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Cascada San Ramon, Petroglyphs, and our initiation into the saddle club...

Bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8AM. Except Leah, for whom breakfast was a bit much...

Devastatingly enough, we had to be up and ready to go at 7:30AM for the San Ramon waterfall hike, which we begrudgingly achieved. We scoffed a mediocre breakfast while being swooped by hungry insects, dogs, and urracas. Then we wandered out to the foyer of the hotel to await our ride.

Leah, Kaleb, our guide Carlos, and me in front of San Ramon

Our guide packed us into the four wheel drive and got us on the road. We were heading to Volcan Maderas, which was where the waterfall was located. The trip out, which was about forty minutes, was fabulous—the sky was blue and clear, Concepción was smoking quietly and picturesque-ly in the distance, and there were a selection of rustic villages settled in the bright greenery with the requisite horses, cows, bullocks, pigs, and chickens scratching around on the side of, and sometimes the middle of, the road. There was a ute in front of us that kept stopping to collect people in their best clothes, who were heading out for the Sunday service at the local church. In the villages, the church and the school were always the two best kept buildings in the place. One of the small towns was a bustle of activity—they were celebrating their towns patron saint with a collection of horsemen and Toña beer tents and party dresses.

Dave in front of San Ramon

At the foot of the volcano we hit the Somoza family summer house and dock—now a hotel. We drove through the lands and farms and eventually hit the incredibly rough and bumpy four wheel drive path, taking us three kilometres up the volcano to the walking track. The track up to the waterfall was beautiful to walk; but I could see why we started so early. It was already really hot at nine o’clock. There were gorgeous trees, and flowers, and insect life, and we hit the river pretty quickly. It was a fun scramble up the rocks to the forty meter fall, and it was really very beautiful. More impressive even, the lay of the land—all the sides of the path we had walked had recently slid down, and the terrain had changed. There were trees hanging horizontally above our heads, which was a slightly nerve wracking experience!

Us paddling in the stream under the waterfall!

There had apparently been a huge landslide the week before, so we took an alternative path to see some other waterfalls and check out the mess. Our guide was really impressed, because the slide had taken out concrete, damming, and had completely changed the whole look of the place. It was pretty impressive and we were all thanking our lucky stars we weren’t there the week before... as the land was sliding.

All this wasn’t here last week...

On the way back, we ate our packed bimbo bread lunch, admired the greenery from the air-conditioned cabin of the 4WD, and nursed our sunburns. Back at the ranch (or cabaña, if you will) we relaxed on the lake beach and experimented further with the restaurant. While there, we encountered a couple of exuberant Aussie boys who were motorcycling down from the U.S. and enjoying themselves and their Flor de Caña immensely. They decided to hike Concepción the following day (12 hours up loose scree) and we decided to do some horse riding to see some petroglyphs. That night, Leah and I weighed up our complaints about the hotel room. Firstly, it smelled like urinal cakes. Second, Leah was covered in bites. And then... a gecko shat on my head. Which was pretty funny really. Well, there has to be some upside, and it continued the poo theme that was evolving around the holiday.

That tree looks... dangerous... growing out of the hill at a 90 degree angle like that.

The horse riding was far more civilised than the San Ramon waterfall tour in that it didn’t begin till ten. We met our guide, who took us over to the stables across the road and carefully selected some horses for us. He did an excellent job—he gave Dave, the only experienced horseman, the horse who wanted to run ALL THE TIME. Leah and I got very gentle little horses who kept trying to get ahead of each other, and Kaleb got a steady walker. We took the horses along the beach first, which was very romantic TV advertisement, and then took to the foot of Maderas. The path we took was absolutely lovely, through dappled trees and rocky paths, past farms with puppies and piglets and gorgeous butterflies. The horses were excellently well behaved, although mine had a hatred of mud so I ended up dropping the reigns and just letting it go where it felt comfortable—unless where it felt comfortable involved rubbing my up against barbed wire or running me under low branches.

Consumate horsemanship...

We arrived at a cafe with a lookout and the first few petroglyphs, which are believed to be at least 1500 years old and are really very cool. We also saw our first wild monkeys in the trees, hanging out and having a fine old time. Dave got some photos, and then one of them tried to urinate on his head so we got out of the way and moved the camera.


We headed to see more petroglyphs in a farmer’s front yard, and got a tour of his fruit trees, and, to Dave’s delight, his cows. The view and the butterflies were gorgeous, and after we’d walked around oohing and aahing we hopped back on the horses to get back. My horse galloped a little on the way back on the beach, which was terribly exciting and made me feel like I was going to die. But it was terribly exciting.

A petroglyph of a monkey and a lion. Or something.

When we got back we gushed our thanks to the man, because it was an awesome tour, and headed back to the room—to discover Leah had caught a tick from her horse! We got the hotel staff to remove it in case we didn’t do it properly, and those little buggers sure cling on! We spent the remainder of the day lounging about, eating, watching bad Spanish dubbed TV in air-conditioned comfort, and prepared for the following day... leaving Ometepe for the salty Pacific waters of San Juan Del Sur.

Dave’s favourite cow ever.

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