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Monday, June 3, 2013

Bumming it out in Leon

After being dropped off at Latina after our night out on Telica, I was starving. At Silvio's suggestion, I headed to a restaurant that lies a couple blocks up from where we were. The brightly colored homes and tiendas that I observed earlier in the day were now shrouded in darkness. The occasional streetlight lit my way as I switched between walking on the road and the sidewalks.  I made a mental note of the direction I was heading as there were few observable markings in the dark to guide me back. 

I found myself at the square of the Cathedral. On the corner closest to the Cathedral door stood El Sesteo. Half believing it was closed, I approached one of the waiters, "una persona." With that, I sat down as a breeze swept through the open walls. 

I ordered the chancho con yuca, pulled pork with steamed yuca, and freshly sliced tomatoes. I recalled earlier that Miguel, our guide on Telica, said chancho also means dirty. Whatever that implied about my dish, I didn't want to know.  Finally glad to get a real meal in, I devoured the plate and headed back to Latina, where Latin music greeted me even before I rounded the street corner. 

And so that was the end of day 1 in Nicaragua. 

Day 2 was bound to be more restful. I "slept in" until eight. With the intention of walking through the neighborhoods, I filled my water bottle and headed out the gates.

The diversity of modes of transportation on the streets of Leon span from the classic car to bicycles to bicycle taxis to modified pickup trucks to former school buses. More on the latter two later. 

Though its streets are not heavily trafficked, Leon has a number of alto, stop, signs that are only occasionally followed. Instead, drivers rely on the honking system (my hypothesis) to alert pedestrians and other traffic of their presence. Luckily, the beeping of the horns are short and of a more pleasant tone than those that grace New York City. 

At the square in front of the Cathedral of Mary's Assumption, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an exemplary piece of Spanish colonial architecture, I could hear music coming from within as neatly dressed parents with their children in tow marched in for church. I was tempted to go in, but given my sandals, shorts, and t-shirt, I decided otherwise. 

Hungry, I happened upon Le Turon, a French cafe and restaurant. As its only patron at that moment, I was granted the full attention of the waiter. He recommended that I get the breakfast of champions, an omelet with bacon, onions and peppers. I acquiesced and added on coffee, which I was informed was grown, harvested, and grind in Nicaragua in an area just a couple hours north of Leon.  The dining area stretched out into an open courtyard, giving it natural light as well as the occasional breeze. 

Afterwards, I walked through the city once more, making stops at the numerous cathedrals across the city. In fact, too many to detail out here. 

With the heat on me, I went back to Latina for more R&R but not before making another appearance at the bakery I had previously encountered upon and at La Union (aka Wal-Mart).  Once back at Latina, I chatted with a fellow American from Louisville, Kentucky who was making his way down from Cancun to Brazil over the span of 18 months, just in time for the World Cup. There were two others from the States, but they seemed less incline to talk so I left it at that. 

With another stop at Le Turon later that evening for dinner, the rest of the day was history. 


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