Saturday, February 11, 2012


This is the church in León, the largest in Central America. Let me catch you up on recent eventa, loyal readers of ShapiroAdventures. After an evening of sleepless sleeping in our hotel in Managua, we decided to head out early. Turned out our baño privado was actually shared by way of a second door with a few other rooms of the hotel, so we decided not to be repeat customers. We flagged down a taxi and went to the Huellas de Acahualinca. According to their website they open at 8:00 in the morning, however upon arrival we were informed by the security guard that the opening time is at 9:00. We had decided to take a cab because Acahualinca is a bad neiborhood by Managuan standards, which means that we were happy to share some leftover snacks wih the security guard since he opened the heavy metal gate and let us hang out inside the musuem before everyone showed up. The musuem is very small, but pretty unique. The scientists believe that some Asian nomads were travelling through that area towards a water source when a nearby volcano erupted, spewing ash everywhere. Chance would have it that it would rain shortly thereafter causing this group of nomads' footprints to harden and remain until their discovery about 6000 years later. There are footprints from about a dozen humans and a number of animals. Throughout all the other strata, there aren't really any other indications of humans until about 800 years ago, most likely because the same combo of volcanic ash and subsequent rain did not occur with great frequency. This project also has international support, our tour guide mentioned the governments of Japan and Spain especially. It was a quick tour and afterwards we first encountered what we had heard was Nicaraguan kindness. We explained to our guide that we were going up to León via the UCA station, pronounced ooka, and he was kind enough to walk us down to the bus station (basically an unmarked corner) and explain that we shouldn't pay more than 5 cordobas in total for the two of us (about 22¢). After waiting for a few minutes we ended up just taking a cab since we had all our backpacks with us, but we appreciated his help nonetheless.
Here in León it is hot, the heat is everywhere, even taxi drivers buy little bags of cold water from street venders. There is a part of town where three or four hotels are located so we went there first, they were all basically full, but we managed to snag two dorm beds and set about a self-guided walking tour of the city. We came upon another hotel on the other side of the catedral which we ended up moving into since they had a private room with private bathroom as well as all the other amenities for the same price we were paying on the other side of town. We had a delicious lunch at Comedor Lucia, and dinner at the more expensice ViaVia cafe, not sure if it was worth the higher price. Yesterday we took a rooftop tour of the cathedral where we were specifically prohibited from ringing the bells. We also went to the musuem of myths and legends. Oddly enough this musuem is housed in an old prison, and there are prison murals all over. There is a slightly disturbing amount of pride in the manners of torture and prisoner treatment, especiallu considering that it was so recent and many of these people are still around. Across the street from the musuem is what looks like ancient ruins, but is actually a church that was bombed in the 1970's.
This morning we went to the Ruben Dario musuem, Dario is Nicaragua's most famous poet. We also went to Fundación Ortiz, a local art musuem with many signed Picassos and so forth. Tonight here is an opera being performed in the central park which we managed to catch a bit of the rehearsal last night, we will probably head over in a little bit. We have also signed up to see a rooster fight tomorrow, we will let you know who wins.
The hotstel we are staying in now is owned by a Dutchman, named Harrie, who says he travelled the whole world and never felt at home anywhere more than in León. He and his wife, also Dutch, are expecting their first child and he told us all about life here and how he plans to raise his child Nica, "with a touch European". Apparently there are many Europeans living here, some who send their children back to their home country to live with grandparents or other relatives half the year to keep up with language and other schooling. While life here isn't a retiree's paradise, "You don't come here to save money," Harrie said, its a nice city and a good life. He warned us that if we didn't have a specific time table and spent more than six days here, we might never leave. He could tell from my passport on check-in I had a Dutch (maiden) name, but I told him I spoke little dutch - just some words (mostly food items) and a children's song. I sang him "Klap in je hanjes" to teach his unborn child.

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