Not being able to connect to wifi for any extended period time seems crazy and/or impossible in the world we live in today. Our smart phones have become an extension of our bodies. We are constantly texting, instagramming, facebooking, snap chatting, emailing, “connecting.” But it turns out when you spend 3 days on a volcanic island in the middle of a lake in the middle of a third world country in Central America (cue Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua), the wifi connection isn’t too great. In fact, it’s so bad that the hostel we stayed in didn’t even bother with it. So after panicking about how I would survive without internet connection for that long, I decided to put away my (now useless) phone and just live. My time on Ometepe ended up being the best part of my trip to Nicaragua and also the most vivid in my memory.
Here’s what you do when you can’t be on your phone: you take the long way to get somewhere, passing tobacco fields and waving to passersby along the way; you rope swing into Ojo de Agua mineral pool and feel no rush to ever leave; you drink beers in the top of a treehouse while you share stories, laughs, and views of the sunset with new friends; you spend hours at an organic restaurant sampling as much of the menu as you can, relishing in the flavors; you play pool again and again even though you’re really bad at pool, but it’s somehow fun; you eat breakfast and dinner with everyone at a big table and actually have conversations instead of hiding on your phone. I talked to more people while I stayed on Ometepe than I did on the rest of my trip combined. It left me feeling truly connected during my time there, which is ironic because it’s the longest I’ve ever been disconnected.
I took away an important travel lesson after that experience about how important it is to disconnect from our smart phones in order to really connect with the people and places around us. As hesitant as I was at the beginning, and as uncomfortable or unentertaining I thought it might be, it ended up being a huge blessing. I left feeling very grateful for my 3, wifi-less days on Ometepe. Here are some photos I took on the island–which I couldn’t share on the internet until days later 😉 (how amazing is that sunset?!?!)