From Cabo, we sailed down the Pacific Coast for two days—which was long enough to get in a ship routine—before back-to-back ports: Antigua, Guatemala on a Wednesday and Corinto, Nicaragua on a Thursday.
Since SVV didn’t want to ask for the time off work, I had the unique opportunity to take one of my closest childhood friends, Samantha, as my guest on the voyage instead. I was spending time with her back in Denver in February and casually threw the suggestion out there on the table, thinking she’d think me crazy; the following week, she had already researched airfare and applied for a passport. Sam just got out of the Army after 11 years and had a bit of a break before going back to school—even though she already has a bachelor’s and a master’s—to get her teaching certificate this fall. It was her first time out of the country, and I dare say she loved it so much that she already applied—and was hired!—for the December Enrichment Voyage. That’s what we call drinking the ISE Kool-Aid, and I love it.
Once we arrived in Corinto, Samantha, our pal Chris (who worked in my former ship abode, the field office), and I boarded a bus for an ISE field trip to León, a two-hour drive from the port. The bright candy-colored houses of León’s tightly-contained streets reminded me of Cape Town’s vibrant Bo Kaap neighborhood. But it’s the city’s colonial architecture that had me in prime shutterbug mode.
After we had lunch at a convent and briefly strolled through the downtown, it was off to the city’s main attraction: the Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Say that five times fast.)
The interior was impressive, sure, but it’s where we went next that blew my socks off.
Our guide led us up into the bell tower and out onto the roof. Suddenly, all of León—and beyond—was at our fingertips.
Even better, we were given the go-ahead to scamper out onto the roof and over the concrete domes.
And so we did.
Without needing to be told twice.
I’m sure you know what comes next.
I think this series sums up why Sam and I have been lifelong friends. I saw a roof, I said “let’s jump!” and so she jumped. No questions asked. (Girlfriend trusts me a bit too much sometimes.)
We continued to explore the sprawling roof, only to find yet another playground a level down and some very narrow staircases to descend.
And then, it was time to go, in order to make it back to the MV Explorer by on-ship time. Our afternoon in León was far too short, but it’s a a city that quickly drew me under its spell, something that the majority of Central America, while surely beautiful in parts, had failed to do until now.
Beautiful girls in a beautiful city!!
I think you might be a bit biased, but thanks 😉
That last photo is gorgeous! What a great city!
I really like the clean, crisp look of your blog homepage. It is very inviting.
I recently began blogging myself. If you have a moment, check out my admittedly quirky travel blog at http://www.travelbyterry.com.
It’s a fun read, or meant to be at least. ;0)
Thanks, Terry! We just went through a major redesign and are still tweaking, but I’m happy with the result. Will head over and check you out, too. Welcome to the blogosphere!
Those old structure’s (is that a church?) design is vintage-awesome! The interior of he church is truly magnificent. Looks like a humble town, yet with rich tradition.
Nicaragua is the only Central American country I haven’t visited. Leon looks so beautiful. It looks more awesome from above. Can anybody get to the roof like you guys did?
I believe so. The church was open for anyone to come inside and wander, and we just went up a narrow staircase at the entrance. There were a couple other groups of people on top, so I assume you don’t have to be on a guided tour to get up there.
Great shots! For some reason, Nicaragua has always held a particular interest for me when compared to other Central and South American countries.
I know what you mean. I’ve been to all the Central American countries, and Nica and Panama are by far my favorite. Wait–Costa Rica should be up there, as well. I guess it’s mainly just Guatemala and Honduras that I’m not overly wild about!
Awww, I love that you brought one of your friends! I obviously need to start befriending some SAS staff. What position did she apply for?
Also glad to hear you found some love for Central America! It’s a part of the world I love so much, sorry to hear you haven’t had great experiences there.
She will be on the activities staff. Since Enrichment Voyages are so much smaller and laid-back than Semester at Seas, the staffs are smaller and nearly everyone (aside from my role and the entertainment team) is on the activities staff.
I haven’t had bad experiences there, I just haven’t had truly memorable ones either (until this voyage). I do love me some Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica; I just could do without Guatemala and Honduras.
love this post! and all the photos. jumping makes everything so much more hiiiilarious. glad you had a great time with your child hood friend, aw
I’ve discovered that jumping on–er, not off!–the rooftops is the best kind of jumping.
Awesome that you got to bring a good friend.
I loved Leon. I took so many photos on the roof of that church, and one was actually chosen to be in a gallery show last year.
Nice! I’ll have to visit your site and dig around until I find said image.
I actually went back and looked and realized I didn’t even write about Leon. I had no clue what I was doing with my blog back then. Will probably have to write a reflection post one day because I loved that place so much.
Leon looks a lot like Granada, down to the beautiful colonial churches. I’m afraid of heights (like, really afraid) but your pictures are awesome. I’m living vicariously.
That’s what I keep hearing! Sounds like I need to head to Granada next…
I was super sad we didn’t get the opportunity to really discover Leon. I think after all the bad juju that happened to our friends we were just ready to get out of Nicaragua. <3
I haven’t had great experiences in Guatemala or Honduras (been to both twice) before, so Nica was a nice turn of events.
I LOVE that you were jumping on the roof! Such fun pics. Also — love the new design of the blog. Beautiful and clean!
THANK YOU, Diana!
Jumping across roofs? That’s like my childhood fantasy!
Well, now you can go accomplish it as an adult! All you have to do is nab a housesitting gig in Nicaragua!
Leon is my FAVOURITE city in Central America, it’s home to the revolution and there is so much to do and see there. I’ll admit it’s not the prettiest or shiniest but it is the most interesting.
I’ve never been wild about Guatemala or Honduras, but Leon totally redeemed Central America in my eyes. Loved it!
Kristin, it makes me so happy to here people talking so good about my home. Your photos are beautiful and it looks like you had a lot of fun. I see that you and several of of your readers hope to go visit Nicaragua again. If you ever plan another trip do let me know.my father is a local photographer in Nicaragua and I’m sure he would love to show you around. I wish I could myself but I am living in Canada 🙁 how much I wish I could go visit soon.
A photography “safari” of Leon would be so much fun! I definitely want to go back–and hit up Granada, too–and will keep your information handy should that happen =) Thanks, Jeffrey!