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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Nicaragua Part 13

    Saturday, August 26, 2017
    Granada to Leon, Nicaragua

    Boarding the mini-van from Managua to Leon, Nicaragua.
    Boarding the mini-van from Managua to Leon, Nicaragua.

    Around 11:00 am, I checked out of the Hostel El Momento and walked a couple of blocks down to town square in Granada, where, amid shouting touts, I hopped on a bus bound for Managua that, in size, fell between a mini and a regular sized bus. Even though it was a long distance bus, it behaved like a city bus, stopping often to let people on and off. The further we went, the more crowded it got, until a bunch of people were standing in the packed aisle. I finally had to put my big backpack on my lap so a lady could sit down. After a while, it got heavier than a giant wooly rhino in heat, so when the lady next to me got off, I shoved it down in between my legs.

    Colegio La Asunción in Leon, Nicaragua.
    Colegio La Asunción in Leon, Nicaragua.

    After an hour or so, we finally pulled into a small, chaotic bus terminal in Managua, where everyone hopped off. Amid the usual dust, food stalls, hectic shouting touts and loud honking horns from trucks, buses, mini-vans and taxi cabs, I located an area that was, luckily, covered by a roof to block the brutal mid-day tropical sun. There, I stood at the back of a long line of people who were waiting to board a series of white mini-vans bound for Leon that showed up two at a time every 15 minutes or so. A whole crap load of food and drink sellers ambled by every minute or two, shouting loudly to offer their items to anyone and everyone.

    Parque Ruben Dario in Leon, Nicaragua.
    Parque Ruben Dario in Leon, Nicaragua.

    After 30 minutes or so, it was finally my turn to board a mini-van. The guy who had been in front of me in line sat in the front bench seat, so I, feeling quite orderly, sat right next to him. A few seconds later, he beat a tasty retreat, and stepped back outside to wait for the next van. I couldn’t figure out why until I caught a whiff of a really old lady sitting on the far side of the front bench. It smelled like she hadn’t bathed in a really long time. Because I couldn’t smell it as vividly, I just stayed where I was and let another lady sit in between us.

    The 90-minute ride from Managua to Leon was pleasant enough, meandering through some pretty countryside and past a few distant lake scenes. About halfway there, the driver pulled off into a dirt lot by a gas station just to collect everyone’s fares–nothing else, which was odd. I wonder why he didn’t do that at the beginning of the trip? At the Leon bus terminal, which had recently been soaked by a downpour, the bicycle taxi drivers were all over me as I struggled to find a dry place to put down my backpack and messenger bag so I could put on the former. I said, “No thanks” a bunch of times, but they would not take no for an answer and followed me around all over the place–even out of the parking lot and down the street.

    Street art in Leon, Nicaragua.
    Street art in Leon, Nicaragua.

    After a short while of walking in circles, I finally looked at which direction the sun was setting and, with the help of a map, got my bearings–even though there were no street signs at almost every intersection. I walked through the gritty, chaotic streets of a local market and west for 1.5 miles, trying to stay under overhanging rooftops as much as possible to avoid the scorching, energy-draining, exhausting sun. Finally, around 5:00 pm, I checked into the Lazybones Hostel, where I scored a bunk bed in a shared dorm room for $9.00 per night.

    A clown holds court at sunset in Leon, Nicaragua.
    A clown holds court at sunset in Leon, Nicaragua.

    The only problem was I had to sleep in a top bunk, because there were only two fans in the whole room–hanging from the ceiling. On the plus side, the clerk was super energetic, friendly and helpful. (But, it was a bit annoying the way he kept shouting at the TV during a soccer match.) I spent the rest of the evening walking around central Leon, shooting a few photos in the gorgeous setting sunlight, smirking at all of the little hipster shops and cafes, walking by clowns down at town square, and looking for good, cheap food, which I found at a street market and inside a commodore. I’m talking like a whole plate of food for $2.00, although the down side is some of the items that should have been hot (or at east warm) were cold.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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