LEON, NICARAGUA, Nov. 5, 2013
That evening a man knocked on our door and welcomed us to Nicaragua with a smile and a bit of English. I assumed it was him I had spoken to on the phone in the car. He asked us if we wanted to walk around town a bit and we agreed and quickly got ready to go. He took us all around the heart of Leon, shaking hands with the other locals he knew, and telling us about different places as we’d pass by.
We were taken to a huge cathedral where I took lots of photos of gold plated things I don’t have names for. We went inside and he wondered off to speak to a man and a woman who looked as though they worked inside. He turned to us and said “You want to go to the roof, right?” …”Sure!” So the woman took us to the far side of the cathedral and led us to the steps where we thanked her and continued onward.
When we arrived at a small motel, a man in a nice white collared shirt came out to help us with our bags. The only money that I had to tip the driver was a $10 bill. I was sure he’d be excited about that, although that was nearly the last of our cash. The motel attendant took us to a beautiful room with a big, open window which led out into a tropical foyer. There were paintings on the walls of the volcanos and the national bird. We had a big bathroom and a shower with warm water. We’d just arrived in paradise. Of course, we had no idea why. We were supposed to be going to the surf camp to work, and here we were in a motel in Leon. I couldn’t complain. This didn’t look like a bad place to be.
I settled in and went back out to find the man who helped us in with our bags and in my best Spanish, asked about the internet. I found that after I was a bit more relaxed, I was able to remember a great deal more Spanish than I’d expected to. He gave me the password to the internet and I quickly dialed the owner of the surf camp on Skype. He told me he was sorry for having to hire a driver, and asked if we were ok staying the night in Leon tonight and he’d meet us tomorrow. I agreed and he told me that a local man would be coming by to check on us around 6 pm, and that he spoke English.
When I arrived back at the motel on the next street over, I found Phillip and a guy we call Loco. One more night had been paid for and we were heading back to Via Via for a few more beers.
The next day, we left Leon and this beautiful motel behind and headed toward Salinas Grandes to Rise Up Surf Camp, where we were to work for the rest of the year.
From the roof of the cathedral we could overlook the entire city of Leon; the volcanos in the background, the other cathedrals in the distance, and the tin roofed buildings on the streets below, littered with people with cars, as well as horses, although most people in Leon prefer to walk. The view was spectacular.
We spent the evening relaxing in the room and the mission for the next morning was to pull money from the ATM and go to the supermarket. I went out on my own to do just that, and was denied by 4 different ATM’s. Of course, the traveling curse doesn’t end. Next, we’ll be stranded in Nicaragua playing bongos on the streets for change. I managed to get a bit of food at the supermarket so that we could eat, and hoped to hear from the surf camp owner anytime.
He emailed and said that a guy named Chinto would be meeting us around three, which was two hours past check out time. I went to the man at the front of the motel who had been so pleasant before and explained to him that we were waiting for our ride to arrive at 3 pm, and if we needed to take our bags out of the motel, that we would. He explained, in Spanish, of course, that it was ok if we stayed later. He just needed to clean the room.
When Chinto arrived he took us to a place called Via Via. It’s a restaurant, bar and hostel with high ceilings and a mid-class atmosphere. We drank beers and had fried tortilla with bean dip while we waited for Phillip, the owner of the camp. “Shouldn’t I go talk to the man at the motel? It’s after 3 pm.” “I’m sure it’s ok. Phillip is coming,” he told me. I decided to go back to the motel alone and check in with the man. After all, all of our bags were there.