Leon is Hot Hot Hot

Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
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14
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Trip End Jun 20, 2006


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Where I stayed
Bigfoot

Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Tuesday, March 7, 2006

According to our Spanish teacher, it is the hottest place in todos de Central America. She says it is due to the Spaniards chopping down all the trees and shipping them to Peru (actually, indigenous slave labor did the actual chopping, the Spaniards just ordered it). It doesn´t seem to make sense that they would haul trees that far away, maybe we misunderstood, but we did say "¿Peru?" quite a few times.

Between noon and five, walking more than a couple blocks is out of the question, unless you are into vomit and dizziness. We had imagined that we would spend the afternoons exploring Leon and taking busses to the outer attractions such as Leon Viejo (the original city of Leon, which was buried a la Pompeii in a massive volcanic explosion), but alas, we mostly sit in hammocks in the Hostel, occasionally venturing out to the corner ice cream store.

Life is pretty good at the Bigfoot Hostel. Our room is a bit.....rustic (I have learned to dread the word!)....sort of mangy and rough concrete floors. But it has a real mattress that isn´t a lump-o-rama, and it is larger, and best of all it is actually pretty cool in the evenings. There is a cashew tree in front of our room. We will post a picture of the Martian cashew fruits, which are damned strange. There is an actual fleshy orange fruit that sort of resembles a mango and from the bottom of this fruit dangles the actual nut pod, which is a sort of gray-green.

There is a semi-resident Nicaraguan tattoo artist at the hostel who drives a fully restored Triumph motorcycle. We were horrified yesterday to find him tattooing some guy.....with a prison tat system. We´re talking guitar string, ball-point pen, tape deck motor, and a lot of electrical tape. We have seen him working on at least four people. He "sterilizes" the guitar string by running it through the flame of his zippo lighter. He uses printer ink for the actual tattoos. Cancer anyone? Not to mention Hepatitis, AIDS, etc. Hardly anyone seems to think that this is strange here.

This morning we saw a guy getting a tattoo of an anthropomorphic hamburger. You didn´t misread that. It wears shorts, and waves its wee hand across the dude´s back. It is titled "hamburgesa rapida". Yup, that is also tattooed on the guy´s back.

Brilliance in the nomad-set.

Very few people travelling down here sport zero tattoos or strange piercings. Lip piercings seem especially hip in the Germanic set, while f$%"·ed up hair stylings are popular among the Frenchies. Think....dread-mullet. Not kidding.

Missed-the-boat Mark has found us again, made it to Leon yesterday. He´s busy these days chatting up a young Austrian with pink hair. Miraculously, he had received the note we left with a girl on the dock in San Jorge. He said that he saw "three hot girls" walking towards him, and they said "Mark?" He thought he´d somehow won the lottery. They gave him the note and left. Apparently, the tales of his prowess had not preceded him.

Spanish classes are good, though they are sort of a slap upside the head as to how little we really know. Our teacher tells us many interesting stories, such as the one about the nasty trichinosis outbreak a few years ago. She also warned us against eating any pig products except from the supermarket or in better restaurants, where they purchase inspected pork. Yum. That, together with the heat, has made us lose our appetites for the day.

We have yet to fall prey to the diarrhea gods, yet we keep expecting it, and occasionally pushing our luck. Andrew tried a tamale at the mercado today that was filled with....nothing. Just masa, not even any salt. But it only cost 1 cordoba, around $0.06 US.

Leon, like Granada, has a party bus. The one in Leon has the top cut off and strings of Christmas lights in its place. The one in Granada was better, though. The windows had been cut out so that it was mostly open on the sides, and a large sound system and generator took up the back 1/4 of the bus. A DJ spun records from a small stage between the massive speakers.
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Comments

juliaball
juliaball on

greetings from Portland
J&A:

I am enjoying your commentary, and reading your travelogue makes it hard not to hit the road.

Are you able to discuss history with local people? As you know, U.S. political and military history in Central America is embarrassing and shameful for American travelers--and sometimes hard to escape. However, I have found that most people still distinguish between the American people and their government.

Here is a reading recommendation for your return: 1491 by Charles Mann. It is a review of current thinking about the complexity, sophistication and dense populations of civilizations in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans. It is probably an update of what you studied in anthropology, and I have thought of you as I have been reading it.

I think you will enjoy the Mayan culture as you move north. We look forward to reading your comments from Honduras and, especially, Guatemala.

All the best. Robb

Nick Matyas on

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