Farewell León

Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  , Granada,
Thursday, October 7, 2004

Well, after 3 months, I finally packed up my things and left León. There are still some places I want to see in Nicaragua so last week I made the quick trip to the immigration office in Managua to extend my visa an extra 30 days. Originally, I was supposed to exit the country on Oct 3rd but this was too much of a rush. Strangely, on the way to the immigration office, I think I spent more time in taxi cabs trying to get there than with the officials in the office.  The process to get an extension was almost as easy as ordering from a fast food joint. And the taxis themselves were an adventure.  My first driver had a habit of looking to see where we had just come from rather than where we were going. Those familiar with the procedures of driving know this is not the recommended technique.  The result?  A paint scraping side swipe of another cab. Angry facial expressions were the only exchange between drivers since exchanging insurance papers  probably just happens in the movies.  Seconds later, we almost ran down a fearful, wide eyed pedestrian. I think I said "ten cuidado" (be careful) and pointed at some obstacle or other collision causing device ten times in the first minute with that driver. At least his brakes worked.  My return to the bus terminal was in a taxi without shock absorbers. The driver maintained an extremely slow pace as even the smallest bump in the road would catapult the car into an unstoppable fit of bouncing down the street. That ride ended a block away from the bus terminal with a flat tire.

Last week, a magnitude 5.2 earthquake shook the whole Pacific Coast of Nicaragua and I felt it all. It is amazing how the earth can just move under your feet!  

Quetzaltrekkers, the organization I volunteered for in León, just moved their office into a new house and had a housewarming party combined with a going away party for me. It was a lot of fun and I was the victim of my first piñata. This also gave me a chance to say goodbye to the many people I know here. The time I spent in Leon has been great but there´s so much more to see in this amazing country.

As I write this, I´m in Granada and will use this as a home base for exploring some other parts of Nicaragua until I cross the border into Costa Rica.
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