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Warning: This entry is not for those faint of heart. Read at your own risk!

Our group of 22 went to Leon on a sunny hot Saturday for the weekend. We rode an hour away from Managua by van, arriving across from La Recolección church. This church was built in 1786, with a dark gold color. It today operates as a school.

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Leon

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Then we crossed the street to our destination: Hostel Colibri. The pretty hostel had tile floors, a mural of a woman pouring coffee in a cup, and a little square garden at the center. I roomed with two others in a double.

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Shortly after unpacking, I and a colleague went to explore the city, walking through a mall, clothes store, and a food market. There was quite some congestion on the market streets: A bus stop was at a corner of the markets and people inundated the streets getting on and off the bus. I didn’t snap photos of the crowded streets, but here are some street views.

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By around 11, we searched for lunch, until a place called Shawarma y mas (Shawarma and more) drew our attention. Since I don’t eat meat, I ended up getting a strawberry milkshake and tried some bread with hummus.

At some point (around noon), it started to downpour outside. It was so hard that I could hardly hear anything else. Lightning and loud crackles of thunder immediately followed. We all left the place shortly with no umbrella in hand. Having no idea where to go, my travel buddy and I were walking around town while the others headed to a beach.

Navigating Leon was difficult since the people don’t refer to street names, but rather North, South, East. And we never came across a map. We asked many people for directions to places with little to no success at times. But we managed to at least stop at a bank.

After wandering around some more, we made it back to the hostile soaking wet and planning what to do next. Then someone notified us about a Telica volcano expedition, with the booking office just a few blocks away from the hostile.

So we headed back out, with lightning strikes and loud ROARS of thunder not far away from the city (hence Leon, or lion, makes a great name for the city). Once at the office, we registered or the hike ($45.00 USD), meeting other tourists from Europe. Everyone got inside a landmaster with some gear and rode out of the city.

The ride into Telica was at least an hour and required driving through dirt, rocks, and rough roads. It got very bumpy at times, but nothing could stop the landmaster. After 40 minutes to an hour through rough terrain, we arrived at the bottom of the volcano. It still stormed, but not as severely.

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We immediately began the rainy hike up to the dormant volcano. It was very smooth at the beginning with just grass and dirt. But later on, it got very rocky and difficult. I didn’t wear my hiking shoes either, so I knew how risky this could be. At some point, there was a lightning strike not too far away from us. It was intimidating and quite frightening but it did not stop us!!! We sure took our time climbing and took small breaks. But with tenacity, we made it all the way to the crater. We took many good photos, watching smoke rise.

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We even inched forward slowly to peek at the bottom, where one could see the smoke gush out of the crater walls!  It was spectacular!

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At the opposite view of the crater, we could see mountains in the distance, hovered by clouds.

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If the weather was better we probably would have hiked further.

After about 15-30 minutes, we hiked down. Man, it was harder than I expected:  No matter where I step, it was all rocks. I went very slow, bending my knees and almost slipped! I then largely regretted that I didn’t bring the hiking shoes!

By the time we landed on grass, I said, “Thank goodness!” The hike went surprisingly well and nobody got injured. Once finished hiking, we rode an hour back to Leon through the muddy, rocky, wobbly, nausea-inducing roads one more time. It was dark with clear skies when we got back.

 

On the second day, my travel buddy and I were exploring Leon again. We encountered a man on the street who offered us a free tour of Leon in English. I was pretty sketchy about it, but my friend obliged to take the tour. Me not as much.We passed through the markets again, until we arrived at Laborio church.  I wasn’t allowed to take a photo, but here is a picture if you’re curious. But at the end, he actually was better than I thought!

After the tour, we went souvenir shopping, buying something at almost every place. One of the most interesting purchases was juice in a plastic bag! No really!

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They scoop the juice from a container into the bag, put a straw inside, then spin and tie it up. I had me an iced chocolate milk with cinnamon, and it was pretty good. And it would sell for perhaps 5 or 10 cordobas. Though now that I think about it, it was probably better to avoid the ice, since there could have been something in it that my body wasn’t adjusted to. But I’m still glad that I tried it.

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A bit about Leon

Leon was the capital of Nicaragua over 200 years ago. However, liberals and Conservatives disputed what the capital should be. While Liberals argued that Leon should have been the capital, conservatives argued that Granada should have been the capital. It today remains a tourist attraction known for its historic architecture and hiking trips.

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Quetzaltrekkers

The office where we booked our hike is named Quetzaltrekkers, a non-profit organization that goes by the slogan: “Hike volcanoes. Help Kids”. All proceeds go toward school programs and supplies. Here is a link below:

 

Sources

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