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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Leon, The city that grows on you like a stray dog

At first I didn't like Leon. Another dull one horse Nicaragua town where all the streets look the same.
A street in Leon, yesterday
But as I stay here longer, I'm finding there's a lot of Leon under the skin to find. The people are warm and friendly, even though most foreigners here are 'do gooders' and probably irk the locals somewhat (yes, of course 20 year old western NGO's know how to run a country much better than locals) there has been nothing but smiles and local prices all round.

Some Courtyards are lovely

Some are grubby

Others are classical

And others just chilled
And, to my pleasure, it turns out that all these ugly looking houses have lovely (or not so lovely but at least with potential) courtyards and gardens. Its a whole other city within a city.
Random nice House

Leon is full of these kind of 'diamonds in the rough'

Crocket shows off his gun, while Johnny Depp, newly homeless after 'The Rum Diaries' looks on in the background

There are dozens of good restaurants, ranging from cheap and cheerful ($5max a dish like Antonios Pizza) or posh but still quite ok price like Meson Real, its about $10 a main course, for an English speaking owner who understands service and well presented grub or El Mediterraneo (if you prefer overpriced food and truly awful service) What there isn't though, is anything in between (or at least that I've seen yet)

The foreigners seem to be here either learning Spanish or on NGO/Peace Corps 'missions' to save the world or at least save the poor Nicaraguans from themselves (Actually this may not be fair as they are mostly decent people, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions if you ask me)

The post apocolyptical filmset which is Leon

This is life for lots of people

Amazingly this church while looking like shit from the outside is beautiful inside. Just like Leon. Or like an ugly woman.
A local farmer shows off his cock on the bus. He's taking it to the Cockfight tonight
 Being a university town (with 6000 students, quite a lot for a 3rd world country) there's alway lots to do. They had Opera in the main plaza last night. And tonight there is a cock-fight. I met a random old farmer (in the pick) on the bus back from the beach (20mins away, lovely...) He was bringing his prize cock to the cockfight tonight. Well i can't go to Nicaragua without going to one so...more later on that!

The main positive thing here though is the people. All these places that look extremely sketchy, are not at all. I went to play Poker on Friday night in probably the most dangerous looking Poker House i've ever seen, but the people were courteous and kind and were truly awful players. There seems to be no greed, no locals trying to stitch up foreigners culture, even the real estate people were decent, which is a sign...
Of course shops have the ubiquitous latino 'armed guard' just in case

As for places to stay...the whole range is here - 5 star El Convento where for $90 you can have the fun of being locked out of the hotel as the guard snoozes the night away and doesn't hear you ring the gate (true story) I stayed in Lazy Bones where a dorm is about $10, a room $20 and with en suite $30. I stayed here, its a kind of hotel/hostel combo, a little quieter than the party scene hostels like Bigfoot, but with pool, wifi, hammocks and a nice relaxed atmosphere and usually running water...

1 comment:

  1. "Homeless after the rum diaries"-you slay me. haha.

    And the grubby courtyards don't look that grubby. Actually kind of like them. haha.