In the end we decided not to take the truck to Isla de Ometepe in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. We left the truck in a hotel's secure parking and headed on over on the ferry.
Just the sort of security we like. It turned out to be rather false advertising, as the dog was only about a foot tall and was the biggest softie, but he did his job and we found the truck safe when we returned.
We had a lovely 3 1/2 km walk to our rustic room on an organic farm down on the lake shore. Isla de Ometepe is made of two volcanoes, so is roughly a figure of eight shape. The main paved road rounds around about half of one of the loops, the rest of the roads are pretty rough dirt. The island's volcanic soil is very fertile and the lower slopes have many small farms. Finca Tierra Bianca had cows, horses, bananas and many different fruit trees. They had a few basic rooms overlooking the lake and Larey, the lady running it was very friendly. She whipped us up meals straight from the farm, only the coffee wasn't hers, it was grown further up the volcano. We were the only people there. Larey is one of those great people you meet when you are learning a language, she chatted away about lots of interesting stuff but slowly and clearly enough for us to understand and was patient with understanding what we were trying to say too. We couldn't work out quite how they came to be advertised online as it was all so low tech. After a lazy few hours we realised there was not a whole lot going on there and if we were going to see the island we'd need some wheels. The next day was Sunday and as the infrequent buses were running even less often, Steve hiked back into the town to arrange a taxi for the next morning.
Our trip around the island took us to a sand spit with lots of birds, a nature reserve and to the largest beach on the island Playa Santa Domingo.
We also bumped into fellow overlanders Alex and Mire who we had first met in Mexico, and their friend Sharon at Agua del Ojos (the eyes of water). These crystal clear pools have water rich in minerals that bubble up from the volcanic rocks. It was wonderfully cool on such a hot day.
On the hikes to and from the Finca we heard the distinctive whoops of a troop of howler monkeys above. They are one of the loudest animals in the world and the whole forest erupts into a cacophony of noise when they are declaring their territory to neighbouring troops. When you hear them, they are usually hard to spot way up in the treetops but on the track we got some great views of them leaping through the mango trees.
We headed back to the mainland after two nights. We first met Alex, Mire and Sharon on the boat and then the Duchies who we'd met back near Leon, near the port. We all camped up that night with the not so scary guard dog.
The Duchies and us turned out to be aiming for the same beach at Playa Mederas the following day. Erika and Michel are veteran beach campers which gave us the confidence to drive along the sand to the far end of the beach. Although the beach had many surfers during the day, it emptied out at five with just a few people camping and sleeping above one of the restaurants. It is a gorgeous beach with shallow exciting enough surf for us but without an undertow. Alex, Mire and Sharon turned up later in the day, which lead to another lovely evening of watching the sunset over the sea, the howler monkeys, chatting,eating and drinking.
The girls have loved having lots of lovely fun adults around them willing to play crazy imaginative games. They have made themselves into mermaids....
...raced hermit crabs....
....and fallen in love with Dunya, the Duchies' elderly dog.
Mire, Sharon and Alex even taught them to boogy board and they were far braver with them than they ever would be with us.
The French family we've been bumping into periodically since Mexico also came on foot too for a couple of days, so it was a quite an overlanders gathering at one end of the beach.