Leon Nicaragua: Volcanoes, Churches & Murals

Trip Start Feb 01, 2012
Trip End Feb 21, 2012

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What I did
Leon Cathedral

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

We left Granada after another trip to the chocolate museum for breakfast - no chocolate crepe this time.  We had a 9:00 departure and waited for Andrew to come at the dot of nine.  He was cheered when he got on the bus. 

We drove to Masaya Volcano.  We were able to view the Santiago crater from the rim and see the sulfurous smoke and smell it too.  There was a cross at the top of a hill and you could climb something like 137 stairs, or was it 317, to get to the view on top - Mirador Cruz de Bobadilla.  This cross is a replica of the one that was historically placed here by the Catholic Friar Francisco de Bobadilla at the beginning of the conquest.  The view wasn't that much better than at the rim but you could see more of the lava rock surrounding the volcano in the countryside.  But even before we got to the crater rim, we went to a nice little visitor center on the volcano and volcanoes in general.  There were scientific explanations and photos, drawings and models of different types of volcanoes all around the world.  There were even photos and representations of flora and fauna, including a wall of bats.  I took some photos of them.

After that we drove past two volcanoes in Lake Xolotlan - Momotombo and Momotombito.  I guess I hadn't thought about all the volcanoes in Central America but now I will certainly associate Central America with volcanoes!  They are everywhere!

Our next scheduled stop was the capital of Nicaragua - Managua - but when we got out to see the park with the revolutionary monuments and statues, we were blocked out by the police.  It appears that there was a parliament meeting and President Daniel Ortega would be coming in to that area soon.  We left as soon as possible, not to be caught up in 4 hrs. of traffic.

We got to Leon about 1:30 pm. First Clare and I had hibiscus tea delivered on a tray as we were coming downstairs so we spent some time relaxing on a little patio in the upper courtyard - I think. I am not sure exactly when Lou told us not to be surprised if we came to our rooms some time during the day and found the maids sprawled out on our beds watching the soaps on TV and munching on our chocolates.  I don't know that Clare or I had any chocolates left, but we never did find the maids relaxing in any of our rooms.  I still have an image of it in my mind, though, as if it actually happened.

Clare and I went to Via Via for lunch and spent an hour and a half there.  The pace of the trip must have gotten to us because it felt really good to relax and not worry about time...too much.  After lunch, we walked around Leon and saw several churches - Iglesia Concepcion and Recoleccion.   And we also saw the Cathedral but couldn't find the statue of the famous poet Ruben Dario.  We got to the stairs for the tower and ran into Chris and Charlie who told us where the ticket sellers were.  When we went up to them, they weren't selling tickets any more.  It took awhile to find out why.  First we thought it was temporary because of the bells being rung at 4 pm.  Then we found they were closed for the day and we would be gone before they opened the next morning.  We looked at some of the craft stalls in the plaza in front of the church and bought some pottery.  Then David found us and showed us Ruben Dario's tomb in the Cathedral.  Central American politics are notable for the number of poets who have been leaders.  Here poets are looked up to and many of them have sacrificed their lives in the political arena.

We three then met Lou and the group at Revolutionary Square and Lou explained the
significance of the symbols in the big mural there.  David offered to show Clare and me the other murals on some buildings in the neighborhood of the plaza that we had missed because of our
long lunch.  David was the master tour guide for the rest of the afternoon.   We then went to a couple of churches and ended up at the supermarket where we bought some souvenir Flor de Cana rum.  Somehow it was light when we went in and getting dark as we were coming out.  I don't know where all the time or my cordobas went because I was getting pretty low on local currency by the time I left the supermarket.  We went back to the hotel where I wrote up my postcards and we went to dinner at Via Via with David and sat with Andrew.  Others were there as well.

If you haven't been aware of the history of revolution in Central America, it certainly hits you here in Leon - with the monuments, the tomb of Ruben Dario with the weeping lion, and all the murals with the martyrs, the Sandinistas, and all the symbols of the struggles.  It is so easy to forget the horrors of war, the killings and tortures.  In Rwanda, I went to the Genocide Museum and then out again and it is so hard to believe that all those horrible things happened because things looked so normal, especially to me as a tourist.   The same in Argentina and Chile.   I think it is good to be reminded.

Now it is 9 pm and we are ready for bed.  Clare got the desk to  come up and work the fan so we wouldn't have to sleep with the light on.  Explanation:  when we turned off the lights, the fan went off.  I am not sure what exactly he did, but it worked and we were happy since the room had been quite warm.

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