Ometepe – an inland jail

It was an island that broke my will. In Granada Nicaragua, George had quickly cemented plans with Klaus to caravan together to Ometepe, a notoriously windy island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua. Cue the kiting fantasies.


I had read that you need reservations to get on the ferry since we would be taking our trucks with us to Ometepe. We, being us, arrived with no such reservations. The scene was chaotic. George and Klaus made first contact with one of the officials who told us to pull to the side. He’d see what he could do. I got the sense that if we got on this ferry, it would be at a premium gringo who doesn’t plan price. We were the last two trucks to get on. At the time, I was grateful for the luck. In hindsight, this was just the island luring us in.

Once the ferry set off, we learned that it was necessary to pay even more money for Sonja and I. Apparently, the first price was just for the boys and the trucks. Hmph. After paying up, the rest of the ride was uneventful. We landed and soon found a place to set camp in a hotel parking lot complete with a dramatic volcano view.

There was a lot of good in the subsequent few days. Good company, free internet, lots of wildlife, hammocks with a breeze, volcano views. The bitterness slowly crept up on me though. We started to run a little low on the essentials, because we were cooking all our meals. The only stores near by were little tiendas, which stocked only basic pantry basics. Show me some vegetables people. The heat was stifling and taking care of the domestics (cooking, cleaning) was infuriating as the dry hot wind kicked up dirt. Each gust was another little backhanded slap for me.

We did manage a waterfall hike in the heat and a tour around the island. It felt good to stretch my legs and stand in the cold water of the falls. George and Klaus tried to kite a few times. The first attempt led to a standoff with a bull as George was fiddling with his big red kite and left him walking back to the camp spot barefoot along a beach used for animal watering. When they again tried, George thought the apocalypse had come as a swarm of flies enveloped them. Luckily for me, the flies didn’t move in the direction of the campsite.

Finally, we decided to get out of dodge and make a run for the border. After visiting both ferries, it became clear that a reservation was required – no ferry today, back to camp. With much hassle on the phone that afternoon, George secured us a ‘reservation’ on the afternoon ferry the following day. We were of course the first to arrive at the dock, not wanting to take any chances. This was a good call because the reservation list it seems was an arbitrarily long list of names scribbled on a sheet of paper. As the departure time approached, cars started arriving and pulling in font of us. Sometimes I miss Canadian’s respect for a queue dammit. George got his game face on and got Vida onto that blasted ferry. Klaus also managed to pull on with a lot of arm flopping from the ferry workers. Were the hands flapping in every direction meant to be helpful and guide Klaus and that big Mercedes on to the boat?

Finally, we pull away from the dock. George and I are on the clock and hoping to make the Costa Rican border crossing that day. We would be flying to Canada and DC in two days time from San Jose. Shortly there after, an official came around trying to explain some update to us. After clarifying with our fellow passengers, we learn that there is a stranded boat in play. Our ferry is now heading to the boat, which we will tow back to the dock we just left. Super duper. No border today. Just let us go Ometepe.

Eventually we dock and find a decent campsite for the night. There was little sleep to be had due to the howling wind all night though. The following morning, we hauled ass into Costa Rica. At the border, it felt like the island was still trying to hold on to us. You are required to get no less than 5 stamps and signatures on your temporary vehicle import permit just to leave Nicaragua.

The most beautiful lake in the world

That was one of the many things I read about Lago Atitlan.  I was skeptical, but the lake didn’t disappoint.  The lake was our last stop with my parents.  Time to relax.

We got to the villa I had booked around 5 pm.  If you recall, we left Semuc Champey at 6:30 am.  We were for the most part distracted by getting the truck into the garage.  This took us the better part of an hour.  There was however time to take in the picturesque view.   Lago Atitlan is surrounded by 3 volcanoes.   Imagine this view framed by floor to ceiling windows and you’ve about got it.  Mom was giddy with excitement.

After all the driving, we took the last 3 days pretty easy spending our time exploring the local villages, flying around town in the tuk tuk taxis, and taking advantage of the hot tub and sauna.  G and I also had the pleasure of celebrating Mom’s birthday with her, although Dad did have the satisfaction of reminding me in front of her.  Classic Charlie Batten.

The lake is serene.  There is also plenty of  culture, hiking and boating to keep you busy.  We also heard rumors that you can kite board on the lake.

All and all, we had a great time with the parents.  And for all my worrying, they were troopers the entire trip.  Thanks mom + dad!

PS The submerged buildings in some of the shots are a result of the lake rising.  The lake is in a crater and doesn’t drain.  Each rainy season means the water level rises a little.  You’ll also notice a handful of shots from a local weaving collective.  All of the dyes they use are organic and made from local flora.



Kiting and Hot Springs in La Ventana

Five miles North of La Ventana there is a place known as the ‘hot springs’ beach.  There are hot springs that are right under the shore break.  At low tide you can dig a hole in the sand and you can get scolding hot water coming from the ground.  A week ago we went with our camping neighbors from Montreal (Tommy and Melisa) to the hot spring beach to build a jacuzzi of sorts on the sand.  We dug (more like found it) a big whole in the sand.  We put a big tarp in the whole and we filled it up with hot water from the springs.  The deal was that Tommy and I would be kiting while the girls fill the whole.  Didn’t happen exactly as advertised but at least we kited for a bit 🙂 …

Kitesurfing … or the lack of it …

Soo… no, I haven’t had any yet! Kiting I mean… I had a little panic attack 5 days ago driving around Yellowstone lake. The first winter storm for the season was coming in and it was the first day of it so the wind was still relatively warm. It was blowing 20 to 25 knots on the lake. The problem was there was no safe launch site and frankly I was a bit afraid given there was noooooobody but us around. We walked on a small beach to look for a good spot but the sand was littered with fresh bear tracks to which Teresa gave me the ‘you are insane if you think I will be waiting for your sorry ass’ look … Needless to say I did not kite!

Today I decided to look for kiting spot in Utah – our next destination. According to a blog post I found the best Kiting destination in Utah is apparently in Wyoming – Sulphur Creek Reservoir, WY. This place is on our way to Salt Lake so I am planning on making a little detour there. I guess I should run the idea past T first … :).


Anyhow, the wait long be long. We are flying to DC on October 16th and will drive to the Outer Banks, NC on October 22nd for 3 days of kiting. Fingers crossed the wind will cooperate 🙂