To be honest, getting to Nicaragua was a little bit of a nightmare, with delayed flights, missing taxi drivers, and lack of sleep to wrap it all up. But since all's well that ends well, we were glad to find ourselves in Managua on a sunny Thursday morning. Now, Managua itself can only be described as a hell-hole of a city, so after a quick stop at the Tica Bus station to buy tickets to El Salvador, we were happily on our way out to the capital and headed towards Leon.
Leon is a quiet town about 90 kilometers northwest of Managua which was built up as the first capital of Nicaragua in colonial times. What makes Leon special is that most of that architecture is preserved and many of the churches especially are still in use.
|The lovely hostel Casa Ivana in Leon, Nicaragua|
During our meanderings around Leon, we especially enjoyed the raspadas sold on the streets, which are desserts of shaved ice with sweet milk and raspberry syrup - yum!
|The woman selling them even let us take a picture :)|
|At least our clothes could get cleaned...|
|The happy cook|
Our time in Granada didn't exactly get off to a great start, as it was brutally hot and I was suffering from a bit of a summer cold with sore throat, stuffy nose, and stopped-up ears. Once we had relaxed a little bit and got some warm food in us, however, I was feeling up to adventure again.
|Our lunchtime view|
|Heading out on our adventure|
|This island can be rented out for private parties|
|Care to buy an island, anyone?|
While visiting the monkey's and swimming in the lake were both great features of the tour, the very best part had to be the sunset view over the lake before our boat headed back to shore and our driver met us to take us back into the city.
|Taking a swim in the lake|
|sunset on our way back to shore|
|Traditional dancing in the city - a nice surprise!|
The hike itself up to the volcano was rather brutal in the humidity and heat. Which may have been the reason why we were the only ones making the treck by foot. Every single other tourist which we saw made the journey by car or bus. But we made it to the top by foot and the views were well worth it!
In the afternoon it was back to Managua to stay in the Tica Bus hotel before our 5:30 AM bus to El Salvador the next morning. We knew that we needed to stay near the station because it's not safe to travel around the city before the sun comes up, but even the thought of walking from the hostel to the bus station creeped us out a bit too much, so we opted for the guarded hotel attached to the bus terminal. To be honest, the hotel was rather depressing and almost unbearably hot, but at least it was safe.
Right around dusk we ducked out of the hotel quickly in hopes of grabbing some food since there wasn't anything for sale inside of the hotel. The area around the bus station gave me the creeps like no where I have ever been before and even though we were just across the street from the hotel I wanted to get back inside as soon as possible. In the end we got some warm food in our bellies and drank our cokes in a bag, but I don't think either of us got much sleep that night.
|Dinner, coke in a bag, and a very weary traveler|
|Enjoying my own coke in a bag|