Nicaragua 2013 Photography Travels

Sueños de Mariposas – Ometepe Island

“Dreams of butterflies”

the self proclaimed artist concluded, after finishing his freestyled poem by a bonfire of plastic bottles and trash collected on the beach. “We need to take care of the environment, the visitors that come here don’t know how to behave and just leave all their waste, so we are cleaning our beach by burning it.”

A lot of surreal things happened during our short stay at the Ometepe island, there was a dancing gorilla, beautiful tree houses and a house pig – but throughout, it was an island full of butterflies.

We set off from Managua already on Friday afternoon, to spend the night in Granada where we met with friends and where we would be closer to go to the island on the next day. Ometepe Island is located in Central America’s biggest lake, Lake Nicaragua, and it consists of two big volcanoes, lush jungle and various little lakes and wateralls. We woke up early to catch the first local bus leaving at 5.45 from the Granada Central Market to Rivas, a one hour trip that cost us less than $1 each. Once in Rivas bus station, we were told that there were no buses to the San Jorge port as it was a Saturday, and that we would need to take an expensive taxi. With suspicious minds we asked around and everybody confirmed that there was no bus, until we met a young guy who said that there indeed was one.. a bit further away.. “I can take you there, I can show you, it’s just over there, around the corner.” he said repeatedly, almost insisting. But we agreed that if somebody insists on doing you a favour, just like that, it’s often not the best idea to accept. So we thanked and decided on one of the taxi’s that had an acceptable fare and valid ID. USD $3 to get to the San Jorge port, where we would take the boat to Ometepe. There are two boats, the taxi driver explained, the more expensive 50 córdobas ferry, and the cheaper 30 córdobas boats. They take the same amount of time so we went for the cheaper option. A relaxing one hour boat trip.

We arrived in Ometepe and realized that it was not the little cute island we had imagined it to be – the city of Moyogalpa is actually a busy place, and getting around the island takes time. An hour and a half later, on a 35 Córdobas Chicken bus, we arrived to Santa Cruz where we checked in at Little Morgan’s guesthouse, a backpacker place with a bar, a beautiful treehouse and a great airy dorm. Now, as we only had the rest of Saturday, and Sunday morning left – we decided not to try to move around to the different activities and volcano trekking, but to enjoy the island on site from Santa Cruz, a quiet place completely packed with butterflies.

So we went for lunch and took a walk on the beach where met the tattooed artist Johnson and his friends as they were collecting trash for their “environmentally conscious bonfire”.  The group had a lot to say about the universe, about stones and about preserving the environment and Ometepe forests, and Johnson sang, made up poems and made a necklace for Camila. We walked into a music video production of a Nicaraguan cumbia band where the artists were pretending to sing and play for the camera, while a girl in bikini was dancing with a man in a gorilla suit and rasta wig – and then we met 10 year old Marko and his younger brother Pedro as they were trying to catch a fish caught in a water puddle separated from the sea. Beautiful.

When the sun started setting, we headed back to our hostel where the people had started to gather and spent the evening in very eclectic company, including a playful pig that lives in the hostel.

On our way back next morning, there was no bus as a powerline was blocking a road, so we shared a minibus leaving from the hostel which cost us 125 Córdobas each to get back to Moyogalpa. On Sundays, you can only take the more expensive 50 Córdobas ferry so we did that, and once in San Jorge there was a local bus that took us all the way back to Managua for 75 Córdobas. Camila bought fried banana and chicken in a plastic bag for us to eat. I listened to Cultura Profética and enjoyed the bumpy road while looking out the window.

Our Ometepe adventure turned into a short and intense trip, but the feeling of being out on the road again, of seeing something new, and of breathing in fresh air was completely worth it.


  1. the rabbits are cute! the gorillas looks greasy, and I wonder if the 3 ladies in the black dresses were just having regular fun, or doing something solemn.

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