Getting from Guatemala to Nicaragua was quite a mission. It was either the option of stopping off a night in El Salvador, however after reading up about it being the most dangerous country in the world we decided against risking it. We ended up taking an 18 hour bus which left Antigua at 4am and took us straight through to Leon. It was pretty grim, the bus was a small ‘colectivo’ which is basically a minibus, however due to the fact that most locals out here are under 5”7, the buses are made for miniature people. With me being 5”10, this meant Charlotte got the pleasure of my company invading half of her side pretty much the entire journey.
We finally arrived at around 9pm at our hostel which was called Bigfoot. Feeling extremely drained and worse for wear, having eaten only a greasy maccers all day, the blasting Ke$ha ‘Tik Tok’ was the last thing we hoped to hear. We were shown to our room, which ironically lived up to the name of the hostel - it genuinely smelled like a big foot, and a smelly one at that. We changed into an AC room and completely crashed until about 11am the next morning, probably the only lie in we’ve had all trip.
We spent a day wandering the streets of Leon, we found an awesome market called Mercado Central which was full of life, unreal fresh ingredients - there were genuinely avocados the size of m head. We took a visit into the famous cathedral, Basilica Catedral de la Asunción. It is one of the most beautiful sights, painted completely white against the blue sky it has such a peaceful aura just being on top. This aura was ruined when in a group photo one of our aussie mates pulled down his boxers as a joke and was rapidly escorted off the premises and asked to pay a 20 US dollar fine! Brilliant.
The main activity to do in Leon is volcano boarding - essentially sledging but down the side of a volcano wearing orange jumpsuits. We hopped into the back of the open top truck alongside 15 others. We got about 40 mins into the bumpy journey until chaos fell upon us. We were both sat at the front and I suddenly felt sharp pain on my face and wasn’t sure what it was… I then felt it over my entire body and started screaming as I realised what was happening - we had hit a bees nest which had fallen into the truck and I was covered head to toe in bees. I jumped off the moving van only to be followed by everyone else. Everyone was batting them off my face, neck, legs, and back. It was genuinely the most painful thing that’s ever happened to me, my face started swelling and I could gage how bad it was just from seeing the reactions on everyone else’s faces. Having to wait 40 mins to get back was horrific, when the ice ran out I was having to buy cold coke cans and have them rubbed all over me. The pain stopped after about 4 hours and the swelling was gone by the next day - THANK GOD. But hey, at least I know never to get lip fillers, I looked ridiculous. Despite this mishap I insisted Charlotte still went volcano boarding as we had gone all that way.
Nevertheless, following the drama, volcano boarding turned out to be pleasantly surprising. Leaving Christie at the side of the road waiting for her transport back to Leon we hopped back on the truck, which was completely covered in dead bees, and headed for the volcano. As we followed the path up the views got better and better, we eventually parked up and all got our outfits, bags and boards prepared for the hike to the top. Having taken a few group shots for memories we started the trek up the side of the volcano. It looked an incredibly long way to the top, however, we managed it with a few pit stops. One including a few vibrant characters taking there gear off and having photos taken in front of the incredible views we were witnessing. As we reached the top it was time to get serious, i’m not joking when I say this, the path we were about to go down was incredibly steep! We had an extremely brief safety talk and then we were off. One by one we got on our boards and hit high speeds, I was luckily enough to hit 39km which was apparently rather impressive.. I did however swallow a lot of volcanic soil on the way down! Overall, a great day and the beers that greeted us at the bottom were certainly deserved.
After a long day of walking/volcano boarding on Charlotte’s part, we stumbled upon a place called Seeing Hands, which is DEFINITELY worth a visit if you’re ever in Leon. It is a massage parlour in which they support and train visually impaired nicaraguans how to massage. What’s more its super affordable compared to any other massage salons we have seen.
We didn’t spend too much time in Leon but we did find a few fun spots to eat:
Pan y Paz - A french bakery which has incredible wine and cheese platters
La Nicaraguita - Good food, cheap and big portions
Pitaya - cute smoothie bar
From Bigfoot we went to a place called Surfing Turtle Lodge. It only takes about 45 mins to get there, and its an adventure to say the least. After a 20 minute taxi ride we were greeted by a man called Pablo, who looked like something out of a 90’s rap video, and taken across some ridiculously shallow water in which the boat got stuck maybe 8 times. We then followed a horse and carriage which took our heavy bags along a dirt track which we thought may never end. When we finally arrived, we knew it had been worth it. It was actual paradise (again). Our room overlooked the beach and we were woken every morning by a beautiful sunrise over the sea. Surfing Turtle is pretty isolated so you can only really eat the food from its restaurant as there is nothing surrounding it. The food is alright, not incredible so would 100% recommend taking some snacks to keep you going. 3 nights in paradise involved plenty of activities - slacklining, table tennis, surfing, sunset beach volleyball, horse riding, and we even got to see a mother turtle hatch her babies on the beach in the evening. We met some amazing people here, and ended up booking an Airbnb close by for the next two nights, which turned into a whole lot of fun. A break from hostel life was certainly a breath of fresh air. Next stop San Juan Del Sur.