Sunset over Lake Nicaragua
Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
I walked down the steep hill from La Omaja Hotel, across the very rough dirt road that circumvents the Maderas Volcano on the southern part of Ometepe Island, and onto an empty 15 meter concrete dock extending into Lake Nicaragua. Some scrawny mutts stood off to either side of the dock, yapping and growling at the new intruder and three kids playing in the water paused to stare at me before giving me big smiles and waving as they ran back up to the road and disappeared into the village. The sun was still forty-five minutes from setting and the orange glow bouncing off the lake to the west was a magnificent bright-orange, the ideal representation of the golden hour. It smelled of cooking fires, I could hear some kids playing in the village behind me and looking north through a black cloud of gnats and mosquitoes at the cone-shaped Volcun Concepcion, the shoreline was dotted with fisherman wading up to their wastes and throwing nets into the water. With the water lapping against the shore, it was truly peaceful. At least in between the incessant barking.
I was sitting on the edge of the dock when I heard a growl; A deep growl that was different than those of the dogs with Napoleon Complex. I turned around, but didn’t see anything new so I ignored it. It came again, this time with a sort of heckle as well. Turning around again, I noticed the barking dogs were no longer concentrating on me, but staring up into the trees back at the base of the dock. I walked back towards them as two young girls in white school uniforms walked up the road and paused to stare up at the tree as well. I walked over, smiled, and looked up to find seven howler monkeys staring back down at me, giving me glares that made me feel like I was invading their territory. All of a sudden, after sizing me up, they lost interest and moved higher into the trees while eating some kind of fruit off the limbs. Most of them were more or less obscured by the tree thick leaves and the sky was starting to get really colorful so I went back to my perch at the end of the dock to watch sunset.
As I was packing up my camera, I abruptly heard a big splash in the lake behind me and once again turned around startled to find two horses walking into the lake. I watched them drink for a moment, unaware of my existence, before stepping back out and quietly wandering back up the road into the dark village.
I had read the Ometepe Island was known as an “Oasis of Peace.” Despite the unexpected visitors I encountered, I’ll agree to that.