March 20 Nicaragua - Central America XIV

We were picked up early by our group (lost a few, gained a few) and headed north to explore. As we drove along the shore of Lake Managua, we were treated to the view of several more looming volcanoes. Since most of the population of Nicaragua is nestled at the feet of these peaks, you get the impression that life could become very interesting for the populace if the activity level of the volcanoes picked up.
A Picture Stop on the Shore of Lake Managua
Our first stop of the day was the beautiful city of Leon. The main impression one gets of these Nicaraguan cities is that they have resisted (so far) the urge to tear down the old and replace it with new and "improved" development (such as American fast food, whose presence always "enhances" other cultures). Not sure whether it is the local politics or some master plan, but the resulting feel to the country is much different that Tegucigalpa. Very refreshing. There is also an aura of safety and control that is not present in Honduras. I am sure that has something to do with the Nicaraguan political climate. Looming over the central plaza of Leon is the Bascilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the church from top to bottom, even to the roof to check out the bells.

Group Shot in Leon Main Plaza

Play of Light on Cathedral Door

One of the Cathedral Bells

Rooftop Air and Light Vents

View From the Roof of Leon

Mike Posing with Beauty Queen Group in Cathedral

We wandered the streets for a while, even getting a peek at the central market. This was the real thing, nothing put together for tourists. We enjoyed some watermelon sliced on the spot.

Very Cold and Sweet
After picking the watermelon seeds out of our teeth, we headed due west a few miles to the Pacific Ocean. Las Playitas is a large bay where you can still find deserted beaches and few tourists. There also are few places to stay, but Lilliam found a small hotel with a beachside restaurant and a bathroom where we could change our clothes for a romp in the water. We spent a wonderful afternoon talking, wading in the water, collecting shells, and enjoying a nice lunch. Again the food was wonderful - very fresh seafood, some of the best shrimp I have ever eaten. I even got a little sunburned.

Juan, Mike & Victor

Our Beach Lunch
After we had our fill of the water and sun, we changed back into our street clothes at the hotel, backtracked into Leon, and then to Managua. Another long, but fun day. At the hotel, most of the group stayed for a nice dinner together and afterwards, I showed them the mission slide show and talked to them about the temple dedication events. We are so glad we decided to make a stop in Nicaragua, a couple of days we will never forget. I have a feeling we will come back here.

Our Hotel Group Dinner

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