Today, we unabashedly played tourists. We got up in the morning and actually made a list of all the things we wanted to do, with the aid of the Lonely Planet book; it read something like this:
-Buy a road map of Nicaragua
-Find the Mercado Central (for LP suggested cheap food)
-Visit the Cathedral (for photo op on the roof of the largest cathedral in Central America)
-Visit the art museum (plugged by LP as the best collection of classical and modern art in Central America)
-Visit the Museum of Myths and Legends (also recommended by LP, but intriguing in and of itself as the museum exclusively displays folk heros along side ‘mythical’ beings such as The Headless Priest, the Caravan of the Dead, and the Black Cat- all of which are represented by paper maché likenesses handmade by the proprietress of the museum)
-Get a massage (LP guide lists a 45 minute massage for $3US- we actually got 35 minutes for $8US, but who cares when relaxation comes this affordable?)
We achieved nearly everything on the list and even threw in a few rounds of unscheduled snacking and some other, practical errands like emails and setting up a local phone number. It was a total change of pace for us after months of playing house in Xela, playing crimefighters in Antigua, and playing in traffic on the bikes. It has really been a good long while since our only concern was sightseeing and meandering.
We both agree that León is (mercifully) unlike Antigua; it is bigger, busier, and more real. More like Xela than anywhere else we could compare it to on this trip. That’s the nice thing: playing tourist in a town that doesn’t necessarily require it. That said, we pretty much had our fill and were ready to move on except we found out that tomorrow is the Day of the Dead, which is a national holiday – maybe not on par with Mexico’s celebration, but it still includes a lot of snacking. So we decided to stick around and check it out. We even scored an invitation to a private celebration from a local librarian. R, as usual, sought out the closest public library to check out their cookbooks and chat with the old women who run it. What he found was actually a private library, which he was not technically allowed in, but managed to talk his way into. Not only did he get his recipes, but also nabbed an invite to the home of one of the women who run the place. So we are taking an impromptu second day off, presumably before we take another few days off in and around Managua. There is a part of me that feel a bit guilty, like we’re slacking off on the bike trip again, but it is hard to determine what even makes sense anymore.
We have had an amazing time in Central America but we’ve also had a couple gnarly experiences. After an actual armed attack on the road, it is hard to ignore the fact that we are in a truly unstable part of the world. I can’t help but think that we only have ourselves to blame if anything else goes wrong- God forbid one of is seriously hurt. For now, we are taking it day by day. The fact is that we are okay and didn’t suffer any more than a person who had been pickpocketed would. Except that we weren’t pickpocketed, we were physically attacked, and next time it could be worse. Luckily, we have arrangements with new friends and places to be in the meantime. We are taking it day by day and will have to make a decision sooner or later, but we haven’t decided to quit and we are still weighing our options.