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Mar 28, 2018 | MatthewZem (Mali)

We had an amazing time at Hacienda Merida! It's a little paradise :) Super friendly staf, good food and an amazing place to be! I highly recommend to go on a horseback riding trip with Bismark. His horses are very healthy and trustable. He owes very good equipment and he cares a lot about his horses. He makes sure the horses get what they need and they are all in very good condition. They get enough food, water and a lot of attention. Bismark adjust the trip exactly to your riding experienc ... e. He is very friendly and explains things from the island while riding. I would recommend his tours to everybody; for the unexperienced rider and the experienced rider. Enjoy your stay on the beautiful island Ometepe!

Feb 12, 2018 | Nicky (The Netherlands)

I believe that my stays at Hacienda Merida and my time volunteering at Ometepe Bilingual School are making me a better global citizen.

I've been to Hacienda Merida and Ometepe Bilingual School several times--first as a guest/tourist and now as a volunteer and friend dedicated to supporting the mission, vision, and work of this sustainability system that is educating children, keeping plastic trash from polluting the island, and building a stronger community.

D ... uring your stay, be sure to talk to the founder and the school director. Visit the school to get a first hand view of the clever eco-brick construction. Take some time to walk through the community, greet neighbors, and understand what life is like in the area. Chat with the folks who work at the hotel and those who maintain the property.

Consider volunteering (see the Volunteer section on the website. Lots of opportunities both on site in Nicaragua and remote). Think about the impact of a donation to a school that relies on Hacienda Merida for kitchen and bathroom facilities, and for finances to support teacher salaries.

There is always something to do and learn at Ometepe Bilingual School and abundant nature to enjoy on the island. Hope to see you on one of my stays!

Jan 30, 2018 | Joanne Hala (USA)

Hola quisiera consultar acerca de la estadia. Si pueden contestar, gracias.

Jan 8, 2017 | cristian (nicaragua)

Estimado alvaro, te felicito por ese esfuerzo maravilloso para involucrarte en mejorar la vida de esa comnidad. La salvación de nuestro planeta esta en manos de jóvenes como tu. Soy ligia guillen valenzuela, nieta de Felipe valenzuela ,hermano de tu abuelita aurira, estudie junto con lilian en el colegio de la asuncion. Espero llegar algún día a visitar el hotel antes de morirme. Un abrazo.

Mar 29, 2016 | ligia guillen valenzuela (usa miami)

My wife and I stayed at Hacienda Merida a year or so ago. It is a beautiful and inspiring place, on Ometpe Island which is an Oasis of Peace. Hacienda Merida is devoted to working with the local community to promote conservation education, provide economic incentives to improve sustainability through the planting of local gardens and recycling, and offer children opportunities for bilingual education. The hotel restaurant has delicious food (the milk shakes were amazing and they bake their ow ... n bread), there is wireless internet, and opportunities to swim and canoe in Lake Nicaragua. From my bedroom I could hear howler monkeys calling in the early morning.

I would encourage all to visit this beautiful island.

Jun 16, 2013 | Paul Garber (USA)

spent a week here a few years ago (sorry for the late review!!!)best hotel/hostle I HAVE EVER STAYED IN !!went for a few days spent a week there . the owners could not do enough for you!!getting married next year strongly thinking of bringing the wife here .food activities value for money all unbeatable . I always look at the photos i have and have great memories of this place!!

Apr 12, 2012 | james mcpartland(ireland)

This was one of my favorite places to stay in Nicaragua! The owner was very friendly and knowledgeable of the region, and gave us easy directions to some of the highlights of my trip: a hike to a spectacular waterfall, a day-long kayak trip down the coast of the island to an amazing marsh, and a short kayak to two tiny islands with resident monkeys. The sunsets were beautiful, and the temperature was perfect on this side of the island (not so on the other side, where I sweated through the first ... night). Our room was gorgeous with fantastic views. Electricity is temperamental on the whole island, but that's just part of the adventure! I would absolutely stay here again.

Mar 29, 2012 | Kim Nichols (A wonderful experience!)

On behalf of the U.S. teachers, the film crew from New Hampshire Public TV and myself, I want to thank you, Esther, and your excellent staff again for making our stay at Hacienda Merida such a terrific experience, and for your invaluable assistance with the Bridging the Americas/Unidos por las Aves project. You so graciously met all our of needs during our stay there—the foreseen and the unforeseen-- oftentimes with little or no advance notice. Your generous help over the p ... ast 10 years has made it possible for 50 teachers and 3,000 students on Ometepe to participate in this program-- it wouldn't have been possible without you!
With gratitude,
Mary Deinlein, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Washington, DC

Mar 21, 2012 | Mary Deinlein (USA)

Hacienda Merida is beautiful and calm, we really enjoy it. The food was delicious and you can tell the kitchen is clean. They do their part for the environement and the community and you can see it.
The owner and the staff were really helpful with a passeport problem we had and we will always be greatful for everything they did for us.

Jun 8, 2011 | Cynthia & Simon (ND)

We had a group of 20 stay and were very satisfied by the rooms, food, and hospitality shown to us throughout our stay. It is worth the drive to stay here. We are already planning our next trip back.

Apr 15, 2011 | Douglas Roberts

Hi Alvaro,

Can you believe it? …..This is going to be the NINTH year in a row that teachers on Ometepe have been partnered with classes in the US as part of Unidos por las Aves. Kind of makes me feel like I must be getting old (!), but what a great thing to have kept this collaboration going for this many years. Thanks for making it possible.

In late December or early January, Susan Bradfield and I will send you the artwork, letters, etc created by about 17 class ... es here in the US. The breakdown is roughly 2 first grade classes, 8 second grade classes, 3 fourth grade classes, and 4 seventh grade classes. I'm wondering if you can tell us if any of the teachers on Ometepe who will be participating this time are new to the program or if they will have all participated previously. This will determine how many new teacher's manuals we send along with the materials created by the classes.



Nov 9, 2010 | Mary (United States)


I am very impressed by what it is your organization is trying to do in Nicaragua. It deserves a lot of respect. I might not be able to donate a lot, but I know that everything helps. Thank you.

Nov 9, 2010 | Johnny Sanchez (United States)

Dear Alvaro,

I am really impressed by the work you are doing for the people and nature, especially the youth of the Ometepe . Thanks for the spark of hope for the needy. My the lord Bles you and provide wisdom in your endeavor. We will visit you soon.

Cesar A Salcedo
NFO Nicaragua
The Gideons International

Psalms I

Oct 12, 2010 | Cesar A Salcedo (Nicaragua)

I just wanted to say thanks again for the great stay at Hacienda Merida last week. Corey and I both really enjoyed being there and were sad to leave. We particularly enjoyed talking with you and the young guys (tell them I said hi) who work at the Hacienda, about education, development, English, etc. We both have a lot of respect for the work being done there. Please keep us in mind as you work on new initiatives, especially educational ones (close to my heart). We'd love to hear how things ... are going and to help out when we are able!

Sep 1, 2010 | Seyward Darby (USA)

Hi Alvaro!

I don't know if I can still reach you on this e-mail adress, but I'll try!! I'm Anna from Sweden, who worked at your school in Merida in March 2008. I was there with my friend Sofia.

Hope everything is well with you. How are things in Hacienda Merida? Is the bilingual school still running? I had such a great experience working with the children, it was truly a life-changing experience.


Sep 6, 2009 | Anna (Sweden)

Hola Alvaro,
I met you a few weeks ago at Merida. My name is Paulette Sokolow
and I have been working all summer with Casa Xalteva in Granada.
Currently, I am back in the US, North Carolina, to return to my job
here teaching English to speakers of other languages. I thoroughly
enjoyed my time in Merida. I took a beautiful boat ride with Byron
and tutored some of your English students in the evening. Thank you
for the wonderful work you do t ... here!!

Aug 14, 2009 | Paulette (United States)

I stayed at Hacienda Merida for 2 weeks recently and I wish I never left. I volunteered at the bilingual school, teaching English to the local kids and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Just think, staying for two weeks on one of the most beautiful islands in the world while helping out and getting to know the local community. In between classes we hiked to the waterfall, went to Ojo de Agua, kayaked Rio Istian, went sailing and tubing with the students, and more. Hacienda Merida wa ... s in a perfect location on the island, the food there is amazing, and although you can of course stay without volunteering, I highly recommend it.

Aug 14, 2009 | Anca (USA)

More than 3 years ago, I stayed at Hacienda Merida for 1 week and had a great time.
Just now, I found your homepage and was really surprised what happened in the meantime, how big the hacienda is now and so on.
Hope to come back one day!!!
Saludos, Tina

Jul 15, 2009 | Tina (Germany)

Border run to Nicaragua!

We took a bus at about 3 AM Wednesday morning- the first one from San Jose. Unfortunately it was also the kind of bus without the padded seats, but I still managed to sleep most of the way to the border (though I had all kinds of bumps on my head when I woke up from the window!) After getting through the border miraculously, as you may have to ask 10 Nicas before you figure out what line you should be in and in what order, we took a crowded "chicken b ... us" to Granada, standing amongst many Nicaraguans for most of the ride. Granada was a beautiful city- the Spanish influence on the architecture is immediately evident, and we explored much of the city for an afternoon. Photos of Granada are further down.

These photos are of me water skiing on Lake Nicaragua. It is a very large like, almost comparable to one of the great lakes in the US. The Island that we travelled to, called "La Isla de Ometepe" or the Island of Two Volcanoes, is located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. On our last day on the Island, after having hiked and biked for three days straight and when my body felt like it couldn't take anymore, the owner of the Hacienda Merida, (hmerida.com) asked if anyone wanted to water ski behind his boat. He had just gotten brand new skis, and wanted to take some photos of someone water skiing for the hostel's brochures. So oh course I couldn't resist :) The owner, Alvaro, said that noone had ever skiied on Lake Nicaragua before- I don't know how much truth there is to this, but it would be pretty awesome to be able to say I was the first to waterski lake Nicaragua!

View Blog Entry

May 13, 2009 | Erica (United States)

Hello Alvaro,
I thought you might enjoy these pictures from the "art class" at your school. Though we were only able to help out at the school for a couple days, it made a big impact on our visit to the island and our trip to central america as a whole. Thank you for the opportunity. The children are so bright and what you have done with the school allows them to shine.
Thank you

Apr 1, 2009 | Annie Christie and Darren Gilmour (Canada)

We stopped by the Hacienda Merida for lunch one day while visiting Ometepe, and we really wished we could have stayed for longer. The place is absolutely beautiful, as is all of Ometepe, and our food was healthy and delicious (and came from a spotless-looking kitchen!). However, the thing that has made us determined to return for a much longer visit was meeting Alvaro, the owner. Alvaro is a walking inspiration - he has an incredible passion for helping the local community and environment, an ... d he clearly has a great talent for "thinking outside the box." His enthusiasm is infectious, and the place feels magical for it - we were there while a group of energetic local boys were taking an English class. Programs like those at Hacienda Merida are critically needed to enhance sustainable development in the area, to help protect the wildlife of this beautiful place, and to empower the local community to break the cycles of poverty. We left Hacienda Merida feeling great hope, because with people like Alvaro around all this seems possible.

Feb 4, 2009 | Emma and Jamie (Boston, USA)

Hola Alvaro,

Here is the proof that my 85 year old Granny made it all the way to San Ramon waterfall. We'll all remember the hike fondly. Unfortunately the picture is not a very good one. I did not take the picture so I don't know what happened.

Both my Granny, Nancy and my sister, Emma said that Merida was there favorite part of our trip to Nicaragua. Although my sister loved the markets in Masaya and Granada, she doesn't think that Merida could re ... ally ever be topped. She really is thinking about moving there and going to school. I'm not sure how serious she is at this point, but it definitely touched her. Would it actually be possible to arrange something? Anyway, I'm sure you'll see both of us and maybe the rest of our family sometime soon.

Thank you for creating such a great place on such an amazing island!


Jan 31, 2009 | Alice


From the boat we can see two canonical forms, one in each end of the island, one more silent, the other more active. Around the Concepción Volcano (1610m) one embracing white cloud makes its majestic more visible. There's something very mystic about this island. I bring in my hand a piece of paper from Hostel Hacienda Merida, I'm seduced by this pamphlet, the organic and vegetarian food available, the volunteer projects, ... the Spanish classes, the activities (riding horses, biking around the island, trekking, kayaking the lagoon, sailing). We catch the local bus – school buses from the United States – and we melt into the view in the window. The intense green, the majestic and aplomb form of Concepcion, the humble houses, the uniformed kids coming from school, the locals going around on bike, their smile always open and warm, the pigs on the streets and the horses grazing around. The bus stops in Merida at the door of Hacienda Merida and at the bottom of the Maderas Volcano (1394 m).
We follow along the entrance and the coconuts trees, the free and joyful singing of the birds. Near the entrance, in the wall of the dormitories, the precious rules of the house: silence from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am, and no illegal drugs. "Our home is your home", the familiar invitation, the aura of a ‘house' with a very unique spirit, so different from the stereotyped and conventional common hotel where we feel as a temporary guest. And in the open lobby of the community, between the coconut and banana trees, in the tranquil shores of the lake, the joy and the conviviality of the travelers that immediately makes them feel like residents of this ‘peculiar community'. The space is familiarly friendly, inviting and warm. The walls full of the most diverse activities, the daily menu, the buffets, the ecological and environmental advice. Three crates separate the garbage (cans, plastic and paper) and here nobody buys bottles of water because everyone refills their empty ones. A careful attention to Mother Earth. Immediately we became aware that here reigns a different spirit. Alvaro Molina, native of Estelí, mentor and manager, is one more inhabitant of this community, always interacting with the world that surrounds him. "Nuestra misión es educar" (our mission is to educate) he declares firmly, and that's why we hear everyday the local kids learning English with the volunteers that pass through. They smile curiously and happily, eager for learning and communication. Alvaro knows that the future of the island and the nation should be based on education, intercultural communication, exchange and sharing, the ecological and altruistic spirit. Alvaro himself has had a very interesting path: he lived in the United States and was a part of the restoration and conservation of La Suerte in Costa Rica where he established "La Suerte Biological Field Station", where you can attend courses connected with Costa Rican nature. With the stabilization of democracy in Nicaragua, Alvaro organizes an expedition to Ometepe Island and visualizes another biological station and in 1997 the first Primate Behavior and Ecology Class is taught. Nowadays, he manages and administers the biological field station at Ometepe, focusing on educational, social and ecological components.

In 2000 the opportunity appears to administrate the volcano Maderas as a natural reserve and Ometepe Foundation was born– a non-profit organization. Unfortunately, another company – Audubon – is in charge of the administration of the volcano but never carries out the project. There was a second attempt at administrating Maderas Natural Reserve and, together with the Ministry of Environment (MARENA) it was decided that Maderas Volcano will be converted into a National Park – a project still waiting for governmental seal of approval (!!!). Now the Ometepe Foundation dedicates itself to educational and social affairs of the island which don't depend on governmental permission. One of the Foundation's causes was activism against the Tilapia farming projects by a foreigner company NICANOR which would damage negatively the ecotourism and ecology of the island and Cocibolca Lake – considered the most important natural resource of the country. According to the statements of the island (Law n° 302) this is a natural reserve and cultural patrimony of the nation. The 8th article of the same law "forbids any activity that can destroy or threaten to destroy the natural and cultural resources of the island". The ecological, economic and aesthetics impact of this project would be very negative not only to the tourists and the islanders, but also for the whole nation. But unfortunately the project was approved, environmental studies ignored, and the Tilapia Farming runs along San Ramon shores.

In 2002 they remodeled an old abandoned coffee plantation, property of the former dictator Anastasio Somoza, and converted it into Hacienda Merida, a small hotel that's also the base of the Ometepe Foundation, and that's how any traveler or local can today actively participate in the dynamic and generative spirit that you can breathe in at this local venue. Here there's no differences or separations between people and cultures, but rather the harmonious communion and interaction, exchange and sharing, constant learning. The local kids improve their English daily and are eager to practice. We always see Alvaro going around to the tables, talking and sharing with each guest (feeling like being part of it all), curious with each life, each experience, each path. Because, at the end, nothing is independent or separated but interdependent and it's through exchange and sharing that we educate ourselves and grow, every minute, every moment.


La Suerte (Costa Rica) and Ometepe (Nicaragua) Biological Field Stations were established respectively in 1993 and 1997. Their vision was to protect the forested land and build a safe place for scientists to teach and do research, for students to have first hand experience with the environment they're studying and for volunteers to experience and actively participate in the ecological, social and community development. In today's world, of development and progress, tropical forests face the serious danger of extinction mostly due to economic interests. It's the human greed and blindness. So these stations are dedicated to promoting education and conservation of tropical forests through courses; field techniques on primatology and ecology; education, and promoting the protection and conservation of the tropical forests and the natural heritage of the planet; inventorying the local fauna and flora and archiving scientific research; development of ecological projects and protection of the land from deforestation, and eventually creating more field stations for preservation of fauna and flora throughout the country.

It is within the framework of this program that several volunteer projects arise such as teaching English to local children (grade school and high school), a ‘free English language school' at Hacienda Merida in which tourists can actively participate; the Sí a la Vida project which seeks out glue sniffers children from the Managua streets and tries to educate and reintegrate them again with their family and society; the CICO – Children's Community Centre – where you can participate with 1US$ for powdered milk, make a donation or make breakfast for the children; and the ‘World Leadership School' which tries to train young leaders through the direct and experiential contact with social, economic and third world context and reality, through altruistic service in some countries in Latin America and contact with local leaders.

The trekking to Maderas Volcano, arranged by Hacienda Merida and the accredited UGO guides (Ometepe Union of Guides) – is undoubtedly a unique and unforgettable experience, a truly harmonious contact with the enchanted forest and the wet womb of Mother Earth. We left the Hacienda around 8:30, reached the top at 13:30 and returned at 17:30. At the beginning the view of the fields of rice, tobacco, black and red beans, the tree fruits and the sound of Howler Monkeys at the top of the trees. It's not surprising that this area was chosen as a field for the study of primates and the innumerable birds that fly around, like the urracas we can watch along the way. We can also see butterflies of a thousand colors and different sizes, and the locals working on the land. As we climb the slope of Maderas, it's as if we were more into nature, its fauna and flora, its natural biodiversity. In each step nature becomes more humid, the trees covered with dew, the mystic fog. We climb grabbing the roots of the trees that spring from the wet ground, the mud in each we slip and the embracing chant of the chicharas on a fluid symphony. I can't stop feeling this volcano as the feminine energy emanation, passive, of water, of the womb, the arms and tenderness of mother earth; and Concepción Volcano with the masculine energy, active, of fire, the strength and dynamic activity of the father. Two opposing and complementary poles in the harmonious and pacific energy that we can breathe in at this island. The trip it's tough and tiring but invigorating, revitalizing, purifying and silent. But the most beautiful moments are those when we stop for a moment and allow ourselves to simply feel the magic of silence that emanates from nature…

I also had the opportunity of enjoying one day trip organized by Hacienda Merida for the north-American volunteers of the ‘World Leadership School'. We had a bike journey from Merida to Altagracia, passing the local villages, S. Domingo Beach, having lunch ate ‘Ojo de Agua' – a semi natural, semi artificial pool – and having dinner with the kid streets of the Sí a la Vida project. The cycling tour is engaging, from the church's songs to the fields of rice and beans, banana plantations in the shadow of Concepcion Volcano, the smile of the locals that pass by riding a bike or are working in the fields. The stop at the petroglyphs - some left more than 3.000 years ago -, the refreshing dive in the clear and transparent water of ‘Ojo de Agua', the visit to the Altagracia church and village and finally the contact and experience with Jonathan Roise –founder and manager of Sí a la Vida project – and its street kids with drugs, alcohol and social adjustment problems. Seated at the ‘ Casa José Maria', in the middle of the banana plantations, between the waters of the lake and the view of Concepcion, the kids make friendship bracelets and fix their bikes. Currently, there's 10 kids, with ages between 11 and 16 years old, caught in the Managua streets by the volunteers of the other center the ‘Casa Nuevo Amanecer'. "Our work begins in the streets", where they're given the choice of a different life. At the Managua Center – where they can stay from 3 to 6 months - we try to keep them out of the streets, explains Jonathan, adding that the two centers – Ometepe and Managua – are not orphanages but rehabilitation centers which aim to reeducate the children to change their lives and reintegrate them in their family and society. The aim is to socialize and provide them an education and training – most of the children are illiterate. When they decide that they want to learn they're sent to Ometepe Center where they can stay for a period from 3 months to 3, 4 years and enjoy of an accelerated primary education in Altagracia. The project focuses on reintegration into society and all its activities are oriented toward that: education, self sufficient, the support and psychological orientation to the environment surroundings and family situation, and a new interest for life. One of their favorite activities is making friendship bracelets that they sell at school, to local people, to tourists, to the United States, and with the profit they help in the educational expenses.

"Since the founding of Sí a la Vida in 1994, more than 1,000 boys and young men have benefited from the program, including more than 200 who "graduated" from the program, either returning to their families or otherwise establishing a life off the streets", in Sí a la Vida Newsletter, Fall 2007
"Approximately 75% of the boys stable enough to transfer from Managua to Ometepe "graduate" from Sí a la Vida, return to society and their families, and move forward with their lives, equipped with a new consciousness and an education", in Sí a la Vida Newsletter, Fall 2007

It's very touching to hear the kids telling their stories, of how they were found and given the opportunity of a better life, the familiar antecedents, drugs, alcohol, violence, the games, the dreams and ambitions that they have today, the goals and the light that now shines in every look and reflects itself in the joy and contentment of Jonathan. The kids dance the local dances, Lester shows his malabarismo with three balls, the promptitude to eat the vegetarian food prepared by the Hacienda Merida staff, the curiosity and spontaneity with which they interact, eager of contact and human warmth. And basically, it's them who teach and transmit us an innocence and will to live that was never lost. It is a wonderful and indescribable opportunity to have the chance to meet this project and this kids so full of life and force, and it's simply wonderful to feel and to be part of the interpedently existence, the way as people help each other in the altruistic spirit of the other and the inner growth of the being.
Welcome to the Hacienda Merida community…

Dec 3, 2008 | Maria Joao Frade (Portugal)

Day 1: After being inspired by an account of another's journey around Volcan Maderas we decided to make use of our trusty backpacks and follow the path on foot. We walked through San Ramon, past a baseball game and a church filled with many voices raised in song. The sounds of a Sunday! Then we wandered through Tichano and San Pedro where we were greeted by many laughing children playing around and enjoying their time off from school. We took some time to play with a few of them on som ... e monkey bars near the lake and took a few pictures as well which the kids thought were hysterical. Near San Pedro we saw a spot right on the lake that would be perfect to pitch a tent, but as we were sure that there would be more such spots we continued on. Well is often the case with such things the road turned inward soon after.

We passed through La Palma, a beautiful town of many gardens and colors. On our way out of town we were followed by what seemed like a hundred butterflies. Or perhaps we were following them. By this point we had been walking for about six hours and were starting to feel it but we were determined to find the lake again and so we pressed on. About an hour later the road started to descend and our pace quickened in excitement. At the bottom of the hill was a dirt path that on closer inspection led straight to the lake and a perfect little beach with an amazing view of Volcan Conception. Mike dubbed this slice of heaven "Starlight Beach". Needless to say we immediately jumped in the lake. After a simple dinner of tuna, lime, and crackers and a small fire we said goodnight under the stars.

Day 2: We woke up refreshed and ready to resume our journey. An hour's walk brought us to Balgue where we stopped for some cold water and some amazing fresh cantaloupe juice. We walked for another 45 min and stopped for the at El Zopilote, and organic farm between Balgue and Santa Cruz. had a very peaceful day and night relaxing.

Day 3: Back to Hacienda Merida! A short 6 KM walk brought us back to where we started ready for the cool breezes and beautiful sunsets of the west end of the island.

Notes: We did the bulk of our hiking on the first day which was fine but it would have been easier to spread the distances out between the days a bit more(4 hours a day for three days). Also if you not determined to camp on the lake as we were there are several very inviting looking fields on the southern tip of the island. There are several small pulperias scattered about(often just a window in someone's house) so if you need to resupply snacks or water you are covered! The people we encountered were very friendly and interested in where we were going. If they thought we were crazy they very kindly kept that to themselves!

Happy Travels!
Amelia and Mike

Jan 11, 2009 | Amelia Vaughan (USA)

Although we didn't stay at the hotel, we spent most of our time at Hacienda Merida. The kayaks and bikes enabled many of our adventures. We kayaked to the Rio Istian and Monkey Island; this is easily worth the $15 unlimited use of kayaks. Rio Istian is especially beautiful; it is essentially a swampland filled with wildlife. If it hadn't started pouring, we could have spent hours exploring this magical place.

We also biked up to the petroglyphs at El Porvenir, to Santa Domingo bea ... ch where there is access to a hike through lowland dry tropical forest, and finally up to Ojo de Agua. The petroglyphs are mysterious historical traces that left us wondering about ancient cultures, while the Santa Domingo beach was a great place to relax on the black sand and cool off in the water. The hike through the forest was stunning; as we walked, we strained our necks looking to find the birds that were calling in the canopy above us and admired the massive, old trees with leaves that catch the sunlight. Ojo de Agua, or the Water Eye, is a pristine swimming hole, contained by concrete, but with water from a stream and sand and rocks on the bottom of the pool. After a day of riding a bike on a rocky, hilled road, the swim there was very refreshing.

We also took a sailing tour to Charco Verde. It was quite soothing to just sit on the rocking boat and to take a leisurely stroll in the reserve after a couple of days of intense physical activity.

We ate most of our meals at the Hacienda Merida as well. I'm a vegetarian and love health food and my boyfriend is a devout meat-eater, yet we both loved the food. The buffet is especially excellent, as you can take a sampling of many different dishes.
The Hacienda Merida is a great place to use as a central point of your stay in Ometepe. The proprietor, Alvaro Molina, is passionate about many subjects and is eager to talk to you about the many issues facing Nicaragua and what he is doing to try to improve the situation. Once we heard about his mission and his projects, we were excited to get involved, however we didn't have much time. We hopefully have helped by writing and expanding some sections of this website. Improving communication with the rest of the world is crucial to expanding interest and concern for this beautiful country.

Jan 11, 2009 | Hannah Marsh and Bruce Phillips (Canada)

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