Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America








After 2 days in the jungle visiting family it was my turn to pick what we were going to do for the day. One of the cities that I had never been to and always wanted to see was Leon so we decided to go there for a day. There are 2 highways from Managua to Leon, the "old" highway and the "new" highway. I was warned not to take the old highway because it is in very bad shape. Unfortunately, there are no signs telling you what highway you're on so you just need to guess. Well, we guessed wrong and ended up on the old highway. The problem is that the first 15 miles or so are pretty decent leading you to believe you are on the right road. You also get far enough along on your journey that you don't want to turn around and find the good highway. In hindsight, turning around probably would have been a good idea since the road is horrific. It ended up taking about 2 1/2 hours to make the 90 KM (40 miles) journey.

As I mentioned earlier, Nicas are extremely enterprising when it comes to finding ways to earn money. One of the things that people do is fix roads for tips. We came to one stretch of road that was pretty decent and eventually found a lone man with a shovel working on filling in potholes. We stopped and gave him a few Cordobas for his efforts. Usually, if we have bottled water in the car we'll give them a bottle of water as well. You'll run into guys like this all over Nicaragua and you should definately stop and give them some money when you see them.

Here's some video of the lovely highway...


Washing The Car
Washing The Car
Princessa Is Happy
Princessa Is Happy
Junietts Cousin Saleen
Junietts Cousin Saleen
Nicaraguan Post Office
Nicaraguan Post Office
Biblemobile
Biblemobile
Fixing The Road For Tips
Fixing The Road For Tips
Old Highway To Leon
Old Highway To Leon
The Road Is Horrific
The Road Is Horrific
Ancient Rock Wall
Ancient Rock Wall

As we approached the colonial city of Leon the first major landmark that stands out is the huge cathedral in the center of town. (In fact, it's the largest cathedral in all of Central America) Construction on the Cathedral of Leon began in 1747 and it took nearly 100 years to complete. The massive size is completely out of proportion to the size of the town of Leon. On of the theories on way such a large cathedral was built is that it happened completely by accident. The plans for the cathedral to be built in Lima, Peru by the Spanish were accidentally sent to Leon while the plans for Leon's cathedral were sent to Lima. This would certainly make sense since Lima is a massive town and has a tiny cathedral while the opposite is true in Leon.

The inside of the cathedral is somewhat understated in comparison to others in Latin America. Nicaragua never had the type of treasures, namely gold, that other Latin American countries had which would explain it's austerity. There are many large statues of saints and large paintings depicting the stations of the cross. The cathedral is also home to the tomb of perhaps Nicaragua's most famous citizen, the poet Rueben Dario.


Welcome To Leon
Welcome To Leon
Cathedral In The Distance
Cathedral In The Distance
Leon
Leon
Cathedral Of The Ascension
Cathedral Of The Ascension
Central Market
Central Market
The Plastic Store
The Plastic Store
Lion Statue
Lion Statue
Statue Inside Church
Statue Inside Church
Juniett Says A Prayer
Juniett Says A Prayer
The Altar
The Altar
Massive Paintings
Massive Paintings
This Is A Big Church
This Is A Big Church
Stations Of The Cross
Stations Of The Cross
Another Statue
Another Statue
Rear Of The Church
Rear Of The Church

My first impressions of Leon were that it's a much prettier city than the tourist Mecca of Granada. It's always puzzled me why so many gringos go to Granada as I've never found it to be that nice. There are far more interesting cities in Latin America than Granada in my opinion.

We left the cathedral in order to find a bathroom (it was a loooong ride) and I got my first glimpse of why Leon isn't real popular with gringos. In the plaza in front of the cathedral the walls were painted with comforting slogans like "death to the imperial invader" and "Bush, enemy of humanity". (Berkeley, CA residents would be right at home here) The main products that the vendors have for sale are Che T-Shirts and FSLN gear. While I didn't feel threatened, I certainly wasn't feeling welcome either as more than one person was giving me the stink-eye.


Necisito El Bano
Necisito El Bano
Main Plaza
Main Plaza
Lion Fountain
Lion Fountain
Donde Esta El Bano
Donde Esta El Bano
The Thinker
The Thinker
Death To The Imperial Invader
Death To The Imperial Invader
We Love George Bush
We Love George Bush
Sandinista Hangout
Sandinista Hangout
Another Church
Another Church
Cathedral Of The Ascension
Cathedral Of The Ascension
Mary Watches Over
Mary Watches Over
The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower
Completed In 1747
Completed In 1747
Calvario Church In The Distance
Calvario Church In The Distance
Cool Mural
Cool Mural
Handicraft Market
Handicraft Market
Central Market
Central Market
Street In Leon
Street In Leon
Cool Sign
Cool Sign
Juniett Gets Weighed
Juniett Gets Weighed


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