Farewell Volcano Land, Hello Massive Mountains – Ometepe, Nicaragua to Monteverde, Costa Rica.

We woke up in the morning, refreshed after a nice sleep (…well Jill was refreshed but Susan had an upset tummy and was feeling decidedly fragile) and enjoyed a nice Central American breakfast (egg, rice and refried beans), coffee and breakfast beers on our own personal little patio outside the hotel, enjoying the fabulous view of the lake and plural volcanoes and using their wifi to see if we could find a later bus to catch to Monteverde so that we could enjoy a bit more time on this beautiful and friendly island. PS and find some monkeys to touch.

Unfortunately our quest was in vain and we’d wasted quite a bit of time on it, so had to hurridly pack up and flag down a taxi to the ferry. We managed to flag one down, sharing with a lovely American stoner (who was there with a load of his mates – they’d hired a 4×4 to see the island and upon boarding the ferry this lad had realised that he’d left his passport in the hotel so had to leave his mates with the car on the ferry and get a taxi round trip to get it) and got to the ferry terminal, bought tickets from a dubious little cafe and sat outside intently watching everyone else to see when they started moving (we’d already headed to the ferry only to be shooed away), drinking beers and swatting away all the zillions of flies that seemed to like us.

It was heartbreaking to see the twin volcanoes slowly fade into the distance as we sailed back across Lake Nicaragua . We had really fallen for the island and had had so much stress to get there – if only we could afford to spend one  more day there!!! An over priced taxi to the Costa Rican border later (you know when you’ve been Tourist-Priced!) and after Susan getting confrontational with one of the border attendants at the Nicaraguan side (he was just wandering around in jeans and t-shirt asking people for $2 each and we, understandably, thought he was just some dubious scammer) we set off in the scorching midday heat to walk about a mile through the queue of lorries to the Costa Rican side.

On the way, we got talking to a little Australian girl (who we recognised from the Ometepe ferry), with a backpack at least twice her size, who had broken the ice by bumming Jill’s lighter, and after asking where she was headed found out that she was going to Monte Verde (the same as us) but was planning on breaking up the journey by spending a night in Liberia. After hearing that we were planning to make it to Monteverde in a day, she rose to the challenge!

“You guys trying to do it in a DAY?”
“Yeah, you up for it?”

She wasn’t even disheartened when we found that we’d actually missed the last bus from the border to Monte Verde, and agreed to follow our back up plan of grabbing a San Jose bus and getting off at a town at the foot of the mountains called Barranca, from where we were sure we could get a collectivo to take us up to the cloud forest.

The bus took forever and we spent the time getting to know our new companion Gabriella, who told us how she started her travelling going around the outback (in a knackered old jeep, with only a camping hammock to sleep in and the constant battle to stop wombats from stealing her cheese) before setting her sights on the Americas. She also casually informed us that she’d seen hundreds of monkeys on Ometepe and if we’d just turned right at the end of the street the hotel was on, we would have seen them. Dammit. The driver gave us a shout once we got to Barranca (after we kept demanding that he drop us at other locations on the way that looked closer to Monteverde but he refused, saying “no! There is nothing there!”) after dark, and he advised that we didn’t hang around as it wasn’t safe. It didn’t look dangerous, and our usually quite accurate danger instincts hadn’t kicked in but we thought we better heed the advice and get moving. After a few threats of staying the night there (Gaby) or hitch-hiking (us) we finally decided on sharing a taxi up to Monteverde. It wasn’t far as the crow flies but took forever due to the tiny, badly surfaced mountain roads, but we’d called by a service station for road beers and were all in high spirits since we’d managed to achieve our objective of getting from Ometepe to Monteverde in one day. We finally made it to Santa Elena and had a horrific panic at the cash point realising we were all out of money! Luckily Jill had just enough on her credit card to cover our share of the taxi fare but the news of our destitution was understandably quite a shock! We found a hostel (offering zip-lining tours and a free taco breakfast) but it only had two free beds and despite the hostel woman offering to bring an extra mattress into our room for Gaby, after a few beers she sloped off to find another hostel and said she’d meet us to go zip-lining the next day. Susan rang Aaron to ask him nicely if he could go to her bank and pay his share of the rent in early, and then we retired to our boudoirs, out of beer money, knackered and looking forward to (and hoping we would have the money for) our zip-lining through the cloud forest canopy the next morning.

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