Nicaragua, Part 2

Published: February 27th 2016
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Returned to Granada for a day before traveling via shuttle to Leon for a trip to Playa las Penitas and a stay at Barca de Oro, an "eco lodge" where we stayed in their ecoist of accommodations, a bungalow we found pretty comfortable. From there, it was a short walk to the almost empty beaches where you can walk for several kilometers running into hardly anyone...except on Sundays when people come from much hotter Leon to enjoy the beach and the restaurants and bars that line it...all of which are low key. This isn't a resort. The sunsets are beautiful, especially when accompanied by $1 beers and $2 drinks.

After a few nights at Barca, we moved onto Leon, which is a very different place than Granada. It's busier and more city-like than Granada. While the center of Granada is focused primarily on tourists, Leon is a bit more varied. The country's largest university is headquartered here and, as such, Leon has a history of being more political than Granada. While Granada wasn't touched by the 1978/79 revolution, Leon was its center.

They've tried to preserve the history of that revolution, but the result is a rundown museum housing a few faded pictures and even fewer artifacts. It does provide apparent employment for some former guerrillas who act as tour guides for tips. Ours just helped us keep the various players apart as we browsed the photos.

Leon is west of a string of volcanoes, all visible from the city, particularly from the bell tower of the cathedral. The cathedral was actually designed in Spain in the 18th century for Lima, Peru, but somebody mixed up the plans on the boat to the Americas. It's a pretty imposing structure for this relatively small city.

Leon has a few sights beyond the cathedral, including a decent Latin American art museum and a strange Museo de Tradiciones y Leyendas, which is a weird mix of paper mache mannequins hung with crude signs to illustrate traditional stories and legends and a memorial of the former use of the building, as an infamous prison and place of torture in the years just prior to the revolution. As a place to hang out, Leon isn't bad. It's not extremely busy and has a fair mix of restaurants and bars, with Italian food running a close second to Nicaraguan food.

There are many day trips from Leon, most involving volcanoes. Mine was up Volcan Telica, 1061 meters, to catch the sunset. The volcano had had a small eruption several weeks prior to the trip, and Telica was still steaming with red-hot lava visible after the sunset.

After that, there was just one more day to eat and drink to mark the end of the trip.

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