Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Origin of Ometepe

Concepcion seen from Maderas with banana tree leaves in the foreground.

The island of Ometepe is about an hour ferry ride from where I live. It’s still incredible to me that I can stay on a tropical island for an overnight trip to celebrate my birthday.

The island is made of up two volcanoes, Concepcion (active) and Maderas (extinct or retired or something like that). I stayed at a hostel on the Maderas side this last weekend. I often forget about Maderas in my thrill of Concepcion. It isn’t as tall, or exciting, but the lush forests lap up its sides and the clouds catch at its peak.

Clockwise starting from top left: Sign on the main (dirt) road leading from the town of Belgue up to Finca Magdalena, local Nicaraguan women walking from the finca to town (yes, I do believe that's a log on her head), flower in the finca garden, looking up at Maderas from the finca.

There are many legends to the origin of Ometepe Island. And the artifacts and petroglyphs which are continually being found and studied (although funds for this research is sorely lacking) speak to the generations of ancient people that used the island’s resources.

One legend describes a king and queen of an ancient Nicaraguan city who have twins, a boy and girl. The twins transform themselves to become two volcanoes to protect the town of their parents. But their mother doesn’t know where they have gone and is desperate for her missing son and daughter. She turns herself into a bird so that she can fly long distances looking for her children, but doesn’t find them. Her tears are so abundant that they form a lake around the volcanoes, Lake Nicaragua.

Maderas from Concepcion

Geologically speaking, the volcanoes are part of a long chain that extends up through the northern portion of Nicaragua and into other central American countries. Both volcanoes were formed during the Holocene Epoch and Concepcion is considered the most perfect cone volcano in Central America. The volcanic ash (and lack of recent activity) makes Maderas an ideal place to farm and it is covered with coffee and banana plantations.

View of Concepcion as we leave on the ferry.

Friends recently (as in half an hour ago) told me that there was an article in the Seattle Times about Ometepe last weekend. If you don't have a copy, here's the link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear adventure tourist. Happy birthday to you.