Myths and Mannequins – León

Not much has changed in the way of arriving to Managua, except for my confidence. This was the first time I actually had to take a taxi from the airport, and Wilbur was quite persistent in getting me to use his services, which is pretty normal at any station or port. After 30 minutes of waiting, for my ride and for my luggage, I decided to take him up on his offer since neither were there at the moment. But first, he was kind enough to offer me his phone and ask around for someone that might be waiting for me, since I hadn’t met the person yet anyways.

I hadn’t noticed his air conditioning until I was in a microbus, waiting for it to fill up to take me to León. 90 degrees may not seem like much to some, but with a humidity of 85%, it feels like 120. Why did I decide to wear jeans and a sweatshirt on the plane? Why didn’t I get off the damn bus to take off my sweatshirt? I was thinking I could tolerate it, then when I took it off in the well-known-to-be-scorching León, I would be pleasantly surprised.

Two dollars and two hours from Managua, I realized I was wrong. The unremitting heat radiated from the entirely paved city. The humidity and diesel hung heavy in the air between the buildings, bringing with it nostalgia of my time in Perú and Colombia. With every street I turned on, I sought the smallest slivers of shade. Meandering around the streets left me tired and thirsty, but it was enjoyable enough that I continued for three days without taking taxis. The locals walk around in jeans and a t-shirt. I personally don’t know how they get them off, because I certainly can’t get anything off easily. I took a shower when I got there, and another that night, and another in the morning. Finally, I realized it would be smart to rent a towel (which I have the worst time saying in Spanish – toalla…).

My timid nature in new places caused me some discomfort at first, but with every place I visited and Nica I talked to, I became more comfortable. It still caused me troubles in fast-paced spaces, such as markets and street corners, but with practice comes confidence – just like the taxis. In museums and in the hostel, I took advantage of interactions with the patient Spanish-speakers, taking a moment to store the memory of confidence and the smile on my face for future times if it should be needed.

In the Revolution Museum, tours are offered with the entry by a person who fought in the revolution. It never crossed my mind that I would be able to have a conversation with someone such as this, and I was honored to hear the story from his mouth (in Spanish). León is known as the revolutionary capital of Nicaragua, and you can see it in the names, the buildings, and the street art distributed throughout the city. As with any country, there are opposing views, but one cannot to take notice of the injustice between class and race, and that has persisted throughout Latin America and the entire world by international imperial power, and not recognize the need for a change.

It follows that the Museum of Myths and Traditions would have a similar theme, since they were mostly regional legends, but it had a different tone. Six rooms of mannequins had different themes, including legends of terror, dancing, and elves. I almost skipped this museum, and I am quite happy that I didn’t, since I found it to be the most entertaining of all. It was also void of people, like many of the other tourist things I had partaken in. I’ve been told it is the rainy season, but thankfully there hasn’t been too much evidence of that.

Even the volcano had less than twenty people on it, a small number since it is the “top thing to do” in León (thank you TripAdvisor). If there were more than twenty people, I probably wouldn’t have taken notice as I trekked up the black evidence of the eruption in 1999, surrounded by green forest and butterflies. I had the pleasure of seeing and iguana and the national bird of Nicaragua, el guardabarranco. However, at the top, I was acutely aware of my fear of heights as I took in the panoramic view. It didn’t stop me from being second to board down the steep mountain side, hot dust covering my blue jumpsuit and frizzy hair, sporting shoes from the hostel mannequin and beat-up goggles. I thought I was going quite fast as I laughed the entire way down, but the video revealed otherwise.

On Thursday, I replaced the feeling of bugs, which was just dripping sweat, for actual bugs. I am almost positive that mosquitos cannot survive in León, but they thrive on the breezy coast. The Pacific pounded the coastline, the hulking waves warned the many surfers whom ignored them well into sunset. Just as the hostels throughout Nicaragua, you will only be set back five USD for a beach side dorm with a fan. Hotel Playa Roca was a lovely escape from the heat, with mostly locals, an older German gentleman, and beautiful sunsets every night. I spent the evening on the beach with pizza and Toñas, and I was awoken at 3 am to a lightning storm above the ocean.

In the morning, I practiced some overdue yoga on the beach, then took the local bus back to León. I was cheerfully startled when my suitcase was waiting for me at the hostel. It had been in Los Angeles the whole time, and the twelve hours I spent there looking for it clearly wasn’t enough. They had shipped it through my original carrier, Avianca, and someone had kindly delivered it all the way up here. I thought it was a goner.

Since I now have all my luggage, I opted for a shuttle to Granada, instead of packing it all onto the local buses. I am pretty excited for a room and a kitchen. Being plant-based has proved to be hard here in León, especially without a kitchen. However, coming to León was an excellent decision, and I would surely visit again. But for now, onwards to working!


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