Ometepe: A Land of Wonder

                                                                             October 27, 2010           4:58 pm

We've just caught the ferry from Ometempe and we are headed towards the mainland of Nicaragua.  From atop the ferry, two breath taking views battle to captivate our senses: on one side we have the volcanic island of Ometepe located in the heart of Lake Nicaragua; on the other, the setting sun, lighting the sky with warm colors of orange and pink, like fresh brush strokes from the hands of an abstract artist.  The two volanoes that make up the island, Conception and Maderas, are often depicted as the breasts of a woman--pressumably Mother Nature who nourishes the land and the people.
For 1,000's of years the indigenous poeple of the island have sustained themselves fully with the harvests of their crops and products of their farm animals.  They depend heavily on the proper weather conditions to optimize the yield each year and it seems  suiting to have this mythological reference associated with the fertile land of Ometepe.   It is quite beautiful, as is the entirity of this small world, a land of magic.  A place filled with natural oppositions, covered with life and death, a land so vibrant, so simple, yet so complex.  It's hard to imagine a place I would have rather spent the last 12 days.  We dedicated 9 of these days to volunteering on an organic, self-sustaining farm (Bona Fide Finca).  It was hard work, loaded with blisters and burns, bug bites and plant stings--but incredibly rewarding.  Consuming the fresh fruits that one's labor bears with the most wholesome, home cooked meals 3 x's a day will brighten up your life considerably.  !Que rico!

Up the mountain and through the woods to Bona Fide Finca I'll take you.  After a 45 minute walk from our first accomodations in Ometepe, we finally stumbled up the long, uneven, rock covered path to the Finca and were greeted by some of the most amazing people, filled with heart and warmth.  We were invited in with such hospitality, Camila offered the biggest smile from ear to ear during our entire initial meeting.  She sliced us up fresh fruits: the world's sweetest, juiciest star fruit; flavorful, perfectly ripe bananas; and our first taste of fresh Guayaba (Guava).  Then she guided us around and showed us the farm, "It's an experiemental project on self sustainablity..." she explained as we walked through various types of strategically planted, edible vegetation.  The farm produces over 100 species of fruits! After the tour we knew that we had found this opportunity for a reason, and embraced it with anticipation.  We moved up the next day to start our adventure. 

It was a learning experience.  We did lots of chopping with machetes, planting in the fields, trimming of bamboo, harvesting peppers, cooking, and working in the nursery.  My favorite was when we baked an organic dark-chocolate cake from fresh, raw cacao beans.  We started by cooking the beans until they were charred on the exterior.  Then we had to shell them, grind them by hand, and sautee them with sugar until they reached the desired cacao potentcy.  It´s making me salivate to even talk about it.  After baking it in the clay oven with burning fire wood, we topped it with peanut butter, banana, chocolate icing.  The cake was so rich and bursting with delicousness.  Hard to top that sort of nourishment.  Overall, the experience on the farm was incredible.  We learned so much about argiculture and sustainability and finished each day with a sense of accomplishment.

I feel super grateful to have had the experience in the land of wonder, but as it came time round it up, it felt right to head to the coast and relax, to celebrate and rejuvenate.  Life has been beautiful and its beauty and awe continues to impress me more each day.

Sending immense quantities of love back home...