be around each corner that we approached. We asked one girl who told us we were 20 minutes away, then 10 minutes later were told we had an hour to go.
After another ten minutes, talk of turning around began as a huge hairy local sprung out in front of us. The black tarantula scuttled across the road and was clearly confused by the light, darting one way then the other. We hopped over our furry friend and finally found the entrance to El Zapilote!
We’d worked up quite an appetite after nearly an hour of hiking through the dark and so devoured the freshly made pizza and savoured every sip of the beer. Delicious! We’d been told there was a comedy show on that night, and to this day I’m not 100% sure whether the band playing was deliberately weird to make people laugh, or whether I should feel awful for not taking them seriously.
Have you ever seen a tarantula in the wild?