Isla Zopango

During our whirlwind one day tour of Nicaragua, we had the opportunity to see Apoyo Crater Lake between Masaya and Granada, followed by a trip to the Santiago crater at the peak of the Masaya Volcano. We finished our day with a quick boat ride on Lake Nicaragua. We glimpsed some of Nicaragua’s natural wonders – each one an amazing story all its own.

Knowing that we didn’t want to spend a full day wandering the streets of Granada, we went straight back to the lake the next day. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Nicaragua, and the 19th largest in the world. This is a lake with waves, sharks, and an island home to two volcanoes at its center. It is bordered by the Mombacho Volcano and because of an eruption thousands of years ago there are over 300 islets close to Granada. These small islands are home to fishermen, small hotels and wildlife. We took a boat to Isla Zopango, a beautiful private island a mere 15 minute boat ride from the shore.

Our hosts, a couple from the south of France, transformed the island into a tranquil retreat spot, while simultaneously employing local island inhabitants. We enjoyed swimming, kayaking, fresh food – fish caught and grilled while we were there – and the slow pace that put Granada more than a short boat ride away from us.

Our French hosts gave us a ride back to town after our day was done. They told us that while they are trying to provide the locals with work and education they have found it difficult to create change. We had so many questions and so little time during our short ride, but were reminded once again of the enormity of the problems facing the people born into and living in extreme poverty.

We returned to Granada that afternoon with tired and hungry kids. They were polite but quiet when they were served whole fish for lunch, They, (Jacob), tried, but just couldn’t pull it off. Having never tackled a whole fish myself, I was up for the challenge and ended up making a mess of all of our plates. Like ribs and wings, I am sure that I didn’t adequately clean the bones, but I did my best. There were heads and tails everywhere, and very little meat to be found, but again, it was a first attempt. I loved it – it was a relative of tilapia, so it was a nice white meat, but there was no “filet” to be found.

Halfway through the meal we were served a bowl of deep fried sardines – caught that morning. O.K. I really tried on this one. But again, a whole fish that you pop in your mouth – head, fins, bones, tail and all. I ate two of them, but seeing as it was a stretch for me, I didn’t even ask the kids to consider it. Sardines are packed full of nutrition, so now that I crossed over I will try again, but it was all a little too much for one day.

The kids were just wide eyed and kind of amused, (as opposed to appalled). We had Nicaraguan coffee and island fruits for dessert. The kids were more excited about this dessert than anything I’ve seen, so we all took our steaming cups of coffee, filled with a spoon full of sugar and said, “Salud” in honor of a great day in Nicaragua.

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