Rest day in Leon! This city is filled with beautiful cathedrals, including the largest one in Central America! We do a bit of exploring and purchase some delicious fruits and veggies at the large market.
In the afternoon we meet some fellow travelers at our hostel, Hannah and Dave. Turns out it's Dave's birthday today! We use this as an excuse to make extravagant ice cream sundaes. While enjoying these treats we meet some other travelers, Elliott and James, who happen to know Jake Preston (a friend from High Trails). This random connection inspires an evening full of funny stories.
We sleep in a bit, enjoying our quiet room. Heading out of the city there's a lot of traffic, but thankfully we have a nice shoulder. The only other vehicles we have to pass are several horse drawn wagons. Although this at first seems outdated, these people are certainly better off than those we saw in Guatemala who carry everything on their backs.
After a while, our road curves and traffic decreases. There is a lot of construction going on. We pass several areas where the two lane road becomes one lane but there are no signs or flaggers. It seems that the person who honks the loudest has the right of way. The scenery is remarkably remote. This is the first place in Central America where we haven't seen houses lining the road. Instead we pass large quiet farms and ranch land. It's quite nice. Progress is slow however due to a number of steep hills, a headwind, and typical extremely hot weather.
Late afternoon we pull up to a small store to get things for dinner and start talking to a guy named Carlos. He overheard that we were looking for a place to camp, and immediately offered the yard of his house. We were quite lucky to meet him! His house is beautiful, with a tremendous view over Managua, the lake and volcanos. He owns two personable scarlet macaws and three tiny Doberman pinchers. Most importantly, he's a great guy with lots of interesting stories. After attending college in Iowa, he lived and worked in the US for many more years and won a number of important law cases, including one in which he sued the casinos of Los Vegas! Quite a character.
It's cool and windy all night, a nice change from the usual hot, stuffy weather. For breakfast Carlos shares a delicious watermelon with us. Then it's time for goodbyes, thanks again Carlos! And we roll out. Our day begins with a descent to the outskirts of Managua, and then, since we're not going into the city, we turn and immediately begin to climb back out of the valley. It turns into, a hot, long, steep climb that we weren't really expecting. Luckily, we have delicious fresh tortillas, cheese, and mangos to sustain us. At the top our road skirts an extremely windy ridgeline where we can see the ocean! Thankfully, as we begin to descend, the wind diminishes a little. We stop for a lunch of rice and beans in a small town. After lunch we pass at least 30 shops selling furniture. If only we needed a new rocking chair! There are so many choices. Even though we haven't done a lot of mileage, the heat is very draining. We are ecstatic to discover that the last 20km are all downhill! Once in Granada it's easy to find a cheap hostel for the night. We meet two friendly travelers, Rachel and Jen, and make a fantastic dinner of pasta and veggies.
We need another break from the heat so we're taking today to enjoy the pool at our hostel and do some errands. We decided to buy some corn flour and make our own tortillas as well! For our first try, they turned out pretty well.
Granada is yet another city filled with beautiful old architecture and a bustling market.
Check out Danny's flicker page as well!