Sandino Vive!

Trip Start Feb 06, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Sunday, March 26, 2006

So Im now in Leon, after some fairly long and dusty bus trips yesterday, and some hassles at the Honduran-Nicaraguan border. Imke and I arrived there in a 15 seater bus, and as the only foreigners there were immediately mobbed by about 20 or 30 men offering us rickshaw style taxis or to exchange our money. We made it through the border with a bit more hassle, and with our wallets about $10 lighter (exit and entrance fees, tip for taximan).

Very soon after the border the chicken-bus we were on stopped and about 5 guys ran out from the bushes where they were hiding with a donkey, carrying big black bags they proceeded to load onto the back of the bus. We stuggled to keep an eye on our backpacks while these bags were piled all around us. I guessed they were smuggling and turns out i was right - they were bringing clothes from honduras to sell, and said only large companies were allowed to. There were a few more transfers of contraband along the way to avoid police check points.

The scenery was gorgeous, the sun setting through the clouds next to a looming volcano, while we rattled past flat, scrubby farmlands (mostly cattle) containing small houses and smaller shops. It was a bit heartwrenching though to see all the rubbish lining the roads, which seemed worse than honduras or even guatemala, and see rubbish flying from our bus every couple of minutes.

So were now in Leon, and on first impressions it seems great. The colonial style streets remind me of Antigua, Guatemala, but without all the tourists and travel agencies. The centre of town seems fairly quiet but with enough life to it, and there looks like there are some great little bars and cafes to check out. You do get hassled a little bit in the streets, but it doesnt seem to be too dangerous. Ill probably elaborate on this once ive been here a bit longer.

Im intrigued to try to learn something of the politics of here. Leon and the area surrounding is Sandinista heartland, and played a large role in the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship and then in the Sandinista Revolution. Sandinista (FSLN) posters are up on poles all around town, but more interesting is the radical graffiti and murals that attest the to the living dissent in Leon. Am hoping to find some locals i can talk politics with - and learn more about their interpretation of what im seeing over here.
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