An 8 hour bus from Tegucigalpa to León, the TICA bus drop me off at a petrol station on the highway, I took a taxi to Hostel Sonati. It is a very nice and tranquil hostel with a hummingbird garden in the courtyard. Every day we see hummingbirds. :-) This hostel profits finance their FREE environmental activities for thousands of local school children. Staffs are very friendly and some of them are volunteer.
León itself is very pretty, another colonial town with lots of churches and museums. Something extra here I noticed was there was numerous amounts of boutique shops on the street. It’s more than any other city I’ve seen. Later found out that León is known to be a University town of Nicaragua, with a concentration of young people.
The currency in Nicaragua is córdoba. The exchange is US$1=C22. US$ is commonly used here, we could withdraw US$ from any ATM machine.
Next morning, I visited the town, the main attraction here is the grand Cathedral of the Assumption, built from 1706 to 1740, with two towers added in 1746 and 1779. In the year 2011, the Cathedral of the Assumption was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are a number of tunnels that connect this church with other churches in León.
There are many churches around León town just walking distance away, I went to at least 7 of them. They are all colorful and unique at its own way. The weather is not great, with slight drizzle and overcast. In the afternoon, I went to the post office to check out the postage fees to Asia, I’ve been carrying some souvenirs with me since Mexico, I need to send them back coz it’s filling up my bag pack. :-( Well, the postage here is cheaper then Guatemala and Honduras! For 1.5 kg, it only cost US$18! :-) The next day I went to do some shopping, bought more stuff for everyone back home. Finally got it packed and sealed and sent off. It will take about 6 weeks to arrive. Hopefully it will arrive!
This afternoon, I have signed up for the most popular sports here - Volcano Boarding. It involves carrying a home made wooden board weight about 5kg up the 728m high active volcano called Cerro Negro (Black Hill), putting on a jump suit, gloves and goggles and slide down the 45 degree slope of the volcano.
We left at 3pm after a slight drizzle, we all jump into a truck for a 45mins ride to the foot of the black volcano. We started trekking up the volcano from the Park office, walking on loose rocks and pebbles with that heavy board. We first reach the ring of the old crater with a magnificent view of the surrounding. Here we drop our board and bag and walk down to the old crater, in the old crater there are still hot sulfur smoke puffing out from the ground. Then we continue our climb with our board up to rim where we are going to slide off and then walk to the highest point of the rim to have a look into the new crater. We were very lucky that day, the sun just appeared from behind the cloud before setting into the horizon. It was breath taking. The guide then brought us to the slope where we will all slide down, it was pretty scary looking at it from the top. :-C We were then given a quick briefing on how to use the board, how to slow down, brake and maneuver. The boys went first while I took some photograph of them zooming down. We have 2 options going down, either we stand like we are snowboarding or we sit. I chose to sit down because I have only tried snowboarding once and I felt badly. :-( But sitting down creates more speed! I went last but I zoom pass all of them and tumbled a few times when I could not straighten my board. Luckily we had the jumper and gloves to protect us from scratches by the pebbles, but the dust covered my whole body from head to toes. I think I must have swallow some too. :-) It was great fun!
The next couple of days were rainy and cloudy, I didn’t want to move and I did nothing! :-)
Finally on the Sunday, the sun was out. Eric arrives from El Salvado and I met Alice from Australia few days back. We went to the nearby San Jacinto Hot Spring. A few kids were very helpful showing us where to go. We knew about this before we arrived. The field is no huge, about the size of half football field, boiling mud holes in all sizes, connected probably to the Telica volcano. The kids told us that the mud is good to threat skin disease. Hmmmm….
Back from the hot spring, we decided to go watch “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. It is in English with Spanish subtitles. For 2 hours I felt like I was away from Latin America, it was nice feelings. :-)
There are a few things that I missed in León, I wanted to do the Quetzal watching & Rainforest tour. It is a 2 days tour in the cloud & mountain rainforests of northern Nicaragua. The tour combines wildlife watching and rainforest ecology. Unfortunately the weather is too bad, we cancelled the trip. I also wanted to do the Telica volcano – trekking to see lava but there were no other people sign up for the trip. :-(After 6 days here in León, I have to move on… next to Masaya.
AccommodationsLeon – Hostel Sonati (http://www.sonati.org/en/) – US$6 for a dorm bed with kitchen
TransportationsTaxi from TICA drop off point outside Leon to Hostel Sonati – C40 per way
Chicken bus to San Jacinto Hot Spring – C12 per way
RecreationsVolcano Boarding with Sonati Tour – US$26
Entrance to San Jacinto Hot Spring – C44 per person
Guide from kids – C20 per person
Movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – C58