La Isla de Ometepe By Sophie Kuzma
Who? • Ometepe Island has been inhabited by many different tribes, over different eras. The first known inhabitants are the Nahua Indians, from Mexico. Following them were the Niquirano Indians. Later, Spanish conquistadors settled the island at the end of the sixteenth century. Some other inhabitant tribes include the Chibchas and Chorotegas.
What? • La Isla de Ometepe is a volcano island, created by twin volcanoes, and connected by a land isthmus. The larger volcano, Concepción rises 1610 meters above sea level and is still active, while La Madera, the dormant volcano, reaches to 1394 meters above sea level. Ometepe means “two mountains” in Nahuatl, the native language. One part of the island is the Charco Verde nature reserve.
Where? • The island is located in the country of Nicaragua, and is surrounded by Lake Nicaragua, which holds the only species of fresh water shark. The island’s population is 42,000 people, and the two major cities are Altagracia and Moyogalpa. Ometepe Island is the home to a wide variety of animals, including several species of monkeys, reptiles, and amphibians.
When? • At the end of the sixteenth century, Spanish conquistadors had settled Ometepe Island, but Indian tribes had lived on the island long before that. On April 15, 1930, farmer Casimiro Murillo discovered the beautiful crater lake at the top of La Madera. The last time Concepciónerupted was in 1986, but in 2005 there was a severe earthquake due to built up pressure in the volcano.
Why did people come to Ometepe Island? • The Nahua Indians turned Ometepe Island into a sacred island, and used the different water sources as areas to conduct religious rituals. When conquistadors came to South America in search of wealth and to convert native “heathens” to the Catholic religion, they were in awe of La Isla de Ometepe’s beauty, and took possession of it.
How did the island form? • Ometepe Island was formed in the Holocene Era when the two volcanoes, Concepción and La Madera continuously erupted, and formed a land isthmus between them. Since 1883, Concepción has erupted twenty-four times, and there are active fumaroles near the top. La Madera hasn’t erupted in the last 10,000 years, and is covered by a thick rainforest.
Past • La Isla de Ometepe was at one point used as a burial grounds for Indians. Stone carvings and petroglyphs have been found in several locations, some dating back to 300 BC. A common motif among the petroglyphs was turtles. Swirly lines were also commonly found, some thought to represent the head of anthromorphic beings, and some in pairs representing the island.
Present • The native people of Ometepe Island today have more religious and folk festivals than anywhere else in Nicaragua. Their economy is based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism. The main crop of the island is plantains. The volcanic soil is very fertile and makes farming easier, as the farmers can replant in the same places over and over. The locals run buses around the island, give tours, and are beginning to open hotels and restaurants.
How it Shapes Life in the Country Today… • Although La Isla de Ometepe is beginning to host more tourists, the island is still very wild, with no huge cities or developments built. Along with the seclusion and general wildness of the island, the beauty and culture draw tourists willing to hike and help with things like harvesting coffee beans, enabling the economy to rest somewhat on tourism.
Sources • Nicaragua: Enchantment of the World by Marion Morrison • http://www.vianica.com/visit/ometepe • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ometepe • http://www.gonomad.com/destinations/0012/sydney_ometepe.html • http://www.ometepenicaraguaspanish.net/history_of_Ometepe.html
Picture Sources • (Slide One) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ometepe • (Slide Two) http://www.epn.com.ni/news_detail.aspx?footer=1&news_id=21 • (Slide Three) http://www.turismoenfotos.com/items/nicaragua/otros/3101_isla-de-ometepe/ • (Slide Four) http://www.mundoventura.travel/package/15 • (Slide Six) http://www.lavozdelsandinismo.com/nicaragua/2009-07-10/celebran-preseleccion-de-ometepe-para-las-7-maravillas-naturales/ • (Slide Five) http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g304024-d1229602-r27801657-Totoco_Eco_Lodge-Isla_de_Ometepe.html • (Slide Seven) http://www.escapadores.com/2008/03/06/ometepe-la-isla-de-aguas-dulces/ • (Slide One) http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/ellisa_5/3/1238798400/tpod.html • (Slide Ten) http://www.re-moto.com/photos.php?lang=esp&img=2249 • (Slide Nine) http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/workshyandshameless/ • (Slide Eight) http://nicaragua-2009.blogspot.com/2009/07/photos-of-granada-and-isla-de-ometepe.html