I hauled my huge rucksack on, checked out of the hostel and walked the town square in Leon, where I chambered onto the back of a truck paying 10p to get to the bus terminal. Locals sat on both sides of this vehicle on unstable benches, watching me clumsily struggle with my bag. I made a bid there to myself to get rid of more belongings.
Walking through the the busy market to find the chicken bus to Esteli was an adventure. I stopped to buy some exotic fruit and ask for directions. I got to the bus I needed, lifted my bag onto the rack and sat down with a sigh of relief.
Sitting on the yellow, crowded, chicken bus from Leon a middle aged Nicaraguan lady next to me started up a conversation. We chatted a little in Spanish about the weather, her family and where I was going. It made the journey pass quicker. As I looked up I saw a sign which made me giggle. ‘no standees permitted, capacity 84 passengers’. In front of the sign people clung on to the railings standing up for the entirety of their journey. Numerous people squished onto seats meant for just two passengers. Vendors jumped on and off yelling about their products. I bought a pastry type thing and some fruit for breakfast.
I had to change buses once as mine was not direct. After a morning of travel I arrived in Esteli. I was exhausted, grabbed a taxi for 50p and arrived at a decent hostel part of the NGO chain Sonati.
I had a walk around to get my bearings and found the central Park, Church and shops. I decided to find some shade in the park and have a read. A couple of Nicaraguans started talking to me. They bought me an ice team and a drink. I know what your thinking – don’t accept food from strangers. However, it was packaged and they were eating the same. People in Central America are just friendly and want to include you in their friendship groups. After a nice, chat – most of which I found hard to decipher we parted ways and I returned to the hostel.
I grabbed some dinner later on with a lovely Israeli girl here before getting an early night, to catch up on soon much needed sleep.