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.