We knew we would eventually have to leave the paradise of Laguna de Apoyo so one morning we packed up our bags and made our way to León. To get there we took a taxi to the main road, crossed the highway and waited for our pre-arranged shuttle ($12 USD/pp). There are much (so much) cheaper ways to get there via chicken bus or micro-bus if you need to save some coin, but don’t blink or you’ll miss your ride! These vans come clipping down the highway at around 120 km/h with the side door open and a guy with half his body out the vehicle screaming the destination as they pass you. You gotta be quick! We watched one couple board one of these buses and cringe nervously as their packs were thrown on top of the van and held down with what looked like a shoelace (the van never came to a full stop BTW.) Haha, not for us.
Day 13/14 – León, Nicaragua
The shuttle dropped us off at the door to our hostel, La Tortuga Booluda. For $20.00 USD a night, this hostel included plenty of extras at no additional costs, such as; filtered water, a clean kitchen with storage container for each guest, and a free pancake/banana breakfast. The only complaint we have was our room was excruciatingly hot. After a restless first sleep, we slept with the door open. Perhaps not the smartest thing we’ve ever done but everyone was in the same boat and the hostel was locked at night with the front door clerk on duty. September 11 was a special day for us! Kik celebrated his 31st birthday. Our friend Landon caught wind of a baseball game in town, Nicaragua’s national sport. We went to see Leones de León vs Esteli while sporting our Jays hats. How can you beat going to a professional baseball game and sitting right behind home plate for $2.65 USD? The game is stripped down with no replays, no challenges, just good old fashion baseball. The game lasted 3 hours with not a single breeze!!! It was cool to see vendors selling street food, a brass band play, and fans running wild for foul balls. Sadly, the home team couldn’t seal the deal and the away team took the W.
Day 15/16 – Las Peñitas, Nicaragua
At times it seemed as though Kik might actually melt in León. To escape the heat we would hit up banks, McDonalds or Subway, and a few grocery stores just to enjoy a few moments of AC. León was a really interesting city with a lot of history and SO MANY churches. They offered tours of the León Cathedral for $3 USD/pp where you could go on the roof and we got some amazing photos but then Kik deleted all the photos so we’re only left with our memories:) We did intend to try out volcano boarding which is “the thing” to do for stupid tourists where you climb a volcano and then literally hurtle down it on a plank of wood (reaching speeds of up to 90km/h!!!), but there was some confusion with our reservation and we were left behind. Kik wasn’t that disappointed :p
Finally the heat got to us and we left the city to be closer to a beach. We grabbed a shuttle from the Bigfoot Hostel (this is the biggest party hostel in town and has chains across Central America), which owns another hostel in Las Peñitas on the Pacific coast. Between the two, you can catch a ride on their shuttle for $1.73 USD/pp. Be warned, it’s less of a shuttle and more of a cattle cart with benches, albeit they have cushions on them (BUT IT WAS $2!!!) We stayed two nights at the Las Penitas Bigfoot Hostel ($20.00 USD/ night.) If your intentions are to party, then this is the place for you! There’s beer pong, frat boys and crop tops as far as the eye can see. If not, there are plenty of other places along the beach that are much better. Is it too much to ask to clean the (blood) stains on the bedroom floor? We didn’t love this hostel but also did no research to find one that would suit us better so serves us right. Either way, the beach was beautiful and walking distance to a rock cliff perfect for watching the sun set (¡Qué romántico!)
We left the beach to return back to León in order to catch our shuttle to Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. Unfortunately, the city is known for being a little dangerous with not much to do so we’re basically staying the night and flying out to Panama City (which is apparently hotter than Nicaragua…) It’s been a great three weeks in Nicaragua but we’re ready to make our way south.