Video: Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Happy New Year! It’s been a few weeks since I managed to get to a reliable enough internet connection to update our blog, but fear not, I’m now back in civilization and catching up!

Isla de Ometepe is Nicaragua’s fantasy island, formed by twin volcanoes rising out of Lago de Nicaragua (Lake Nicaragua). Lago de Nicaragua is a HUGE lake – 177km long by 58km wide – and looking out across it is more reminiscent of gazing out to sea than an inland lake.

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

I made my way here on an extremely rough four hour boat trip from Granada, during which time I miraculously managed to avoid chucking my guts up. For anyone else trying to get to Isla de Ometepe, I’d definitely recommend the easy route via San Jorge.

Having braved the extremely broken-up roads around the island, I ended up with a cheap $5 room at Santa Cruz, just past Playa Santa Domingo and at the foot of the Maderas volcano. I soon realized that on Isla de Ometepe I was in a wonderfully unspoiled & friendly place – perfect for walking, relaxation and simply contemplating. Some of the activities possible here include hiking the volcanoes, horse-riding & swimming. We ended up doing very little here except for wandering around the island, and climbing half way up Volcan Maderas – one of the most memorable walks I have done in a long time. During a five hour walk I met one farmer, some monkeys and no tourists.

It was hard to drag myself away from Isla de Ometepe, but the nearby beaches & surf of San Juan del Sur beckoned.


Our podcast from Isla de Ometepe and San Juan del Sur

Podcast: Granada & León, Nicaragua

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Join us on an audio tour of Granada, with sounds of the market, Lago de Nicaragua and a street parade and band. We round off this podcast with a bit of Nicaraguan history and some thoughts on the highlights of both Granada & Leon in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua podcast

Podcast: Story of a Guatemalan War Victim (in Spanish)

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Filipe and Rosa were wonderful hosts whilst studying in San Pedro, Guatemala. Although I wasn’t strictly doing a home-stay with them, as I ate two meals a day at their house, they soon felt like family.

Podcast story of a Guatemalan war victim

After a few weeks I asked Filipe if he would be happy to tell me his story. In 1981 during the Guatemalan civil war he was abducted and shot twice by the army. He was only 17 years old. Some of the other hostages that were taken from San Pedro the same night as Filipe were murdered by the army in front of him. To this day, he still doesn’t know why the army abducted him, nor how he managed to survive his ordeal.

Listen to Filipe’s story (in Spanish) by clicking on the play button at the top.

Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala #3

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I have now entered week 5 of my studies at the Co-operative of Guatemalan Spanish Teachers in San Pedro La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Click below to listen to it.

Cooperative School, San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

In this podcast we give you an update of our housing situation, having moved out of the home stay and into a wonderful new house by the lake, we visit the cemetery during a festival for the dead, and discuss how our Spanish studies are going. We finish the podcast with a brief chat about some of the strange energies and mysteries surrounding Lake Atitlan. We’ll post more details of these here in the next few days.

Links

Our photos of Guatemala – including Lake Atitlan, San Pedro, The School, & Antigua
Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala #1
Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala #2
Video tour of the Cooperative School plus an interview with the Coordinator

Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala #2

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This week Tina and I have moved in with a Guatemalan family as part of a homestay arranged by the school we’re studying at – The Co-operative of Guatemalan Spanish Teachers. You can listen to the podcast we made below:

In this podcast, we discuss what it’s like to live with a family here, along with how our Spanish studies have been going moving into their second week. We finish the podcast with a trip to the colourful Sunday market at Chichicastenango – two hours from San Pedro.

Studying Spanish & living with a Guatemalan family

Links

Our photos of Guatemala – including Lake Atitlan, San Pedro, The School, & Antigua
Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala Episode 1
Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala Episode 3
Video tour of the school including an interview with Luis, the Coordinator

You can also view the accompanying photos of Chichicastenango, Guatemala here.

Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala #1

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The following podcast takes the form of an informal discussion between Tina and I, recorded last week, during our first week studying Spanish at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. We discuss the school, prices, and dangerous wildlife.

Cooperative Spanish School, San Pedro La Laguna, GuatemalaA day or two after arriving in San Pedro La Laguna by Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, Tina and I began studying Spanish at The Co-operative of Guatemalan Spanish Teachers. For a month or two before our trip began we had extensively researched countries and locations to study Spanish in, and settled on The Cooperative Language School here in San Pedro due to its low prices, its amazing location on the shores of Lake Atitlan, its community orientated philosophy and the fact that Guatemalan Spanish is very easy to understand.

We’ll be attempting to publish a new podcast every week whilst we’re here and will be studying for at least a month..You can listen to episode 2 of this podcast here.

Location map


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Further info

It costs about $82 for 20 hours one-on-one Spanish Language tuition a week (4 hours/day), although I have been told the prices may be increasing 10-15% shortly. You can choose to study more (up to 6 hours) or less should you wish to.

A homestay (living with a Guatemalan family) costs approximately an additional $85/week, and this includes three meals a day, but doesn’t include Sundays – which incidentally is the day in San Pedro that most restaurants seem to be closed.

Should you wish to stay in a guest house, you are looking at between $4/night (very basic indeed), $7/night (simple/mid-range), $10-$15 (private hot shower, & possibly other amenities).
Restaurant meals in San Pedro range from about $2 to $7 depending on where and what you eat.

Links

Our photos of Guatemala – including Lake Atitlan, San Pedro, The School, & Antigua
Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala Episode 2
Podcast: Studying Spanish in Guatemala Episode 3
Video tour and interview with the coordinator of the school
Podcast: Studying Spanish in Cuenca, Ecuador

Podcast: Arrival in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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It’s about 15 years and two months since I left Lake Atitlan for the first time. In those years I’ve never forgotten it. Think Lord of the Rings combined with Nordic myth or Loch Ness and you may start to fathom the mystical atmosphere this volcano-fringed lake exudes.

View to San Pedro from Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

There’s also a darker side, a side to which I think most travelers are oblivious. When I arrived here with three friends in 1993, we were dropped off in a small village to one side of the lake. The occupants seemed to retreat into doorways, staring at us from the shadows. Were we really so frightening a sight that people felt the need to hide from us? A year or so later, I discovered to my amazement that the village we had arrived in had shortly before been subjected to a brutal massacre at the hands of the Guatemalan government during a bout of civil war suppression.

Nowadays Lake Atitlan functions as a traveler Mecca on many levels – hippies, language students, party animals, or people attracted simply by its aesthetics – all congregate here and meditate, study, appreciate the view and frequently lose themselves in the freely available drugs.

We’ll be studying Spanish here (in San Pedro La Laguna) over the next few weeks during which time we’ll also be publishing regular updates about our experiences on Earthoria.com.

View our photos of arriving in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala here.