Latest posts by Philip Santos Moreira (see all)
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León is the second largest city in Nicaragua. The first time I laid my eyes on it I was in some kind of shock because it was so shaggy looking. Every building looked to be in despair and needing repair. The streets struck me as dirty and the population of people felt slightly congesting in between the compact infrastructure. My poor mentality was a product of my narrow exposure to only European and American construction.
Now, two years and 27 countries later, my opinion is rather different. Yes, the city itself is not glamorous. But, as far as developing countries are concerned, the city is in rather good shape. My tolerance for things that are not pristine and are not European/American exponentially increased. I am thankful that I now appreciate the smaller things in life and that I do not sway so easily to the drum of the common perception of beauty.
León has charm and several churches worth taking a look at while you are there.
Church of El Calvario
Catedral Basilica of the Assumption of Leon
Church of La Recolección
Nicaraguan’s have a passion for amazing fruit smoothies which you can glamorously purchase for $1-2 USD at the endemic Jogoso Smoothie chain. This is something I not only recommend you get, but I beg you to get it (assuming you like smoothies).
Affordable full plates of food can be purchased at local buffet-styled restaurants for less than $2 USD.
The draw and highlight for those looking for some fun is most certainly the Cerro Negro volcano found to the northeast of Leon. Sarah and I booked our trip with the non-profit organization called Quetzaltrekkers (they donate all proceeds to programs for disadvantaged youth and are strictly volunteer run).
The cost in 2014 was $30 and included: transportation to and from the volcano, two rides down the mountain (this may depend on your guide but with coaxing you should have no issues getting them to go up again), and a vegetarian burrito lunch. Bring plenty of water and a sunscreen if you don’t already have a base tan. The heat is deceiving even if it is windy and you can get burned just like I did if you are not careful.
Advisory: Volcano boarding can be dangerous. People have boarded down on their feet as though they were snowboarding and have fallen, breaking their clavicle in the process. Always be careful. It is still possible to taste the volcanic rock when riding down on your backside.