The ferry docked in Moyogalpa, the largest city on Isla Ometepe. It was a bustling, early afternoon, and locals swarmed the motion sick passengers with promises of treats, taxis, and tours. Meredith and I sternly held our bags and made our way quickly to the taxi we set up earlier in the day, and picked out another “Welcome Mr. Andy” sign held by the driver. The ride from Moyogalpa to the Santo Domingo area took nearly 40 minutes. We had no lodging plans other than a thought to stay at El Zopilote, an eco farm hostel experience. Our taxi driver gave us his card and left us at the driveway entrance to the Hostel. As we approached what appeared to be the main office, a short haired, blond woman met us halfway. The woman was slightly taller than me and wore blue jean overalls. Her appearance was that of someone who showered infrequently, yet I reserved my judgment until she spoke. It was immediately clear that she did speak and understood English, however she refused and would only converse in Spanish. After several awkward silences and weird vibes, we came to the conclusion that not only was there no room at the inn, but our welcome was short lived. She told us to go across the street where we might find a room at Jardin del Buho (boo-o) or Garden of the Owl.


Start/Finish line at Playo Santo Domingo

There was no signage to the garden, and we were starting to feel slight desperation as we realized it was nearly four in the afternoon and sunset comes quickly at 12 degrees latitude. Using our combined intuition, we started down a long, tree covered dirt road that 7 minutes later led to an ascending stair case. At the top of the stairs was a small structure and a man who greeted us in in Spanish. Never introducing himself, he inquired about why we were there. His long ponytail, coke bottle glasses and dirty yellow t-shirt were uncharacteristic of our initial impressions of the local population and he was most certainly higher than a kite. Meredith told the  man we were looking for a room and we were led to a bunk room with three small bunk beds and a very eerie vibe. Meredith and I started discussing our options and decided to decline his offer and make our way 2.3 miles back to Playa Santo Domingo where the race start/finish line was set and try our luck there.

The distance felt daunting with 40 lbs of gear in tow and a hilly, 45 minute walk ahead. Before setting off, I stopped Mere and asked her to pray that God come alongside us and lead our way. The moment generated comfort and replaced our spiking anxieties. We were on the road for a few minutes when we heard the diesel roar of an approaching bus. I turned to see a rainbow colored, American school bus barreling along. I threw my arms up in desperation and the bus came up alongside us. A man leaned out of a door near the rear of the bus and scooped us in quickly; I don’t think the bus actually ever fully stopped. The money man of the bus, the one who scooped us in, asked where we were going. Mere mentioned that we’re looking for a place to stay at Playa Santo Domingo and with confidence, told us not to worry, he’ll tell us where to get out.  A few minutes later, the man whistled to the driver and nudged us off the bus. We were standing in front of Buena Vista Hotel. A small, multi-structure lodge on the beach. Walking into the courtyard near the check in desk, I was struck by the welcoming courtyard, adorned with hammocks, Adirondack chairs and the view.IMG_4881


Gato amigo

The woman at the desk was friendly enough and informed us that there was room there. As we were being led to our multi, twin bed room, the hostess said, “You’re lucky. The bus only comes twice a day.” We made friends with the cat of the house and settled in.


Lovely accommodations