Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America








About 5 or 6 blocks from the main cathedral is Calvario Church. This may well be the best maintained church in Nicaragua. It looks new but it was originally built in the early 1700's and renovated in the early 1900's. This church was at the center of much of the anti-Somoza movement as it was heavily utilized by Sandinista organizers. At one protest rally here in 1979 5 of the protesters were murdered by Somoza's National Guard troops.

The day I visited Calvario some sort of activity was taking place in the church. I'm not sure what it was since I never did get to see inside. I was taking photos outside of the church when a very angry looking and very burly Nica approached me and basically told me that Gringos didn't belong there and I should leave immediately. (That's the PG rated version of what he actually said) While I find it offensive that someone would try to deny entrance to a church for political reasons I wasn't going to argue the point and quietly went on my way.


New Orleans Style Building
New Orleans Style Building
Neat Door
Neat Door
Monument To A Commadante
Monument To A Commadante
Juniett & Nineth Take A Break
Juniett & Nineth Take A Break
Calvario Church
Calvario Church
Honey, I'm Hungry
Honey, I'm Hungry
Calvario Church
Calvario Church
Calvario Church
Calvario Church
Calvario Church
Calvario Church
5 Protesters Were Killed Here In 1979
5 Protesters Were Killed Here In 1979
Fancy Movie Theatre
Fancy Movie Theatre
Buying Some Cookies
Buying Some Cookies

There are no shortage of churches in Leon so rather than stick around where I clearly wasn't welcome we moved on to explore some of the others. Leon has an amazing variety of churchs with many different styles of architecture. La Merced was constructed in 1762 by Roman Catholic monks and was used as a seminary for training priests. La Recolección was built in 1786 and is unique with it's bright yellow color. San Francisco was built in 1639 and has been redone many times since.

La Merced Church
La Merced Church
Recolección Church
Recolección Church
Recolección Church
Recolección Church
Cobblestone Streets
Cobblestone Streets
Sandinista Flag
Sandinista Flag
Back Street In Leon
Back Street In Leon
Schools Out
Schools Out
San Francisco Church
San Francisco Church
La Merced Church
La Merced Church
I Want Candy
I Want Candy
Rueben Dario Statue
Rueben Dario Statue
Cool Mural
Cool Mural

One of the great contrasts of Leon is that in the midst of all these beautiful churches are countless revolutionary murals featuring machine gun toting soldiers. The murals mainly depict the bloody struggle of the Nicaguan people against the Somoza dictatorship but there are many that integrate the USA, the CIA, etc.


Get Your Revolutionary Literature
Get Your Revolutionary Literature
Revolutionary Mural
Revolutionary Mural
Revolutionary Graffiti
Revolutionary Graffiti
Revolutionary Mural
Revolutionary Mural
Revolutionary Mural
Revolutionary Mural
Revolutionary Mural
Revolutionary Mural
Ben Linder Cafe
Ben Linder Cafe
Guadalajara Restaurant
Guadalajara Restaurant
Hotel La Perla
Hotel La Perla

As the day went on we began to look for a place to eat dinner. One of the first places we spotted was the Ben Linder Cafe. Ben Linder was an American who moved to Nicaragua in the 1980's to support the Sandinista revolution using his skills as an electrical engineer. Linder was killed by the Contras and his death was used by the American left to pressure congress to cut off funding for the Contras. There's a good book called "The Death of Ben Linder" if you're interested in knowing more about him. You can read my review of the book by clicking this link. I found it more than a little ironic that someone was using the image of a hardcore communist like Linder to entice people into a Capitalist endeavor like a cafe. Since the place was filled with ponytailed sandle wearers who were obviously far more enlightened than my wife and I we decided to pass on the Ben Linder Cafe.

I didn't get the name of the next restaurant we stopped at but I wish I had. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the bombshell hanging from the ceiling stating this was the bomb that blew this restaurant up. I should have known that was going to be a bad sign but, hey, we were hungry. We sat down and after an enternity a waitress finally came over. I asked if they had Diet Coke and she said "No" and walked away. There was no "would you like something else" or "no, but we have x, y, and z" just a plain old "No". After a few minutes the waitress came back to the table and began arguing with my wife. Since it was rapid-fire Spanish I had no idea what was being said. Finally, the waitress stormed away and my wife said, "C'mon, we're leaving." When we got outside my wife told me that the woman told her that she was a "traitor" to Nicaragua for being with a gringo among other things. Are you starting to understand why gringos don't come to Leon now?

While I was still fuming about what the commie wench had said to my wife we happened upon the restaurant El Sesteo. It's actually right across the street from the cathedral and turned out to be a great find. The food here is great and they make one of the best steaks I've had in all of Nicaragua. (I'm getting hungry writing this) The service is great here as well as the atmosphere.

I will say it was an interesting trip to Leon. This is the first place that I've been to in Nicaragua where I've felt outright hatred for Americans and it wasn't very pleasant. The city itself, however, is beautiful and well worth a visit.


Ben Linder Cafe
Ben Linder Cafe
Hotel La Perla
Hotel La Perla
The Bomb That Blew Up This Restaurant
The Bomb That Blew Up This Restaurant
Cool Statue
Cool Statue
Best Steak In Nicaragua
Best Steak In Nicaragua
Great Food
Great Food
View From The Restaurant
View From The Restaurant
Who Let The Gringo In
Who Let The Gringo In
Restaurant El Sesteo
Restaurant El Sesteo
Restaurant El Sesteo
Restaurant El Sesteo
Sunset Over Leon
Sunset Over Leon


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