The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #151

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A reader writes:

This appears to be the view of Pico from Faial, both central islands in the Azores. While not exactly tropical, the climate is warm enough to sustain the odd palm tree. I believe you can see the town of Horta smack in the middle of the snapshot.


Long-time follower, first time responding! I believe this picture was taken from somewhere on the eastern side of the Azorean island Faial. The mountain in the background looks to be Mount Pico, on the nearby island of Pico. I’m sure someone else will be much more exact, but my best guess is that it was taken somewhere on the outskirts of the city of Horta, possibly Conceição?

Since I can’t offer too much more detail, let me add a personal anecdote about Faial. My family is originally from mainland Portugal and my grandfather originally applied for a visa to come to the US in 1947, but didn’t get one until 1960. It took a series of volcanic eruptions in 1957/58 on the western side of Faial to finally open the door for my family and thousands of others to enter the US.  The eruptions led to Congress passing the Azorean Refugee Act of 1958 (co-sponsored by then Senator John F. Kennedy), which greatly  increased the amount of visas provided to Portuguese, both from the Azores and the mainland.


This looks like it might be Nevis in the distance, the island that is very close to St. Kitts. The country is St. Kitts Nevis, Nevis is so-called because Columbus thought that the peak was covered in snow, or nieves in Spanish, but it was just clouds.  There are no snow capped islands in the West Indies.  Nevis is just south of St. Kitts, which was named by Columbus for his patron saint.


It could be any tropical, volcanic region in the world, so most likely Central America or Southeast Asia. With that in mind, I’m guessing that this was taken from the port town of Balingoan on the north coast of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, looking across to Camiguin Island which is famous for its volcanoes.


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Well, this week’s contest was too easy, as Anak Krakatoa Island is the subject of the photo. (Even were it not for the profile of the famous volcano, the red tile/metal roofs in the tropical paradise setting clearly suggest an Indonesia-like locale.)  The photographer has to be a tourist visiting Anak Krakatoa (Child of Krakatoa), with accommodation on one of the three islands that make up the remnants of the original Krakatoa island obliterated in 1883.


Well, we’re looking at a volcano in the tropics, sitting near a body of water.  Could be a lot of different places (it quite reminds me of my recent trip to Arenal volcano in Costa Rica), but searching Indonesia alone would take hours, I’m going to make an educated guess that we’re looking at Mayon Volcano in the Philippines, known for its majestic symmetry.  It sits on a body of water, the Albay Gulf, and there’s the little town of Manito right across the gulf from Mayon, so that’s what I’m guessing. (Watch, the volcano will probably turn out to be Concepcion in Nicaragua, or something in Indonesia and I’ll be off by thousands of miles.)


Costa Rica? Overlooking the Tenorio volcano, from Tilaran, or somewhere close? My husband and I went to Costa for our honeymoon in January and I’ve been dying to go back and this has the look, from the palms, architecture, terrain. Might be another volcano, but definitely Central America.


I spent the winter holiday cruising down the Pacific coast and stopped in both Guatemala and Nicaragua. Volcanoes in both places, but I’m guessing Guatemala.  Is that Lake Atitlan in the foreground? I don’t expect I’ll ever win the book – I’m just not computer savvy enough to do the calculations and draw the intersecting vector lines and give GPS data … but fuck it, let’s say this is taken from the top of the chicken coop on the farm of Pedro Zacapa on the outskirts of Santa Catarina Palopo, Guatemala.


Back in the 1980s, when I lived in Guatemala, Panajachel on Lake Atitlan was one of the places I’d go for a respite. At that time there were few tourists and even on Peace Corps wages I could stay in a decent hotel. I believed and still believe that it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And the people were as beautiful as the land. Many of the villages on the lake were considered too dangerous to visit, but I would go anyway. Stupid youth. There was a Catholic mission in one village that was very welcoming. I had tremendous respect for the work of these people – nuns, priests, and others – doing such good work in a troubled place. I would visit the orphanage to get my hug quota fulfilled. The only negative was that many were from Minnesota and I had to withstand a barrage of Iowa jokes whenever I stopped by.

Another gets the right country:

I have never dared to respond to the VFYW contest before but the most recent one just screams Central America to me, and since I lived for a year and a half in Nicaragua, I’m going to go with that. The mix of vegetation, the layout of the house, the rusty corrugated tin roof, and the volcano on the lake is the spitting image of Mombotombo. The bricks in the foreground even look like the type made by all the towns along the Highway from Managua to Leon. I’m getting some serious nostalgia just typing this. So I’m going to take a guess based on the towns around Lake Managua and say this was taken outside either La Esperanza or Nagarote. Let’s just go with Nagarote. Thanks for the blast from the past!

Another nails the exact location:

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A Google image search using the phrase “volcano island” quickly serves up a variety of candidates, including Volcan Concepcion, on the island Ometepe, in Nicaragua, with a cone-like shape similar to the mountain in the contest photo.  A subsequent search on “Ometepe” turned up photos so strikingly similar to the contest photo that they must have been taken from the same window. It didn’t take long to find the location by looking at Ometepe accommodations on Tripadvisor. The location is the Finca Magdalena guest house, near the town of Balgue, on the island of Ometepe, in Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua.

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On Google maps, my wife and I started moving north along the Venezuelan coastline in search of islands just off the mainland.  Eventually we reach Central America, and Nicaragua.  At this point one might notice a rather large lake set in Nicaragua named Lake Nicaragua, and set in the middle of that lake is … a volcanic island called Isla Ometepe.  In the lake.  Like a motherf*cking Bond villian lair.  It’s the coolest thing ever and I never knew it existed and it’s shit like this that keeps me doing this contest every week.

Another focuses on the hostel:

I am afraid this one will generate a lot of correct results, based on the fact that I found it rather quickly (20 minutes).  Clearly Caribbean landscape, but no island volcanoes seem to match the geography. I found some links to Costa Rica volcanoes and expanded my search to include Central America, which immediately produced several photos almost identical to this weeks view, all with the same outbuildings and varying degrees of cloud cover and snow on Volcán Concepción. Anyway, I believe the photo was taken from the upper floor of the Finca Magdalena Hostel on Isla de Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. Judging by the angle and the window frame in the photo, I am pretty sure it was take through the small side window circled:



I have never been there, but my Brooklyn-dwelling daughter traveled there last year, visiting a friend and climbing the other volcano, Maderas, which is dormant. She reported spectacular wildlife and loved hiking up through the rainforest; it is a nature preserve and a UNESCO Biosphere preserve.


This place is fantastic if you like troops of howler monkey. As a monkey enthusiast myself this locale was great for sneaking into the woods up the hill and grabbing a quick pic of the monkeys. We stayed monkeyhere one night on our way around the island back in 2010, since we’d heard they’d had this great fried mango food like Mango French Fries!  The whooping and screeches of the monkeys did not thrill most residents during the night, but boy was I wooed by their subtle songs. Just Beautiful! It had a great little restaurant style bed and breakfast feel, and there was a fantastically cute pet raccoon tied to tree. He did little tricks for food throughout the meals, although he didn’t seem too happy about the leash. Not sure how they got him – are raccoon’s common pets in “Nici”? I need get one of these!

But back to the monkeys! Howler monkeys can be heard from over three miles away. Amazing! We went all around the island listening for them. I felt like Jane Goodall or something finding these monkeys! HUZAAAAHHH!!! There they were! They mostly enjoyed the slopes of the volcano, which – woooweee – are a little steep for my legs. I practically fell right off of Conception. I’m not great at sketching but tried my hand at it – getting sooo much better at anatomical sketches. Probably should write my own book on this stuff.


When I saw this week’s VFYW, I nearly had a heart attack. Finally, a VFYW that I’d seen with my own eyes! This is the Finca Magdalena, a rustic farmhouse inn on an organic coffee farm, where I stayed with my husband and our three-year-old daughter, Isabel, several years ago. The Finca was our last destination on our trip to Nica. The ride in was rather complicated, hopping from ferry to bus to motorbike, but let me tell you, it was worth it. My husband and I loved the simplicity of the food, the staff, and most of all, the COFFEE! Nothing like some caffeine to get you up those steep Nica hikes! We ditched some clothes just to leave room in our suitcases to bring home as much coffee as possible.

The kind staff even introduced our Isabel to their “mapachito”, the cutest little raccoon they keep tied to a nearby tree. He was friendly as ever. Needless to say, this was the highlight of Isabel’s trip, and she played with him constantly. Talk about a free babysitter ;)


Arriving to volcano island

During a winter break in law school, I traveled to Nicaragua with one of my best friends.  As I’m sure most tourists would be, we were intrigued by the existence of a volcano in the middle of a lake.  We set aside a couple of days of our whirlwind tour of the country to travel to Isla de Ometepe.  On our only full day on the island, we spent an exhausting eight hours scaling the muddy slopes of Volcan Concepcion.  We brought our cameras for what we believed would be the incredible views on top.  Unfortunately, we had not thought through the implications of the term “cloud forest.”  As the moniker would suggest, the top of Concepcion is entirely banked in by clouds and thick mist at almost all times (as the entry photo depicts).  Despite having no views, the slopes were still a wonderfully dense jungle of packed vegetation, tangled tree limbs, and howling monkeys.


I knew this one immediately, not because I’d been there but because growing up we constantly had Ometepe coffee around the house.  The distinctive shape of the volcano was printed on the coffee bags.

About a third of the roughly 150 entries correctly identified Ometepe, and seven of those were from readers who have identified difficult views in the past without winning (“difficult” being defined as a view in which only 10 or fewer readers correctly answer it).  To break that tie, the reader among the seven who has participated in the most contests (11) is the winner this week:

This week’s view is from the top (mansard) floor of the Finca Magdalena Hostel. It is located on Ometepe Island, which rises out of Lake Nicaragua. Two volcanoes dominate the island: Concepcion, seen in the original view, is the taller, more symmetric one; and Maderas is the flatter one on the right at the link above. The hostel is on its northern slope. I knew this had to be in the Americas, since there is a cactus in the foreground, on the roof (all cacti but one are native to the Americas). I tried ‘volcano island Central America’ as a search phrase and Ometepe was the top result. I found this almost identical image on Panoramio and then the building it was taken from. (The window in question is the small one on the right.)

One more view:

VFYW Ometepe Interior Actual Window - Copy