Leon is my first stop in Nicaragua, after a 15 hour shuttle from La Ceiba, Honduras. The trip went well, and I got a good night’s rest after arriving to Leon at 2:00am.
Leon is a fascinating place. The architecture here is very interesting, especially the overpowering Cathedral. The main plaza is a great place to chill and relax. The city is very important for its role in the Nicaraguan Revolution that ousted the former dictator Somoza. The Museum of the Revolution on Leon’s main plaza has some interesting information regarding the revolution and Leon’s role in it.
In case you’re wondering about the lion statues in the photos, Leon means lion in Spanish – it’s somewhat of a city symbol.
There are some really fun activities around Leon, including – VOLCANO BOARDING! You hike to the top for about 1 hour while carrying a toboggan like board up the volcano. You get some great views at the top, and get to overcome your fears while looking over the edge of the volcano. You hop on the board, give yourself a little nudge, and cruise down the mountain! You’re provided with a jump suit and goggles to keep out some of the ash and rocks – but you’ll be filthy at the bottom no matter what! It’s so much fun, and I definitely recommend it to anyone travelling in Leon.
Another interesting side trip is Leon Viejo, or Old Leon. These are the ruins of the original city of Leon that was destroyed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the early 1600’s. Historically it’s very important as this is one of the few very well-preserved ruins from the colonial era. You can visit the old cathedral, government buildings, and monasteries.
There’s also a newly built monument that shows a proud native resident with dogs biting at his feet. I inquired to the significance of this, and my guide informed me that it commemorates a native rebellion, after which the Spanish defeated. The Spaniards then set their dogs loose on the natives to kill them. Quite a brutal history, but I’m glad that it can be openly presented and taught. Perhaps Canada can learn a lesson from this about its own brutal history with its native people.
From Leon I head out to the Corn Islands on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Back to the water!