Thursday, February 3, 2011

2/3/11 Esteli to Leon ( 3 weeks ago): 100 miles, 2 hours

Haven't posted for a couple of weeks as I sit here trying to remember what has happened since my last post. I remember that I woke up late and lazed around the town of Esteli for a while, as I had a 2:00 check out time and it was only 100 miles or so to my destination of Leon, where I would be for 2 or 3 months studying Spanish. Left at 2 as planned and the noticeably better -than -Honduras-roads also straightened out into a line of smooth asphalt for most of the way to Leon.
Normally boring (think US 2-lane highway) was now a relief where I could crank the bike up to highway speed and leisurely cruise into Leon.
First impression is that it's pretty run down, but with a lot of history and stories beneath the surface. Noticeably hotter here as well, as in 80 degrees hot. Finally. I get lost, thinking a park square is the main square, and finally following a cab to the real main square where I see Leon's cathedral, the largest in Central America. Not very tall, but taking up a few city blocks, for sure. I make it to Lazybones Hostel, which is 8 bucks a night, has secure parking for my bike, is large, clean, nice courtyard, and best of all a POOL. Yes, I will be using that daily.
Spend the next week or so walking around the city, discovering good places to eat, places with internet, etc. Not so pressed to take photos/tourist stuff just yet, since I'll be here for a while. It's nice to be here in a completely un-rushed frame of mind. Spend a lot of time reading and chilling at the pool as well. I get a taste of what Nicaragua is all about when the water goes out for a couple of days, as well as the internet. City-wide. Yep, this happens a lot here, in one of the 3 major cities in the country. A reminder of how far this place has to go, even in comparison with Guatemala. Also, it is pretty hot in during the days, in the 90's and although it cools off some at night, heat, mosquitos, and almost no AC in the city make things definitely not -US- like, for sure.
After a week of lazing around and hanging out with several cool people I meet at the hostel, I enroll in a Spanish immersion course. I meet my teacher Karin, and she is really sweet, cool, etc. I start going daily and have been attending for 2 weeks straight, although for only 2 hours a day. I have just upped to 3 hours, as my goal is to get 200 hours under my belt. The sooner I finish, the more time I will have to putt around on the bike before returning home in May. I also leave the hostel after a week and move into a Nicaraguan family homestay as part of my program. There is the mom, Suyan, husband, Giovanni, so Hildy, a couple of cousins, friends, a dog, parrot and a1 year old, Joshua. It's a Spanish style house and big enough, set around a central courtyard. I have my own fairly large room, fan, and surprisingly a private bathroom. I feel like I'm in a suite at the Bellagio after the places I have been staying for the past 3 months. The room is also cool enough, with thick adobe walls and set in the middle of the complex, hidden from the sun.
So, I actually haven't been meeting too many people in the past couple of weeks. Although there is this girl that works the outdoor chicken grill....Keeping to myself a lot, although I did join a local gym and have been eating and trying to put some weight back on, which has been working pretty well, with the daily helpings of beans and rice, charcoal grilled chicken and other assorted meats. There is so much to see here as well, including 16 historical churches, the best art museum in Central America, 2 developed beaches close by, etc., etc. I try to see/do at least one thing a day, aside from my daily lessons.
As the midway point in this trip, I'll also be ordering bike parts from the States and doing some bike work, fixing up what is broken/needs tweaking, as well as a host of other errands needed to complete my journey. I'm looking forwards to my time here, as well as to my future traveling . Also, to the return home where I am excited about getting involved in a few different projects I alluded to in earlier posts. I have added to that list and the ideas keep coming. The only hard thing will be trying to accomplish all of them! I'll settle for 1 or 2 at the moment, and keep trying to live in the moment as well.

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