We planned to meet Avinoam, a friend from New York, in Leon on Saturday morning. He is in Nicaragua staffing a teen trip and had a day off which he chose to spend with us in Leon. We woke up in Granada and we were still recovering from our illness but pushed through to make the journey to Leon. We wanted to splurge on the direct shuttle for the 2.5 hour journey but they only leave once a day and would get us in too late.
We caught a minibus to Managua and from Managua we caught another bus to Leon. We met Avinoam at our hostel and walked around a bit, caught each other up, and grabbed lunch at a small cafe. Avinoam gave us a history lesson of Nicaragua which helped to explain a lot of what we had seen around the country. If we get any of this wrong, we defer to him.
Leon is the capital of the revolution which was student led initially. There is a long back story of course with years and specific events but I won’t dive into all that. The Sandinistas were the revolution party which overthrew the American backed dictator at the time. There are murals all over Leon commemorating the heroes of the revolution and telling the story of the Sandinistas. We also learned that the current president who is running with his wife as vice president, hello house of cards anyone, was a hero of the revolution. His policies are socialist focused on universal healthcare and free education but the country is also very corrupt. He is running for a third term as he just changed the constitution to allow for longer presidential terms. It is really interesting to learn about the culture and history here especially in how it differs from American culture and history.
The people here seem generally happy and as with most Latin America cultures, they are extremely warm and inviting. There is a strong sense of hospitality which is really different from what I experienced in Vietnam. It is not that the Vietnamese are unwelcoming but I think they have more of an infrastructure for tourism and react differently to tourists in their country. Nicaragua is still developing its tourist industry and there is a lot of opportunity for expansion and growth if they decide to go down that path. Costa Rica has become a huge place for tourism in Central America for example. We decided not to visit Costa Rica for that reason among a few others.
Avinoam had to leave around 2:30pm so we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hostel so we could relax a bit. Leon is much hotter than any other city we have been in and combined with our feeling under the weather, we needed to lie down and take it easy. We eventually forced ourselves to go out and get food for dinner after which we came back and went to bed.