León – The first stop of Central America

Our first stop of Central America was León and after 4 flights, a cramped minibus and one too many Adam Sandler movies, we arrived at the large bus station of the second largest city in Nicaragua.

Germany airport photo
The first of 4 planes completed, think that deserved a celebratory photo


Not having any experiences of this part of the world, or long-term bus travel we initially had no clue what we were doing. I used all my phone data to get into the central part of town because, as of yet we had not discovered the wonders of maps.me, but finding the hostel was a little more difficult. Our aim was to stay at Bigfoot hostel which is famed for its volcano boarding excursions, which we were both keen on doing. However, after too much time walking in circles, we admitted defeat and stumbled across a hostel offering beds for $5 a night. The owner was a lovely old man who knew no English and spent his days sat in the patio area watching TV on a tiny and ancient machine. We had the hostel to ourselves and despite the facilities being a little bare (the shower was a hose attached to a wall) the beds were fairly comfy and the man was welcoming. We asked for directions to a supermarket because, quite frankly I could’ve eaten the entirety of Brendan right there and then. However, we were incapable of following instructions (on multiple occasions) and so returned empty handed. We returned to see that the owner had the Euros on and was watching the England vs Iceland game. Of course, we couldn’t miss it and so sat down for some excitement. What came instead was shocking. It was England falling to pieces and Iceland, the nation known for its volcanos and not for its footballing excellence, walking all over us. This was the second blow to my sense of national pride in a single week, due to Brexit occurring just a few days before.


Hostel room in León
Our bedroom for the night in León wasn’t a looker but was just what we needed after a long 48 hours


After the football had ended and Brendan was in a state of despair, we decided to sleep and relax, conserving energy for dinner that night.

Our general opinion of León so far was that of slight disappointment. The state of the city seemed a little run down without many sights, but admittedly our view of the city wasn’t that wide ranging because we weren’t adventurous enough to explore that far, also the lack of maps and food was slowing our progress.


Yellow church in León
We may not have seen much of León but we did see this impressive church, which whenever we visited, had a tonne of children swarming around it going to school next door


Colourful houses in León
Pretty streets but devoid of people and even worse, devoid of supermarkets


There was a light at the end of the tunnel though. That light was the soft and tender embrace of food. We had spied a promising road for food while looking for possible volcano boarding excursions and supermarkets earlier in the day. On our return, we decided on a small eatery which was empty apart from four old men playing chess. We instantly felt relaxed there, it had a chilled and local feel to it and no one spoke any English (like many places in Nicaragua). I ordered tacos which were unlike any tacos I’d had before and Brendan had quesadillas. They were both incredibly tasty. A golden brown crispy outer shell completely enclosed the main ingredients of meat and rice. We sat there with two beers and tucked in, completely content. After getting the bill and seeing how ridiculously cheap the food and beer was, we got another beer each and enjoyed the atmosphere of the bar that was filling up with locals.

The waitress of the restaurant was very interested in us and our plans, so we had as good of a conversation with her as we could manage with our still fairly broken Spanish. Brendan quickly described her as the love of his life but in the end, we had to leave and Brendan had to let another lady slip through the net. Whether he can find someone else with which he can have such a deep, possibly even spiritual connection with, during such a fleeting encounter is yet to be seen, but we are all rooting for him. Well I am, because of my very serious £5 bet that he’ll get married before 40. Losing is not an option. Win by any means possible.

The evening was nice and cool and we headed for the square close to the hostel and chatted for a while before heading back. Our original plans were to stay in León for more than one day but after reading more about Laguna de Apoyo we decided we’d push on to there the next day.


Final thoughts


León was definitely the least memorable part of our stay in Nicaragua but, it was our first. We were still becoming accustomed to everything and so probably didn’t make the most out of the city. We didn’t go volcano boarding on Cerro Negro in the end but that money was well spent later in the trip, so I just like the singer-songwriter and future world leader Dappy so wisely said in 2012, ‘No Regrets’.

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