Fritangas, karaoke and Bobby McFerrin mantras in León, Nicaragua

I arrived into Leon at about 7 or 8pm and after having slept pretty badly on my last night in Honduras and two full days of travel, I was ready to SLEEP! The taxi brought us to the street where a number of the bigger hostels are located, namely Big Foot Hostel and Via Via. Dance music was thumping out of Big Foot, which I had heard was a real party hostel, whereas right across the street, Via Via seemed much quieter and chilled out, so therefore the better option for me!

Via Via also has a bar and restaurant attached to the hostel, but it’s a much quieter affair with lots of locals and a more chilled out vibe. The hostel rooms are really big and spacious, with about 6 beds per room including bathroom. It was 168 cordobas per night and I stayed there for a few days to chill out and recharge. The wifi was really good too so it was nice to call home and talk to my mam clearly without robotic crackling and delays! I actually felt a bit homesick too, talking to mam for the first time in a good while tipped me over the edge I think! That and tiredness of course…I had been worrying about a few things and for some reason to try and make myself feel better I had been singing Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ to myself (yep! The things you do to keep yourself sane.). On my first night in Leon I popped out to get some food and ended up in a Nicaraguan chicken fast food chain called Tip Top that was filled with local people and their kids. As I was waiting for my order, I was watching the TV and VHI Classic Hits was on. Guess what song was playing? Yep. Don’t Worry Be Happy. I took that as a sign that everything was going to be A-OKAY!  Thank you Bobby!

Leon is SO hot. Like, really really hot. It’s pretty busy with lots of activity going on in the streets and lots of backpackers about the place too. I had some breakfast at Pan y Paz, a little bakery just around the corner from the hostel and tried to wander about but the heat put a stop to any of my attempts of a leisurely stroll! Later that evening, when it had cooled down I went out to explore the area and at about dinner time I noticed two street food stands behind the cathedral with huge grills (fritangas) filled with lots of fried delicious goodness including chicken, chorizo, beef, pancakes with cheese and other delightful artery-clogging food. As I was ordering my food, I noticed someone waving at me from the plastic tables and chairs behind the fritangas. It was Sophie, a Swedish girl I had met in Tulum, Mexico and went snorkelling in Akumal and the cenotes with! Small world! She was with her friend Julia who had just arrived from Stockholm and they were planning on spending a few days in Leon too. We hung out for a while and decided to meet later and go for a few drinks as it was Sophie’s birthday the next day.

On my way back to the hostel I stumbled upon a huge Lenten procession as it was the week before Easter week (Semana Santa). There were so many people in the streets, many wearing purple and a number of men carrying a huge larger than life station of the cross statue, followed  by a band of musicians playing trumpets and trombones and tonnes more people following the procession through the streets. It reminded me that I needed to sort out my plan for Semana Santa which was fast approaching and I had been told I really needed to book ahead as hostels get booked up really quickly as it is a holiday week and lots of locals make their way to typical backpacker destinations by the beach to celebrate the holiday.

Later that night I met Sophie at my hostel (where I also bumped into a girl who was on my pub quiz team in the hostel in Livingston, Guatemala!) and we made our way down to the main strip of pubs and clubs in León. Sophie and I ended up in a karaoke bar, filled with local people singing their hearts out from the comfort of their tables. Interesting! I decided in order to celebrate Sophie’s birthday we just had to sing a Swedish karaoke song…after scanning the huge book of songs we found Ace of Base ‘All that She Wants’ which of course seemed entirely appropriate.

When it finally came to our turn to sing, we belted it out and those poor Nicaraguans didn’t know what was going on. Needless to say, there was not a resounding applause at the end of our rendition of the classic 90’s hit but hey, what can you do?

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