Thursday night, four of the volunteers decided that we needed a field trip: Matt from CO and Pepperdine, Heather from CA and USC, Allison from Houston and USC, and myself. With the help of a Nicaraguan guidebook, we chose La Isla de Ometepe – a double-volcanoed, figure-eight island on Lake Nicaragua, the largest body of freshwater in the Americas (I think). Our plan was to hike the smaller and least active of Ometepe’s volcanoes, an eight-hour trek that would take most of Saturday. Friday morning we asked Eddie (PA, CT College) if he wanted to come along. He had four seconds to decide and about four minutes to pack, but he came, and earned the immediate respect of every wanna-be-hardcore-male (like myself) in the house.
That same Friday morning, I woke with an immediate realization that my bowels and I were apparently going to have a few disagreements about my choice of summer destinations. My very male – but very weak – instinct not to give up eventually compromised with my body’s pleas for proximity to plumbing: I went, but decided not to climb. By minibus, taxi, schoolbus and ferry, our crew made it to Ometepe, where both Matt and Heather ended up on the DL with me. Allison decided to play nurse, leaving Eddie the only member of our expedition to climb the Maderas volcano. He went with a guide (required by law since two Americans died climbing last December) and alongside Evan, another occasional Manna volunteer who happened to be vacationing on Ometepe.
While Eddie climbed, the rest of us spent two days dozing in hammocks, eating Nicaraguan food, reading, riding horses into the coffee fields, watching clouds meander past the volcano peaks, making friends with other travelers, including a dread-locked, tattooed Italian named Ilaria who kindly let me borrow her pants for horseback-riding. I’m pretty sore now, so apparently they didn’t work too well.
Spanish is going well, however. I had a conversation about Costa Rican v. Nicaraguan Spanish, baseball (beisbol), and tourism on Omepete with Jorbin the bus driver, and learned all sorts of colorful Nicaraguan words. I think it will be funny when I get to class in the fall and my Spanish teacher gasps in horror at the quality of the Spanish that I’m learning in Nicaragua. I imagine it’ll be akin to learning English in Acadiana and then taking a class in London. Which I just might do, right?