I hadn’t really had my sights set on visiting Leon, but on the map it seemed to make sense. It was a stop closer to our next destination (El Salvador) and it would help break up the trip. “What’s a day or two spent there?” I said to myself.
We took a three hour shuttle from Granada to Leon. I fell asleep on the shuttle and opened my eyes just as we were pulling into Leon. “Omg, it looks exactly like Granada!” I said to Tom, annoyed. It seemed that we drove three hours to be in a city that looked the same as the last one we were in. Luckily, after walking around I realised that it wasn’t the same at all.
While we were still on the shuttle, in the first 5 mins of us driving through town we saw a car crash into a parked car, our driver crash into a parked car smashing their lights and then he drove away and another car crashing into a parked motorbike and knocking it over and driving away. This city seemed cramped, polluted and just kind of..crazy from where I was sitting.
Most people come to Leon to do the world famous volcano boarding down Cerro Negro which involves a hike up the volcano and then strapping yourself into a board and flying down it at 90km. I’ve heard it’s amazing and definitely a ‘must do’. I can’t quite figure out why but for some reason I had literally no interest in doing this and neither did Tom. Since this seems to be the most appealing thing about Leon and we weren’t participating in it, there wasn’t really much else for us to do there.
When I thought of Leon before visiting it, I thought of people in Orange jumpsuits Volcano boarding and the beautiful white Cathedral I had always seen in photos. When we got to the main plaza to see the Cathedral it was all covered up in scaffolding and blue tarps. Such a disappointment! Also, did I mention the heat?! It was stiflingly hot. Hotter than Granada with no way of cooling down! A 1.5 day stay turned into a 3 day stay since the shuttle to El cuco in El Salvador only ran every other day. I couldn’t wait to leave!
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. It was the simple things like finding a movie theatre. We went and saw a movie and ate popcorn, there was a huge air conditioned supermarket with everything you could imagine (these are few are far between in Central America) and we were drinking the best smoothies ever at a place called Jugo-so just across from the main plaza which had 37 different types to choose from all for just $2.50! (The same price as Tom paid for his hair cut here). We also found an awesome, cheap hostel to stay at called Sin Fronteras where we felt like we were staying at a friends place rather than a hostel. The staff were amazing!
After much debate, we booked a shuttle to El Salvador with Gekko tours. Although it was the more expensive option ($45), I couldn’t bare the thought of battling several local chicken buses in this heat for 12 hours across three border crossings. I’m glad we chose the shuttle. There were only three of us in the 8 seater air conditioned van and we didn’t have to get out of the vehicle once, the driver did all the work for us when crossing the borders. We were picked up at 2am and drove all through the night. For the first time ever i slept though an entire country, Honduras. Now we we are in El Salvador, the last country on our Latin American trip!
2 thoughts on “Why I didn’t like Leon, Nicaragua”
It’s such a shame when things like that happen. I assume public transport to be quite bad over there. I’m struggling with it enough in Turkey!!
It’s not too bad I guess, just not exactly what I would call ‘comfortable’ haha and it always takes twice as not if not more than if you take a private shuttle. Sometimes the extra money is definitely worth it for your sanity. Enjoy Turkey!
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