I set off for Leon on Saturday morning. a little disconcerted as my bus had no religous pictures telling me who was looking over the voyage. A secular journey awaited!!
As we pulled out of the bus station I saw the car of a bus driver “solo dios sabe si volvera”, “only God knows if I will return”. The bus driver again proved that this is so true as he overtook with a style that would have not been out of place in the Whacky Races (think Dick Dastardly).
The first town that we passed was Cuidad Sandino, and the man in the hat above is what the great man looks like all over Nicaragua…….and you do see him all over the country.
The bus drove into a busy bus station in the centre of a market and I found some one who helped me find a bicycle taxi that would take me to the centre for a reasonable price. There always seem to be indignant people who help me if they think that I am being charged too much.
The sight from my “rickshaw” was this.
I sat in a similar cart and the breeze was good as Leon is hot. I found somewhere to stay, but only two nights as Monday would be very busy, better than nothing and I hopefully had a chance to find somehwere by Monday. I am told that the Griteria, literally Big Shout, is quite something in Leon.
The town was busy, but the cathedral was closed. There are 16 churches in Leon, some of outstanding beauty and I woudl get to see many of them. But first the market, with lots of Pinyatas for sale….just waiting to be burst and the sweets to cascade over small children.
and small children sitting in front of a makeshift altar, singing hymns to the Virgin Mary. This weekend is about the Purissima, the day of the Immaculate Conception and all the events that take place in Nicaragua (well near Leon) as part of the whole celebration.
First a siesta….I am still getting a little tired and have decided to be sensible….and it is sooooo hot. So I venture out in the late afternoon and in the main square I see the Gigantesca, Lady Giant.
She is currently towering above the main square, but more of this later. Lots of people were coming out of the Cathedral, it was the graduation ceremony for the local university. So in I went to a most beautiful place, with ethereal music swirling around, and also the resting place of Ruben Dario, a poet who lived in several Leon houses, as I was to find out.
Back outside again in the square and there were more shrines to Maria, smaller in scale than the ones outside the ministries in Managua.
There was a lot of visitors.
I make my way to the next church, the Calvery.
Here a Quincena is taking place. This is a party for a 15 year old girl, like Sweet Sixteen in the USA. The family spends a lot of money on the party and it is like a mini wedding, and the girls in Leon go to church to be blessed. I was sitting at the back of the church when the second party came through so I saw the whole ritual. Also some very nice church music. So the colours for Quincena this year appear to be purple and pink.
There a quincenas all over Latin America, in Brazil some fathers will give the option of say a visit to Disneyworld as this sometimes works out cheaper than the big local party.
Then a look back at the cathedral
and on to the church of the Recoleccion.
Before heading back into town, past that man Sandino again.
I pass a few smaller Gigantescas
and back to the main square where there are dozens of chess matches taking place and the cathedral looks ever so mellow.
On to the Parque Ruben Dario, where the new Park of the Poets is being inaugurated. An evening of speeches,local dances, some to extraordinary revolutionary songs, and poetry recitals by the old and the young. There are at least three poetry evening groups catering for children and then hundreds for adults in Leon. The mayor and the bishop both speak as well, then lots of entertainment.
The young children had all the pathos of the elderly and thumped their arms through the air for emphasis as they recited some blood curling poetry. It was very enthralling.
I found a steak house and a mojito and ended my first day in Leon.