I left the Corn Islands with a little parting gift: an upset stomach and a fever. After half of Little Corn got sick, I thought I’d gotten through the storm unharmed…wasn’t I wrong! Luckily, the plane back was a lot bigger than the one to Corn and also, thanks to AirBnb again, a lovely colonial house with a great host was awaiting us in Managua. It was Cabbage’s last night and needless to stay whatever bacteria I had in my body didn’t stop me from crying my eyes out those last few hours together. Of course I was pleased to have another 2 months left to travel solo (well…with Petit Buddha), but leaving one’s Cabbage* is never easy…
*I’ve realised I haven’t properly introduced you to my Cabbage although most of you will have guessed: he’s my amazingly talented partner and if you fancy meeting him, and listening to his music, you can click here [I’m not ashamed of plugging and also I want to clarify I’m not getting any financial reward for this :P]
So there I was, in Casa Inti, with a fever and puffy eyes, watching the taxi driving away to the airport. I decided to stay an extra night so I could feel a bit better and handle the ride to Leon. At Great Corn airport, we had met this lovely Dutch couple who had been volunteering in Leon and they gave me the contact details of their charity saying that they were “desperate” for some volunteer to work with their communities. So once the fever was gone and the appetite was back I decided to go to Leon, for a few days at least, to see what that organisation had to offer.
In my time at Casa Inti however, I met the most wonderful couple from Montreal (Quebec), Catherine and Philippe as well as the lively French/Togolese Theo. My stay there was worth it just for the opportunity it gave me to meet them. Si vous lisez le Français et que vous aussi vous voulez les connaitre, lisez leur blog [Les Blonds] – il est genial! As it often happens in these sorts of trips, I got the chance to see them again, here in Leon. The host, Inti, was most helpful and happened to be half Nica, half Belgian!
So I started this next bit of my journey solo in Leon. After an hour or so in a minibus, that had aircon for less than $2, I arrived in this strange colonial city, known for it’s political influence throughout Nicaragua’s history. My first impressions of this place:
- it’s less polished (more authentic) than Granada
- there are LOTS of churches (22 in fact, just in Leon)
- streets don’t have names (same in Managua I believe, and they oriente themselves based on churches (or other landmark if you are so unlucky to live far from a church): from Iglesia Recolection, 1 c. al norte, 1 c. abajo
- 28 degrees feels cold – it’s so very, unbelievably, unbearably, hot (that’s maybe a good opportunity to explain the title of this post…it actually gives an idea of how hot it was the day I told my colleague “I will call my next post Nicaliente” – Nica + caliente which means hot – she laughed at the play on words. The following day, we were walking from one ATM to the next, desperate for air conditioning, when I said “I think it should actually be “Muy Nicalientísimo” which isn’t actually correct but could be the equivalent of saying “most hottest”)
- here too they have colourful doors and great sets of rocking chairs (now I know they are called “abuelitos” (little grandpas) and are probably all over Nicaragua! )
A bicycle ride away from the bus terminal, I found this nice little NGO hostel called Sonati and set off to discover what was going to be “my home away from home”. The day following my arrival, I met the organisation called Mpowering People and all of its 2 employees and the deal was sealed. That same afternoon I was out and about, for a meeting with one of the communities they work with. I have so much to say about this, I have decided to keep it for the end as I will have a total of 7 weeks working with them. In the meantime, if you want to look them up, they’re on Facebook and Instagram.
I had the plan, for this trip, to surf everyday and volunteer for at least 2 months, but sometimes life takes you on a different path and whatever the reason, I feel it is right for me to be here. Despite the heat, did I mention the heat?!?
I decided to commit to Mpowering People for 7 weeks, which meant I’d be staying in Leon for at least as much. Day 3 I started wondering if I was going to be able to follow through as I could barely handle the humidity and the heat (nearly 40 degrees everyday, dropping to 37 at night…). But here I am, week 5 and counting. The next posts will be about my mini-adventures here in one of the hottest cities in the world (on average temperatures), city that I’ve learned to love.