It's a time warp baby!

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Sep 03, 2008

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Where I stayed

Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We were pretty happy to leave Honduras for now but I am looking forward to coming back and experiencing what  this country really has to offer! We were not able to experience it on the way down since the stay is so short and it's more of a necessary stop for entering Nicaragua.  We got up early and got lost for a little bit before heading towards the usual!!  It's pretty crazy to do 3 border crossings in 3 days, and after yesterday it can't be much worse so we just have to buckle down and see what's in store for us when we get there!
OK, we made it through the crossing to Nicaragua and it actually turned out to be a pretty good experience; it took a long time but there were no people haggling or making us feel as if we needed to give money away left and right.
So now we're in Nicaragua!'s even stranger than being in El Salvador!! I never thought I would ever visit Nicaragua...but now we're here and it's pretty great. We are going to stay in Leon for two nights, it is one of the two biggest colonial cities here.  Nicaragua is the poorest of the countries in Central America and it is evident. Nothing is built up and there doesn't seem to be much of an infrastructure in place either. 
Leon is an old colonial town with a huge cathedral and a zocalo like most of the other cities we've stayed in, however this city looks more run down and there are almost no restaurants or services . We walked around the city a little bit and enjoyed some local food for lunch.  Here they put cabbage on everything!  Yeah for sauerkraut!
In general though it was actually a little  difficult to find restaurants at night to have dinner,  this has been the least of our problems so far!! It is difficult to get what you want here ( they just don't have a lot)...which is fine but very different from the other countries we've been in so far. The streets do not have any streetlights or grates over their sewers, which leaves  holes about 4 feet deep!! It  was the first time I felt a bit nervous being out at night,  but of course there was nothing to worry about and we did not fall down any sewers!
There was a Korean-American church group staying at our hotel and I was so amazed at what they were doing (it's the social worker in me!) They had brought with them boxes and boxes of books, paper, coloring books,  glitter, beads, crayons, and toys..anything you can imagine kids enjoying! They were visiting the schools in the poorest areas close to Leon distributing everything they brought. I loved it!!!  It did touch the social work spirit in me and made me think of what I can do to help some of the causes in this area. However,  that will have to wait until I get back to the US. I already made some connections in San Cristobal, Mexico so we'll see how that pans out!
Ok, Jess here...Malin captured the feeling pretty well, but for me, I imagine this is how Cuba must be (I've never been there), but it's obvious this is a post-oppressive regime must have had it's moments of brilliance, but it's very poor now...even in Leon, one of the major cities, there are ox-carts used for construction projects, street cleaners use "witch-brooms" made from sticks tied to a broom handle, and there is really no infrastructure to speak of.  I'm sure that Managua, the capital is more like a real city, but Leon is definitely  a time-warp like nothing I've ever experienced.
The roads are pretty crappy, but the bike handles them without a problem...the funny thing is that like in El Salvador, we are the spectacle of the town! ...with some sort of motorcycle that looks like it should have a NASA insignia on it, and with a girl (Malin) dressed in full cosmonaut-biker gear!  Women here just don't do that kind of thing...let alone her red-bearded husband...he must be some sort of moto-pirate!  So yes, we feel like we're a zoo-exhibit, but we're getting used to it...and they don't mean to be rude or anything...actually, it's our fault, we're the weird ones here!!!
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