F O R W A R D S
A hipster guy in Granada had a hipster Ometepe sticker on his Mac and so I decided to go. Apart from hipster vibes, I wasn't really sure what to expect from the volcano island located in the biggest lake in Central America.
Two or three main roads lead through the main village Mayogalpa. As I walked with my backpack on the shoulder, I passed a couple of cute cottages and eventually I made it to Hostal Central. I sat down to order some cold water and turned on the Wifi when a local stopped by my table to chat. Turned out he was a tour guide and without further ado I secured a 15$ hike up to the volcano for the next day.
At 6am small breakfast place next door was already serving in the early hours whereas the rest of the village was still sleeping. The roads were empty, windows were closed and only the occasional homeless dog was wandering around. I ordered coffee and a large bowl of fruit salad then turned my face towards the hot morning sun, sitting on the counter observing the silence. It was a magical perfect morning, everything was happening for the very first time.
Clearly the blissful moment wasn’t supposed to last forever, back at the hostel I found myself worrying for 30 minutes why my tour guide didn’t show up at the agreed time. We only talked briefly the day before and in all honesty, I had actually forgotten what his face looked like! There was a local guy lingering around the bar who gave me the occasional shy smile, leaving me in confusion if it was my guide or not.
Eventually my tour guide walked in with a huge smile and bursting of joy and energy. I was so grateful that my hike was still on, grabbed my bag and so we walked down the street. He reminded me of his name, Francesco, and confessed that he needed his coffee first and I found it so funny how we are all the same here on earth. Afterwards he called a friend who drove us up to the national park with his tuk tuk. I signed into the visitor book, got a green bracelet with the words Volcan Conception and off we went.
Ten minutes later, I was already feeling that today's mission would not be an equivalent to a relaxed day at the pool. My body was getting ready to serve as a transport mechanism to the top, as well as an evaporator. Slowly but surely I was covered in a nice little film of moist, my natural AC. The path lead along a field of horses and the morning sun was reflecting upon a foal. Their barely existing body fat was potentially a result from living so close under the sun, namely that it demands extremes from their organism. Even though the horses grazed at their own paste in a green rainforest, the heat seemed to outweigh the nutritional input as reason for low body fat. Maybe this was a first indicator that I should be warned about the upcoming hardships of the next few hours to come.
We bumped into two guys who were hanging out in the shade of a small cottage. It seemed as if we just interrupted their moment of silence or maybe the silence was projected from my own being which came to a halt. I spotted a parrot sitting at the fence and one guy stated it would belong to him, always returning but flying around freely. That's how relationships should look like! Who needs a cage anyway? Francesco gave the bird some bread and the typical exchange characterized in so many relationships became apparent. The bird gets some nutritional pleasures and the guy from the cottage gets to experience the wonders of the bird. The trust between the two was so strong that the bird was allowing to be held by the man's hand.
We kept walking and reached an enormous tree a few minutes later. He explained that it was the national tree of Costa Rica and I could see why people attributed a certain kind of magic to it. It was growing upwards then sideways, offering me to rest right on one of its branches. From Francesco’s perspective it must have been a last bit of mercy towards me as shortly after we reached the real path up the volcano. From then on, it was literally going just straight up an immense mountain through the middle of a rainforest. All I could do was set one step onto the next. I felt so grateful to be alone with Francesco so I could stop to catch the air every now and then. Never before had I experienced such a power coming from my very breath.
An eternity later, Francesco paused and pointed towards the top of the trees: Monkeys! Real monkeys in their own habitat! A very special moment for my small little Western mind. You never see these animals in forest back home and the only bigger animals which are free in nature seem to be rabbits or deer, maybe squirrels. I learned that there are two sort of monkeys living at the volcano. The howling monkey and the white face monkey. It was so funny how one monkey started howling when Francesco imitated their sound. Quite amazing to look back down the hill into the valley and hear the monkeys responding. I was enchanted to experience one of the last untouched places on earth.
The hike up to the first base of the volcano should last around 3-4 hours. I had gotten into a trance mode, always and again pushing one step in front of the next! I wondered about the symbolism, being a Capricorn Rising my life is characterized by putting one step in front of the other, climbing the ladder of time. Right here and now, I was experiencing the literal sense of the word climbing.
As we reached our final destination for the day, we made it to the end of the rainforest. We were up in the clouds. Would I subtract 20 years from my age, I would probably say I was up in heaven. Part of me was speechless, another part was standing there wondering about the true magic? All these exhaustions for the past hours had occurred for this very moment. Or? What does it mean to climb a mountain? Why do we climb in the first place?
You have an initial idea or dream or big aim which you look at in wonder. You feel the awe and then some sort of magic kicks in which enables you to shoot for it. As if the arrow was shooting from the bow. So then you should know what you're after. Always remember your dream because as you go after it, you will climb the mountain and it will bring you to extremes, testing the strength of your dream. It will be tough and you may want to give up, just as I was standing in the rainforest 2 hours uphill. I was lucky that I had my guide Francesco on my side who was challenging me to stick to the dream. We are not always so lucky though, to have guides on our side who know the way because usually our dreams are extremely personal and nobody has ever walked the path before. My guide taught me to enjoy the journey upwards. Clearly I was not a total retard who doesn't see the magic of the rainforest but Francesco saw more. His eyes were trained and I realized that it might be good to work on training my very eyes for the pleasures of the journey.
My eyes were seeing white clouds surrounding me and the vegetation had gone from the huge variety of the rainforest to small little bushes. My ears heard nothing but tranquility. My body felt the reward of coolness of the height. My nose was breathing the clearest air. It was all very calm and it felt like I had made it to the next level reminding me of the feeling when playing Mario on the Nintendo as a child. Most importantly, it felt like I earned so many points from within and from nature. This experience had shown me my own capabilities and I was thankful my feet were healthy enough to have carried me here.
Ometepe was truly magical, maybe hipsters are people who see magic. Whenever I am unsure which step to take next, I take myself back to floating in the diamond like water of the natural hot springs where Francesco and I went to after our hike. The sun dances around my eyes through the curtains of some tropical trees, reminding me how rewarding life can be.