Nicaragua Day 2: Leon

Leon is hot but not unbearable. The staff at our hostel are friendly, and we’ve chatted with some fellow travelers. I really enjoy the hostel vibe compared to staying in hotels – even when we speak different first languages people are open and interested to hear where you’re from and why you’re there, and it makes for such a nice atmosphere.

For breakfast we took a long walk following inaccurate internet directions in search of a cafe named Libelula. The sidewalks here are narrow and tiled/cobblestone to weather frequent earthquakes. They are frequently interrupted by ramps or stairs, or broken tiles that leave gaping holes usually filled with garbage. To cross the street you may need to descend one or two steps from the sidewalk to the street, and many of the roads are only one way. How drivers know whether a road is one way or not, we have no idea. On foot, it is interesting to try and find your way without street names, especially when Torre is in his carrier and I can’t actually see where I’m putting my feet!

IMG_20141119_090130 IMG_20141119_090202After our wanderings, we made our way back to a restaurant we’d seen the day before near the cathedral – El Sesteo. Torre was thrilled to get pancakes (served with a bit of jam instead of syrup), which I helped him finish, and Matt and I shared huevos con rancheros – delicious! After eating, Torre chased pigeons in the square in front of the cathedral and we came back to the hostel for some down time.


Over 200 years old and the largest cathedral in Central America, Leon’s cathedral is a beautiful piece of history at the center of the city.

We are both getting more comfortable and confident at using Spanish, although I realized Portuguese keeps slipping in without realizing – particularly using the word garrafa instead of botella for bottle. In hindsight, I have been speaking a bit of gibberish to our Spanish host at the hostel when I ask her for  “una garrafa de agua”… sigh.

We did end up finding Libelula and had a delicious lunch there while Torre slept on a booth in a puddle of sweat. After he woke up we went by the Eskimo store (an icecream store franchise) so Matt could buy a bag of milk to put in his coffee. There was a play area with a steep tube slide accessible via a ladder to a rickety platform. Torre was determined to try, so Matt followed him up the ladder and spotted him climbing into the slide safely. Sure enough as he popped out by the floor a split second later, he was beaming. This is not a play area that would pass any kind of code in Canada, but it could have been worse (especially if it collapsed under Matt instead of simply swaying under the weight of an adult, oh my heart) and I was happy Torre conquered it.

We also visited Park Los Poetas  – an open air tribute to Nicaraguan poets and revolutionaries featuring some statues, busts, and benches. Torre enjoyed walking along the benches and up and down the stairs. Lots of sunscreen and bug spray seem to be doing the trick so far, and we bought Torre sunglasses that fit his face. At 80 cordobas we probably overpaid, but Matt and I have not yet perfected the art of communicating on the spot with critical reasoning. I’m usually so glad to understand what is said that I can’t also calculate an exchange rate and estimate actual value.

Back at the hostel, Torre lucked into watching an episode of Bubble Guppies on Spanish Nick Jr (a tv channel for kids), and he passed a lot of time playing with his ball and examining the shells laid out in the common area. We all spent some time on the hammocks and sweating! The sun is really strong and hot from about 8am to 4pm, but we would rather be here than cold in Toronto, so no complaints!IMG_20141119_152744

Our hostel owners are Tom and Sandra, and today we met their 13 month old daughter Michele. Torre played with her in her stroller and climbed up to sweetly kiss her forehead. Today we also met John and Jasmine from Australia. They’ve traveled through Belize and Guatemala (maybe more as well) and are headed to Costa Rica after Nica. We’re hoping Matt can go volcano boarding with them tomorrow, although he was supposed to register today which didn’t happen. We’ll see. But for now we are heading to bed! It is 9:30 and 25 C and we are brainstorming home decor to capture what we love about Latin America and bring it into our apartment.


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Linda 13-12-2014, 16:01

Your travels are such a joy to read Alyssa. Torre is a real little trouper.

alyssa 15-12-2014, 21:21

I’m so glad to have readers to share our adventures with! It was the trip of a lifetime, and I hope we’ll be able to have many more!

Susan 13-12-2014, 23:12

Is that hammock in front of your hostel? It looks beautiful, like someone’s home. I agree, Torre is a travelling trouper! (I also think you and Matt are fabulous parents for just jumping in and making this trip.) I can’t believe how long he looks in that picture of him and Matt.

alyssa 15-12-2014, 21:20

Yeah, he is getting so tall! The hostel had some hammocks set up in the courtyard. The reception area is the first thing you enter off the street, then you walk through a big open doorway to a common area with couch and chairs, a TV and bookcase, then the courtyard with hammocks, which has private rooms off it (we stayed in a private room vs the dorm, which is accessed from the reception area as well). Past the courtyard is another common area with seating, a fan, and seashells Torre loved to rearrange, then at the very back of this long, narrow set-up is a kitchen and dining area.

It was a great set-up because when we were relaxing at the hostel Torre could roam around quite a bit without us hanging over him all the time. The hostel kept the gate to the street closed, so he was contained, and there wasn’t much trouble he could get into, although he did throw his ball out into the street once and Matt had to go retrieve it 🙂


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