After a rainy beginning in Leon, the other two days turned out o.k. Wednesday, I pretty much spent the entire day to explore the city, it's churches, old neighborhoods, and it's river walkway. There are about 17 or so churches, I lost count as to how many i visited but I think i got to about 8. I enjoyed the cathedral of Leon, the most famous cathedral in central America. The interior is magnificent with original paintings of Jesus' death march. For 10 cordobas, it is possible to go on top of the cathedral and walk all four corners to get a great 360 degree view of the town and of other churches. Many of the churches look rather weathered on the outside but the inside has been either preserved of the centuries or renovated, usually with the help of foreign money. I did venture in the church of San Juan and there I went all the way to the top where there is usually an organ. Well, there was no organ but an awful stench and lots of poop on the stairway. I turned out that this place must have been haven for bats and wasp. There was one dead little bat still hanging from the ceiling. Last night, I visited the church of recollection, a beautiful yellow building. Not that I am interested in church service but the priest striked my as being a foreigner (I suspected a German), his accented Spanish very easy to understand for me. I couldn't just leave without knowing where he is from, so I asked a nun attending the service and she confirmed that he is indeed from Europe, namely from Holland.
I also discovered my favorite desert here in Leon, torta or sopa de leche which is a desert like cake (flat cake, not the big old icing covered safeway cakes)made with milk and cheese. It is soooooo yummy that i have been wandering around town to find the cake that is usually sold around noon and gone by early afternoon. I also have been buying my own groceries for the past three days and eat food that i haven't had in a while. Especially yoghurt and lots of avocado-tomatoe salad. No rice and beans for a while. Leon does not inspire me too much, but it has it's charms. At times, it reminds me of Cuba, specifically the old colonial houses where the doors are always open and one pretty much steps into a family's living room from street. Every household has rocking chairs and usually a patio that is either messy and filled with trash or it is a green oasis. I am staying in an old colonial house that is the Quetzaltrekkers home and has dormitory room with 5 beds. We are currently 3 people in the dorm and we have use of the kitchen, satellite TV and lots of rocking chairs on the patio. We also can do our laundry there which should e done in the morning as water gets cut off frequently around noon. It's humid here so it's a pain to get your laundry dry. In contrast to Guatemala, public laundry service is pretty much non-existent in Nicargua. There are no laundry places with washers and dryers which is apparently due to the high cost of electricity.
I noticed one thing here which I just can't avoid to comment on. While walking through different towns and places, i can't help noticing men with their undershirt pulled up all the way to their chest. O.k., it's hot here and the need to get some air to their body, but please, if they at least had a sexy body and a six pack stomach. But it's a rather disgusting sight to see these men sticking out their fat bellies and wearing their undershirt like a rolled up bra. It may be even better to take the shirt of altogether at least their coffee brown back may be a little bit more esthetic. Well, I am not bitching or looking down on people, this is just an observation.
Today, I took the bus from Leon to Las Pe?tas at the pacific coast. it was a beautiful 20 minute ride through lush green underwood and fields. In Las Pe?tas, I went to the little restaurant called barca de oro which is run by Sandra, a french woman. i was planning on visiting the island of Juan Vendado, so I checked with her about possibilities of going there. She didn't recommend me walking off on my own, so I had the option of getting a kayak, hire a villager with a motorboat or go with the fishermen. I opted for the kayak out of money and tranquility reasons. The motorboat disturbs the wildlife while one can glide effortlessly and without any noise in a kayak through the mangroves. I saw lots of Kingfishers and few small blue herons. I also stopped off a small beach and talked to the guys who keeps watch at the turtle nesting grounds. The river is between the ocean and the mangrove swamps. It was a beautiful ride. Just me in the kayak, keeping watch for alligators (there were none), trying not to tip over as i only had one paddle which i had to use like a kanu paddle. I left at 10 and got back at 2:30. Back at Sandra's place, I had a cold beer, played with the dogs and admired a little baby spider monkey that got caught up in a dogs mouth and now has a broken arm and an injured hand. The little thing looks so pittyful but Sandra feeds it with milk and says his arm should be o.k. in about three weeks. Once recovered, she will release it back to mama and papa up in the mountains.
This is my last night in Leon. Tomorrow, I will leave for Managua (I am not looking forward to go there) to meet my first host family and meet up with my English friend Patricia. If all goes well, we should be heading for Bluefields with the 10PM bus.