Thursday, 8 November 2007, San Jose, Costa Rica
Our first night in León was not very quiet, with traffic noise and roosters nearby, but we were grateful to have somewhere to sleep. The next morning the guard knocked on our door before 6.00am and asked us to move because we were in the way for their workers to start their day. We have noticed how early people seem to start in the mornings in these Central American countries and often wonder if it is the same ones who are driving around late at night...
Our first priority that day was to find somewhere to stay and just relax for a bit. We found the tourist information office and the two girls there were really helpful. They called around to hotels until they found one with a parking lot which would take the camper and, after having a breakfast in town, we headed for the Hotel San Cristóbal and checked in. It was a nice enough hotel for a few days we thought, but it didn't turn out that way. First Juergen got a cold and that laid him out for 3 or 4 days and then just as he was getting up and feeling better I took his place in the bed! And all this time it was raining almost continuously in Nicaragua. The mountain towns we had planned to visit after Leon we so badly hit with flooding that a state of emergency was declared. The tropical storm bringing all the rain was also at one stage threatening to become a hurricane.
I had been wanting to have a rest in one place for a while, but this wasn't really what I'd imagined. Sometimes it's nice to have the space of a room and a television that shows movies, but all of that gets fairly boring when all you want to do is feel better and get on the road. After 10 days we decided to drive on to Granada, mostly to get a change of scenery. I still wasn't really well but was tired of sitting in one place.
Neither of us were particularly enamoured of León, but we really liked the feel of Granada. Had we found somewhere good to stay we would probably have lingered longer. The first night we camped beside Lake Nicaragua and spent a very quiet night, but the second night was a Friday and the traffic and music in the distance was fairly disturbing. So on Saturday night we parked in the centre of town between the Cathedral and the Bishop's House, which wasn't too bad, although it meant early waking. The town itself has a lot of very nicely restored colonial buildings interspersed with others which are really falling down. We were really spoiled by the beautiful colonial cities we saw in Mexico and since then they just don't seem to match up. But Granada does have its charm.
We visited the Church of San Francisco where a very nice young man gave us all sorts of interesting information, first in English and then in German. I'm not sure how much of either language he really could speak, but he had learned the spiel in both languages word perfect. Next door to the church is a convent which is being restored and has a museum with some pre-Hispanic stone carvings. Not the most spectacular we've seen, but good to see that someone is preserving them. We also found another museum while wandering around which is packed with full of pre-Hispanic clay figurines and funeral urns. I haven't ever seen so many in one place. One of the reasons we may have liked Granada so much was that it hardly rained while we were there!
We left Granada early on a Sunday morning and drove first to Masaya. We had read that Masaya is the crafts centre of Nicaragua, but realised that perhaps being a Sunday we might not see much evidence of it. There were a few wooden toys around a small square we stumbled upon, but what were more interesting were the dancers we discovered. From young children to young adults, they were dressed exquisitely, made-up perfectly and danced with great concentration. It was interesting to watch for some time, but then we drove on.
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