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Seriously starting to love Leon, Nicaragua. In fact loving the fact that “leg two of this spider of a trip” has started out in C. America. Feel alive here and I’m in the intellectual capital of Nicaragua which only enhances things. This update is going to be hard to write because our lives are all one big habit and this habit has been lacking of late but that’s “OK” because other habits have been accelerating like a 16 year old in dad’s Ferrari without a license. Thought Granada was a great place, wait until you get to Leon…
Brief bit of history can be found here. To summarize it’s an old city in the northwestern part of Nicaragua. It was first founded by the Spaniards as Santiago de los Caballeros de León and mysteriously moved sometime later to its current location. It’s the intellectual capital of Nicaragua and has a strong Liberal influence. In fact the capital kept getting switched between Leon and Granada (conservatives) until it was finally decided that Managua in the center would do. The town is very picturesque and rivals Granada in number of old colonial buildings. Besides that it has the Cathedral of the Assumption which has now been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Finally, did I mention there is stunning architecture in the form of churches everywhere!?
This place has a much safer feel than Granada. Granada had that Arusha, Tanzania feel. It’s that interesting yet unbalanced zone where an area is really blowing up and none of the new found wealth is being distributed to the long time residents. Whenever that occurs you can expect all sorts of scams, petty crimes or straight up robberies to increase in correlation to the inequality. Leon doesn’t quite have that feel, I’m quite liking Leon.
Have been here a few days now and really just living my life in a very happy place. As fate would have it, have found some random local eateries that appear to be in families homes. You walk in and there are just a few random tables and the same meal everyday. I always order chicken and I know it will come with rice and coleslaw, after that it’s a mixed bag of french fries or pasta salad and I’m always satisfied. I also order a cool banana milkshake or grape gatorade and leave smiling after giving the nice lady $2.50-$3, wow. There are other more touristy places but that’s not my trip unless I’m with a group.
Had a long chat with that gent from the USA who has been here for 15 years about living in Leon. He said it’s a safe place but you’re still being insanely cheap if you don’t take a $1 taxi across town to get home from the bar late at night. I already knew that and it is just one of the COUNTLESS places where it’s not the “best idea” to go on long walks after making merry throughout the city. The same is actually true in more places than not I’d say. Also said there isn’t much crime here and it’s typically opportunistic aka someone alone in a dark alley at night who looks to be carrying cash.
That said, I do love it here and don’t stroll around with my camera. I did take some great photos(I think) but now just want to be another face on the street, someone else going about their day. If you are a tourist somewhere for say a few days, who cares. If you plan on staying a week or more, don’t want to be associated with expensive things in your pocket. I hope this doesn’t give you the wrong impression, I’m just being real with you. I love it here but it doesn’t have the tourist overload of Asia and most people earn nothing from tourists so it’s a different feel. That said there are plenty of tourists here but nothing compared to most places I’ve been to in Asia.
Today I went to the gym and it reminded me of the local gym I joined in Hoi An, Vietnam for $4 a month. This gym is $9.50 a month or $1 a day. It has everything you need and more. Add in the colonial buildings, friendly people and the fact that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s starting to sound like Hoi An, another place that I love. In fact sorta feel like I’m there sometimes as in my mind there are so many parallels. There are even lots of street vendors selling fruits and even a shawarma stand that has better “Kebab” than anywhere I’ve sampled in Europe with the exception of Odessa, Ukraine.
My friend went hiking today, was going to go then realized I had no desire and that made me think. How much of our lives are programmed from friends or the media? Had I not been with this guy I’d of never even imagined paying for a 2 day hike and camping trip on some volcano but now it’s in my mind and I felt as though I was missing out. Why did I play baseball as a kid? Oh yeah the kids I hung out with did and the list goes on and on and on and on. Take a second and think about it, you’d be surprised. That said, if you want to go volcano boarding, this is the place to do it.
Suffice to say loving C. America and I haven’t even been to a beach yet, that will be remedied before the week is done, I assure you. Apart from that starting to ponder what direction I will head in, have heard from several people in different areas but am currently in no rush. As much as I love it here, always have to remind myself that the ONLY reason I found this place is because I keep moving. If not, I’d probably still be living in that hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam and probably pretty bored by now.
P.S: Have a special plan for tomorrow, hope the attractions are open…