Robert Burns Day, or close enough, and not entirely coincidentally, our 15th anniversary. (Yes, yes, the actual wedding wasn't until March 21, 1994, but we figure 15 years together deserves a nod.) We've just returned from four days over on Omotepe Island, the closest thing Nicaragua has to Paradise. Open any guidebook to this country and I guarantee there will be more pages devoted to Omotepe than almost any other, much larger region. The island (8,624 mts. sq.—don't ask me what that is in acres) consists of two rather imposing volcanoes, Concepción (4900 ft) and Madera (4300 ft), the former of which is still active. Surrounding these are roughly 41,000 people, mainly engaged in farming, fishing, and recently, tourism. Although it's easy to arrange tours through the various hotels and resorts (yes, resorts), Pat & I chose to bring our "new" bikes over on the ferry and see the island that way. There are roads ringing each of the volcanoes, one paved for about 30 of its 43 miles, the other not at all, which when combined with regularly occurring hills, made for some challenging moments, both up & down. The complete lack of springs or any sort of suspension on the bikes (and more pointedly, on Pat's seat—I'm sure the men get my drift) has us seriously considering investing in real bikes should we stay here.
We decided to make the trip over there (an hour on the ferry, $2.50 pp) now, before we got too busy with the house. Pat is already exhibiting signs of restlessness, so I expect the project will begin soon. Today, actually, he and Edwin began taking measurements and making plans, so perhaps in a week or so the work will commence. (Edwin, in case you might be wondering, is a local builder and rapidly becoming good friend, along with his impossible to photograph wife, Reyna, and their two relentlessly adorable daughters, Rosita & Milagro. Oh, and the dog, Scott, named for the brand of toilet paper.)
Our trip to the beach last week ended up involving not only us and Edwin's family, but five other neighborhood kids as well. I'd hit ebay before leaving and picked up a bunch of those arm band floaty things to keep wee'uns from sinking like stones, as well as a deluxe pool raft and, the star of the show, a 5' inflatable shark. The latter a nod to the oft heard of but seldom actually seen sharks of Lake Nicaragua. The kids had a blast, hardly fighting at all over the shark and raft, and no one managed to drown—always a bonus on beach trips. It may be a lake, but when the winds are hard from the SE, the waves are substantial, making bodysurfing possible and even exciting. Forget actual swimming on days like that—even paralleling the shore becomes a challenge. Pat, Edwin, and Emer, one of the teens, took off down the beach to raid a neighboring gringo's orange trees, returning with t-shirtfuls of the bright green, incredibly juicy citrus.
We've learned our way around fairly well, and become more adept at cycling through the busy streets. Our blood is thinning (as are our bodies), and even the mosquitoes have eased off a bit. After a good scrubbing, the rental house has remained mostly beastie-free and now is at least as clean as our house in Alaska (although if you know us, that's setting the bar pretty low….). We miss the cat & dogs, although Pat has already won the heart of Reynaldo's bony, aged, pathologically timid dog, named, of course, Rocky Balboa. (Oh, Reynaldo is Edwin's father and this is his house we're in. He's staying in a cabana next door, and we're sharing the kitchen.) Last night the same kitten appeared in two of my dreams, so perhaps…