away we went! off to las isletas, the name given to the archipelago of hundreds of small islands formed many thousands of years ago when vulcan mombacho blew her top. there is a volcanic chain that runs through the lake, and in fact several volcanoes rise directly from her waters a few hours southeast of granada.
the lake is massive and looks more like the sea than a fresh water lake. when i saw the size of the waves and the choppy water i was certain julio was going to suggest we return on another day, but he didn’t. instead he said, “let’s do this!”
as i have this personality trait of acting much more brazen and confident in front of people i don’t know well, i said, “i’m ready!” but actually, as i watched the waves breaking over the long dock we had to walk down to board the boat, i was feeling much much less than brave. had my sister been with me i would have insisted we come back another day, but alas i was alone, so i put on my big girl pants and followed julio out onto the dock. in my mind i was saying, “ohshitohshitohshitohshit.”
a slim young man who couldn’t have been more than 16, dragged one of the lanchas over from where it was bobbing up and down in the surf. he had some difficulty getting it next to the dock, but another much older, much larger fellow pulled it close then indicated that i was to board. the young boy held out his hand and i grabbed it and stepped down into the boat. i stumbled to my seat laughing in a nervous sort of way.
away we went straight into the big waves. i frantically started rooting around in my purse for the motion sickness wristband i had placed in there at the start of the trip for just such an emergency. i strapped it on and put it on 5 – the highest setting. the electric shocks it delivered to my wrist were comforting because i knew they would prevent me from getting nauseous. as a point of comparison, when i was in guatemala on the winding road from antigua to lago de atitlan the highest setting i used was a 3.
julio asked me several times if i was okay so i must not have looked as brave as i imagined. every few minutes i let out a loud rumbling laugh accompanied by either, “oh boy!” or “weeeeeeee!”
after 15 minutes or so we reached las isletas and the water calmed considerably.
i wish i could describe the air temperature, but i’m afraid words fall short here. after walking around each day i return to the casa hot and sweaty, but in the shade of a courtyard, or on the boat like today, the warm tropical air feels delicious. even when the temperature is supposed to be 85 the breezes that constantly blow feel so good!
this has been the biggest surprise and delight of my trip – the feel of the air on my skin. i was so certain the heat would be sweltering and that i would experience a long continual hot flash. but no. NO. how wrong i was! although i would venture, that in the rainy season it is surely more humid and sticky.
most of the inhabited isletas are surrounded by little sea walls. some of the larger ones have luxurious eco lodges. i saw a few sale signs. it is possible to purchase an island of one’s own and they come in all price ranges.
many of the nicer homes are owned by either wealthy nicaraguans or expats. around 1200 people live on the islands in total. that includes some much poorer residents that live in tiny houses made of scrap metal.
there is a small colony of spider monkeys living on “monkey island.” we pulled close so i could get a few pictures, but i’m afraid the monkeys are a bit too fast for my lens. this fellow jumped onto someone’s boat whether out of curiosity or hoping for a treat, i don’t know. many people bring food for the monkeys, but we had none so i contented myself with a photo. although spider monkeys are indigenous to nicaragua, they usually live in the canopy of the rainforest not on islands. i felt a bit sorry for them trapped on the small island, but they’ve been here for awhile and appear to have adapted to island life. one thing is certain they do not go hungry!
a favorite sight, that brought back many memories of growing up in the canal zone of panama, were the oriole nests. i remember being fascinated with them as a child. there are hundreds of species of birds living on las isletas including herons, egrets, cormorants and many more. i spotted some spectacular birds with enormous wing spans, but failed to capture them with my camera. there are bird-watching trips that can be arranged very inexpensively. more adventurous types can even kayak or canoe around the islands. as for me, i’ll stick to the motorized lancha with the kid captain.
on the way back to shore i spotted the golden catedral de granada.
disembarking was a bit more adventurous as the much older, much larger fellow from before (the heffe of the operation i’m sure) boarded another boat midway across the choppy lake! both julio and i agreed we would not be attempting that maneuver anytime soon.
i hope you’re enjoying christmas eve wherever you are in the world. i’ll just be here soaking up the atmosphere of granada and enjoying my romps through the streets.
see you soon!