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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Nicaragua Part 5

    Friday, August 18, 2017
    Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

    The ponies arrive out in front of Hospedaje Soma in Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    The ponies arrive out in front of Hospedaje Soma in Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    Let’s talk about horses. I’ve only ridden a horse twice in my whole life–both times when I was a kid. The first time, within seconds of climbing on, I slid right off the side of the horse as it was in a full gallop. (To my credit, though, I’m pretty sure I was riding bareback.) The second time a few years later, I climbed on and instantly got bucked off, flew through the air backward and landed on my ass. So, despite the fact that I’ve never had much luck with the beasts, I went ahead and booked a horseback ride for this afternoon anyway.

    Follow the leader just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    Follow the leader just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    At 1:30 pm, a couple of guys showed up at the Hospedaje Soma with two small ponies and helped me climb up onto one of them. It’s not like I was expecting a jockey from the Kentucky Derby to hand deliver a thoroughbred horse straight to me, throw a saddle on its back and yell, “All aboard!” But, that horse sure was small! After giving me a few pointers about how to command the horse to start, stop and turn right or left, we were off.

    Passing a gnarly tree just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    Passing a gnarly tree just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    Of course, riding the horse felt awkward at first, but as time went on, I felt more comfortable. We proceeded down the road a little ways, then hung a left into a side alley, which soon gave way to a wide dirt trail that was, unfortunately, covered with piles of trash. Once we made it outside of town, I’m happy to say, there was no more garbage.

    A man passes with a load of bananas just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    A man passes with a load of bananas just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    Next, we made our way up the wide trail in between ranches that were divided by barbed wire fences held up by rustic tree branch posts. Several times, we passed by farmers who were walking their cattle down the trail from one field to another. One time, two guys on a cart pulled by two huge water buffalos even cruised by.

    Scenic trees just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    Scenic trees just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    Heading further uphill at the base of Volcano Concepcion, we passed through some jungle forests, where the trails became quite rough and technical–especially during creek crossings. At first, I felt uneasy about sitting so high up on a horse and traversing such uneven terrain, but my worries subsided when I figured out the horse definitely knows what it’s doing, and is very skilled at negotiating difficult topography.

    A pause to reevaluate outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    A pause to reevaluate outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    About midway through the ride, we stopped for a minute for a view of Volcano Concepcion, then soldiered on. After a while, the guide seemed to be a little annoyed that we were going so slow and asked me if we could speed up. I declined, but a while later, when I figured out that we were making a big loop instead of going up to a point and returning the same way we came, I told him we could go a little bit faster. Since the cost of the ride is $10.00 per hour, I only wanted to go on a two-hour ride, which meant we had to pick up the pace a little bit to make it back by 3:30 pm.

    A view of Volcano Concepcion just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    A view of Volcano Concepcion just outside Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    So, the guide started riding behind me and occasionally gave the horse a little whip on its rear end to encourage it to speed up. As we trotted along, I was bouncing up and down like crazy in the saddle. If there’s a certain way to move with the horse to lessen the pounding, I couldn’t figure it out. But, luckily, just when my butt couldn’t take it any more, we finally made it back into Moyogalpa.

    Back at the Hospedaje Soma in Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
    Back at the Hospedaje Soma in Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.

    At exactly 3:30 pm, we arrived in front of the Hospedaje Soma, where the guide showed me a large rock to help me step down off of the horse. The only problem was there was a big tree branch right there that almost knocked me off the back when the horse lurched forward! After some struggle getting my right leg up and over the horse, I finally stood on the ground. My legs were so sore, I nearly collapsed. But, I’m super stoked I went on the ride. I did something that I would normally never do, I got to see some really pleasant scenery, and I made it the whole way without falling or getting bucked off. And for that, I’m thankful to the God of Horses, wherever you are.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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