A Mountain of Contrast

I’ve completely lost track of time.  I just consulted my digital calendar to realize that today is my 11th day in a country that possesses rich architecture, history and terrain.

The people, including those over 20 years old, who, at an earlier stage of their lives were forced to endure deadly civil strife, seem incredibly peaceful.

This small land, which still has the biggest in area in Central America, is beginning to grow on me.

I’m residing in my third city, where everything has changed so much.

I started in Managua, a metropolis that I’d only read and heard mediocre things about at best, while most of the stuff written and said were negative. Still, I stayed for two days and three nights solely for the challenge of finding something good, something worthy.

I stayed at the Backpacker’s Inn, owned by a gringo, where absolutely no one would speak Spanish to me.

Around the Corner From Where I Was Staying

In León, I stayed near the city center, where music blared until the wee hours of the night, forcing me to stay up and read, even though I was too exhausted, save for the two nights that I did imbibe in the über-suave Flor de Caña rum, which Nicaraguans claim is the best on earth. They may be right, but if they’re wrong, this allegation can not be far from the truth.

Beautiful, colonial León is fraught with backpackers. The majority seemed to be there to party nightly until the early hours. Granted, most of them are younger than me, and, after all, for a person from a wealthy country, cigarettes, beer and rum are dirt cheap.   León is also a university town.

León and Managua are hot as hell. Don’t forget your shades, cake on the sunscreen, and don’t stop hydrating. For a person like me, with a half-bald, half-shaved head, cover it, or risk that the potent UV rays will penetrate into and through your skull, potentially causing irreversible neurological damage.  🙂

I’d spoken Spanish with locals in León, but more often than not, I was around Europeans and North Americans as I stayed at Siesta Perdida, owned and run by a kind Dutchman named Harry.

Some people there spoke Spanish, however, since English is my mother tongue, that’s all anyone would speak to me in.

Now, in the mountain town of Matagalpa, the temperature is ideal. This city of 420,000 must rank as having one of the most perfect climates on earth.

I’ve noticed only a handful of tourists.

Here in Matagalpa, I didn’t speak English for the first 24 hours, until I met a purely bilingual guy who has US and Nicaraguan nationality, and whose in-laws run the very comfortable Hostal del Rey where I’m staying. Here the doors close at 10am. It’s very quiet and I’m mostly immersed in Spanish.

Compared to my last two destinations, Spanish far outweighs English, I go to sleep at a reasonable hour, and the heat isn’t oppressive. This is the Nicaragua that’s starting to grow on me.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Its good to hear you are finding peace of mind in Nicaraga.


  2. Thanks for the stroll through the hills, it was a refreshing escape from my air-conditioned routine…


    • Routine does have its place though. I think you and I are complete opposites in that regard as the word doesn’t exist in my vocab right now. A happy medium would be nice…


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