For some reason, the Solentiname Islands attracted me and I was determined to visit them upon arrival in San Carlos. Since I only had a few hours and there is not so much regular traffic between the town and the islands, I rented a boat with the boatman included. When we left the harbour, the islands were just visible at the horizon of the huge Lago Nicaragua. When we arrived at one island, I walked around, visited a few houses to see the artesanía of the local people, and talked with a paintress who is a master in the typical naive art of the islands. Just as we set out for our return trip to San Carlos, the sky had darkened and a strong wind had developed. I asked a local woman if we would arrive safely on the mainland, she just said, "If God wants so, yes". While we were still going close to the island, it was still more or less OK, but as soon as we left the island behind, we realized how bad the weather really was. We were confronted with savage metre-high waves, with white crests, and our boat was merely a toy of this violent water.
It was hard to believe this was a lake and not a sea. Every time we nose-dived down towards the waves, we were launched from our seats, crushed back to the boat a few seconds later, and the nose of the boat took water. When the boatman had to fix a problem with the engine, we nearly capsized because the boat was not pointed against the waves anymore. In the distance, the division between sky and waves was completely blurred.
The mainland was nowhere to see and anyway a long distance away. The worst thing was that it was clear that we were not advancing at all. At one point we hit the waves so hard, that when I landed on my seat I actually broke the back of it, and fell with my back inside the boat. Since there was already a lot of water in the boat, I was soaked instantly. At this moment, I started to be really worried and asked the captain if we could not go back. Instead of this, we took shelter near a nearby uninhabited island. After a little more than half an hour, the weather miraculously improved and we continued our way to San Carlos. This was also not easy, because by that time we had entered night and the lights in San Carlos were out because of the mosquito plague. Although I had been looking forward to it so much, when I could finally step on the quay of the harbour, I was completely covered by mosquitoes. At least, the sweet water sharks in the lake did not have me for dinner that night.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Solentiname Island (Nicaragua). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Solentiname Island. Read more about this site.