Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday





Tuesday October 31, 2000

I traveled from Matagalpa to Leon by minibus. The minibus costs twice the normal bus fare, but is faster (2 hours), and departs twice a day from the Parque Morazon near the cathedral.

I am a big gringo, so I paid for BOTH the front seats in the minivan! I rode in comfort with my gear securely at my side for $5. The road takes you through beautiful mountain scenery, with good views of Mombacho and Cerro Negro volcanoes along the way.

The road to Leon is in good condition, with an occasional pot-holed section. You could tell when a bad stretch was coming; children with shovels were throwing clouds of dirt in the air! This let the driver know the holes were being filled by these unofficial maintenance crews! The driver dropped a few cordobas out the window each time we passed the young entrepreneurs.

Arriving in Leon, I took a shared taxi to the Colonial Hotel. It is a pleasant old building, but the rooms were more expensive at $33 than expected.

The next day I moved to the Hotel Austria, a very new and well-run place right in the center, for about the same price. I had a nice garlic fish lunch at a new restaurant called Rinconcito Flor de Sacuanjoche. Dinner was shrimp spaghetti at the slightly trendy Taquezal restaurant.

There were Sandinista Truck Rallies in the streets, speakers blaring. Tomorrow would be the final day of campaigning for the upcoming elections. Political banners were flying everywhere, with loud explosions from fireworks.


It was also Halloween eve, with lots of young people out partying.

I asked these men in the Alamo Bar (close to Don Senor club) if I could photograph them to show the local drink of choice. First, Drinking rum in Nicaragua means Flor De Cana. This brand is famous throughout Central America; the rum factory is about an hour north of Leon at Chichigalpa.

It is just Cuba libre, rum and coke, except the rum is so smooth many people sip it like whiskey. For about $10 the bar serves up a half-bottle with bucket of ice, some colas and limes, etc. There are at least three grades of rum (aged 7 years, 5 years, or 3 years), in varieties including dark "etiqueta negra" and a lime-flavored clear rum.

The rums cost $4-7 in the supermarket for a 750 ml bottle.



Iglesia de la Recollecion, Central Leon.

Baroque facade.


Leon is the second largest city, with more churches than elsewhere in Nicaraguan. The cathedral Basilica de la Asuncion, the largest in Central America, faces the main plaza with its fountains and Lion statues.


The last day of election campaigning had arrived.

All bars and restaurants were closed, and the Sandinistas had their rally in the city center. There was a large stage surrounded by military guards, and speakers and bands rotated throughout the evening





The opposing party, the PLC, had their final rally at the Iglesia San Juan Bautista de Subtiava, about 10 blocks west of the center of Leon.






November 1, Peneloya Beach

A short bus ride from Leon, Peneloya is a typical wide Pacific coast beach.

Everyone talks about how dangerous it is to swim here.

The beach was deserted when I visited, but apparently fills up on the weekend.





Nicaragua is famous for Sandinista murals.

I saw this one with

Sandino stepping on Uncle Sam.











I got up early, had breakfast in the Hotel Austria, and walked south to the main cemetery.

As I got closer, flower stalls filled the street sides.

On the Day of the Dead, the cemeteries are filled with both workers and family members cleaning up the grave sites.



Once inside, this man with the shovel came up to me


He wanted to know if I wanted to have a grave cleaned.


I said I wasn't from here.











Visitors all across the cemetery cleaning the family graves.










Weeds are scraped up,

the cement painted,

and plants planted.








Machete Boy






Sandinista Mural

Walker and Sandino






Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday