Isla de Ometepe: Where the Streets Have No Name.

concepcion volcano, ometepe

I lay in a lounge chair on the breezy deck of a slow ferry, as it traversed the choppy waters of the vast Lake Nicaragua. Every few hours, we stopped at remote islands to drop off essential supplies and a few passengers. We had ourselves photographed by island dwellers who came with their families to enjoy this rare incursion in their lives and catch a glimpse of the outside world!

It was hard to resist the charm of the Solentiname islands we passed by, but when we finally arrived in Ometepe ten hours later, I knew it had been worth the journey.

isla de ometepe, ometepe nicaragua
First glimpse of Ometepe from the ferry.

The eruption of two volcanoes rising from the expansive Lake Nicaragua created two circular land masses joined by a narrow strip of land – and this island of two mountains was christened as “Ometepe” from the ancient Nahuiti language.

For a blissful week, we lived in the shadow of Volcano Concepcion and Volcano Maderas, on an organic farm called Finca Montania Sagrada, run by a group of Europeans. Like many expats in Central America, our hosts had packed up their lives in search of an affordable tropical paradise, and fallen in love with Ometepe’s magnificent backdrop and earthy way of life.

finca montania sagrada, ometepe airbnb, where to stay in ometepe
Our balcony at Finca Montania Sagrada.

Indeed, after weeks of traveling through undeveloped Garifuna villages in the Caribbean and remote settlements by the River San Juan, Ometepe was a balm for my weariness.  Lying on a hammock, the strong winds swayed me till I fell into a deep slumber in the backdrop of mist-laden volcanoes. By night, tens of shooting stars fell from the night sky, temporarily filling the holes in my soul.

When the outdoors called, we kayaked in the pristine ecosystem of River Istian, rowing through mangroves and marshlands filled with yellow-bellied flycatchers and sea eagles, eagerly looking for the elusive caymans. Against the rough waters and howling wind, we rowed into the most magnificent sunset in the backdrop of the halo-covered Volcano Concepcion. We mountain-biked along dirt roads, past rolling meadows, grazing cattle and sleepy village homes, never once comprehending how life just went on amid such surreal beauty.

Isla de ometepe, concepcion volcano
Rowing on Lake Nicaragua in a magnificent backdrop.
ometepe wildlife, white bellied sea eagle
A white bellied sea eagle keenly looking out for prey.
ometepe cycling, isla de ometepe
Mountain biking along dirt roads in stunning backdrops.

Midway through my stay in Ometepe, a rare longing for India caught me after 4 months of being away – 4 months of subsisting on rice and beans, and conversing in broken Spanish. As the magical realism surrounding Ometepe would have it, I ran into a German guy who spoke Hindi, and heard about an organic vegetarian cafe on the island that served a delicious Indian dal curry.

On a scorching afternoon, we set out on a long bicycle ride to look for this Cafe Campestre. Sweating and hopelessly lost, a local stopped to ask if we needed help. We asked for directions, he nodded and told us to follow him. For countless, long, winding kilometers, we rode behind him. Our destination finally loomed into view, and while we dreamt of the flavors that awaited us, I was surprised to see him turn his bike and ride back towards where we came from.

Donde vas? I yelled. Where are you going? 

A mi casa, he replied.

It turned out he was heading home when he met us, in another direction than our cafe. I was baffled. Why didn’t he just tell us the way?

Porque las callas no tienen nombres aqui, he yelled as he rode away.

Because the streets have no name.

Ometepe cycling, Ometepe photos, Ometepe reviews
Cycling into the sunset.

Have you witnessed unexpected kindness on your travels?

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  1. Ometepe Island! One of my favorite places in over 9 months traveling through Latin America. It’s truly a sleepy, tropical oasis in the middle of a fresh water lake. We stayed in Finca Zopilote which was just fantastic. They had a restaurant on-site that made all the food from what was available on their farm and neighboring farms. We slept in hammocks for just $3/night, which sounds questionable but was actually awesome (when we showed up the first day that was all they had but it was so comfy, we didn’t switch the following day).

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a friendly reminder of the hospitality of the people you meet traveling in a place like Nicaragua. What human spirit exists there! And thanks for your beautiful pictures 🙂

    1. Sleeping in a hammock sounds awesome Scott! No backaches? I can imagine what a breath of fresh air Ometepe must’ve felt like over your 9 months – just the right mix of pristine beauty and development, isn’t it? Glad you liked my story and photos 🙂

  2. jpostcards says:

    Awwwww, that’s so sweet of him. Incredibly kind. Hope the “dal curry” was worth the ride. 🙂

    1. It was totally worth it after all those months of eating black / red beans in all forms 😉

  3. The title of your post reminds me of a song by U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name. So did you manage to have some dal curry? 🙂 Btw, I really like the new look of your blog!

    1. That’s the inspiration behind the title too! Yes, sure managed to have some yummy organic curry.

      Glad you like the new look 🙂

  4. Mahesh Punde says:

    Hi Shivya, I have been following your blog since last year. I really like to read your experiences. The reason for writing this mail to you is that today I have found one article in our local newspaper “*Lokmat*” in which it is mentioned that how you took decision of your new career. Its really inspiring.

    At present its not updated on internet edition of same newspaper but I will send you the link once it will be available.

    Thanks, Mahesh Punde 98236 22 426

    1. Thanks for the heads up Mahesh, and also for emailing me a photo of the article! I can’t read Marathi but I hope it says nice things 😉

  5. Beautifully written i literally felt the breeze around !

  6. The line describing shooting stars filling the holes in your soul – that was sheer poetry! You literally made me travel along with you:)

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  8. Vera Torres says:

    I’m really excited when travelers write an incredible description about my country. Nicaragua is wonderful.

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