By Vicki Barnes

imageA warm breeze was blowing off the beach this afternoon as we made our way back to our room. Ninty degrees and dry. Thirst was demanding a my attention.

“Something cool and wet would be perfect right about now,” I said to myself.

And then, as if I had conjured a magical solution to the situation by simply thinking about it, a young man with a wooden cart with a door on top attached to the front of his canibalized bicycle pulled out of a driveway ringing a hand bell.

“Ice?” he asked in lightly accented English. “It is not just ice. It is traditional drink in Ometepe.”

Intriguing. Ice. Traditional drink. I had to have a look.

imageFrom the interior of the cart, he pulled a block of ice in a plastic bag and a kitchen towel. He spread the towel on the lid and began scraping the ice with a tool that was probably older than he, but so ingenious that a newer model was never necessary. As he scraped the ice from the block, it collected in an attaced scoop. As each scoop filled, it was plopped into a cup.

“Piña or milk?”

The thought of milk over ice didn’t appeal to me, but I wanted the traditional drink so I asked for whatever was the way he liked it and what most of the residents ordered.

In Ometepe, he said, most people like both…both together.

The piña, it turns out is a pineapple honey mixture cooked down with a bit of marachino cherry juice to give it a bit of color. The milk, fresh from the cow at home, is heated – with the cream and all – with honey and water to make a syrup.

This is no Slurpee. It’s a syrupy, sweet creamcicle in a cup. imageFresh fruit, real cream and honey. I’m sure the calories are astronomical and the glucose level high, but for an occasional treat, this sweet ice is somethng special.

And, at 80 cents for a 16 ounce cup, it’s got the Slurpee beat on that front as well!