March 24, 2007 GMT
Leon, Nicaragua 16/1/07

I left the mountain valley city of Tegucigalpa and rode the twisties all the way back to the Panamerican Highway. Then onto the border crossing of Guasale into Nicaragua. I had spent one week in Honduras, met the President, explored Tegucigalpa and the small colonial towns of Santa Lucia and Valle de Angeles. But I was excited to continue onto Nicaragua. I had heard good things about León and Granada, the lakes and the volcanoes.

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I took this photo on the bridge leading into Nicaragua. You can see the Japanese development symbol on the sign. Japan and Germany seem to have a publically visible development program in Nicaragua. Many times the bus stops along the road will have the German "desarollo" symbol.

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The first 20 or so miles after entering Nicaragua, the road looked like this.

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The scorched cattle country of southeast Honduras led to the lush, green, volcanic lands of southern Nicaragua. I stopped here and took this photo of a Vigilante and the volcano in the background.

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I was stopped 4 times by the police between Guasale, the border crossing, and León. Only once was it a problem and that was because he was by himself and had no peer to check his corruptness. The other times they just wanted to ask me questions about the moto. This photo is of Dennis and Cruz, who stopped me just outside León. They asked me the standard questions about the bike and my trip and then we talked a little "beisbol". There was a game tonight, León vs. Managua, and they would be directing traffic outside. They advised me on how to get to the stadium, how much tickets wereand how this was an important series to determine who goes to the finals. They warned me of going to Managua, Cruz gave me the hand-snatching motion, which symbolizes thievary. As we said our goodbyes, they wished me luck and Dennis gave me his orange glove, for riding at night for safety. Gente muy amable.

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As I rode into the old, cobblestoned streets of León, I stopped at a stoplight and asked another moto rider where the Parque Central was. He told me to follow him and we wound our way through the city, until we arrived at a huge "catedral" and he pulled over and motioned that this was it. I parked the bike, took out my "guia" to find a good hostel and sat down for some "comida típica". In this photo you will see, from closest to far, empanadas de maduros, queso frito, enchiladas, tacos, ensalada and papa frita con queso.


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I found a $3 hostel, Hostal de Aubergue, run by a nice young guy named Frank. And then I hopped in a taxi to go to the beisbol game at 6pm. León beat Boér of Managua, 5-3, but it should have been a shutout. Boér scored 3 runs with 2 outs in the top of the ninth inning. León used three pitchers to get the last out. And to my surprise, the fans applauded the failing pitcher. Whereas in Boston, if a pitcher comes into the game to get one out and instead loads up the bases, he´s going to hear the crowds disapproval with familiar expressions such as "sit down you bum!"
Here are some thoughts I had as I watched the game.
There is no bullpen phone, so the manager has to frantically wave his hands to get the pitchers´attention, and then that´s followed by confusing "who me?" gestures by the 5 or so pitchers out there in the outfield bullpen. I couldn´t but think they could have streamlined this process by flashing the numbers of the players, or of course, by using a phone system.
There is no big screen for replays.
There are ads on the uniforms, in this case it was for the national beers, Toña and Victoria.
There are no seats, only general admission, and no one sits the whole 9 innings.
There are no foul balls to be brought home by lucky fans; the stands are blocked by fence from the ground to the roof.
Players use different cleats, probably just the ones they can afford to buy themselves.
Some players have religious stickers on their helmets, like the Virgin Mary icon, etc.
The announcer talks while the players are batting.
The good seats are 20 cordobas (18 cords = $1).
It did not seem like there was any regulations as to what you can bring into the stadium. By the end of the game, there was one guy who would blow his fog horn everytime an opposing batter faced a pitch to distract him. Whistles are also common.
The concessions are not nazi-like, as in the states. Prices for beer were the same as in the brocery store across the street. And you buy cans of beer from a lady with a cooler and ice. And you´d better buy all the ones you want for the game when you enter, because the stands are so full, it would take you 2 innings just to get back to your section.

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Frank, the owner of Hostal de Aubergue, and his buddy sat and chatted with me for a while. I took this photo of them outside the hostel and his buddy wanted a photo of him on my bike. He wanted me to email the photo to him, so he could use it to impress girls.

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They taught me some good words and expressions in Nicaragau.
"Nicas" = Nicaraguans
"á la orden" = at your service (almost like you´re welcome)
"chele(a)" = white person
"deacachimba" = super cool (place/feeling)
"diaverga" = super cool (person/place)
"Penefi" = Managua
"naca" = loco
"chavalos(las) = boys/girls
"varones" = men
"vichas" = beers
"abanico" = fan


León has 5 churches and lots of parques. It´s a liberal city, birthplace of poets like Rüben and generally has a revelutionary attitude about it. Whereas Granada is the city of the elite, like the Chamorro family, and tends to be conservative.

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United Motors is a Chinese company that sells a lot of motorcycles here in Nicaragua and Honduras. They only make 150cc and 250cc bikes, but all cost less than $2K. Tom from Honduras rode a UM bike. They even make a Harley looking bike, which are called "charlies" = chinese Harley.

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Just like in America, they hate George Bush here too, as can be seen by the graffiti that says "Bush means Genocide, Enemy of Humanity".

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Posted by Christian Burrows at 09:15 PM GMT
 



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