Our day trip to León was an exciting one. First off, we decided to check out the Zoológica Nacional, near where we were staying in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. The first thing we saw when we walked in were beautiful red macaws!
One of them flew around the cage and gave us a show and even talked for us a bit (I was sure he was saying, “hola” at one point). From there we saw Toucans, lovebirds, and more parrots.
It was amazing seeing so many colorful birds in one place! Next, we saw several funny mammals – most of which were very interactive.
There was a wonderful assortment of mostly Central American wildlife.
Iguanas and crocodiles.
Ocelot and Jaguar.
Even a few lion, which are Cliff’s current favorite animal (he likes roaring…). It was almost scary how close you could get to the bars on the cages. Much different than the states!
When we got to the tapir, a large mammal I’ve seen only in books and movies, I was pretty excited. The animal nerd in me was coming out at this place. I always loved studying animals growing up. We often had referred to our home as a zoo, and had raised many different animals – everything from sugar gliders and rats, to ducks and ferrets. As we stared at the huge tapir, Olivia sighs and slowly says, “It’s gorgeous!”
Though not my exact sentiment…I stifled a laugh and agreed with her.
The monkeys were fun to see.
We had been keeping our eyes out for some in the wild, but hadn’t seen any. This zoo was much different than in the states. Despite the many signs asking people to not feed the animals, adults and children alike we’re feeding the monkeys cheetoes and other junk. It was a little sad to see that.
We really enjoyed the zoo, and were glad the kids had gotten some time to run around.
For the afternoon we headed to León. As we drove up and parked, large red graffiti covered the side of the building across the street and read, “Bush Genocide, Enemy of Humanity”.
Obviously, we were a bit uneasy in this city. The attitude towards Americans was at least indifferent if not negative.
We managed to find a wonderful place for lunch, overlooking the beautiful cathedral, Iglesia Basilica – the largest cathedral in Central America, which we were told was made of homemade concrete containing millions of egg shells.
The original church was built in 1610, but the building standing today was built in 1747 (after fire and pirates destroyed the previous three buildings). It took over 100 years to construct this expansive cathedral. Olivia saved the loaf of bread from lunch at threw it out for the hoards of pigeons who swooped down in one huge mass, leaving Olivia thoroughly entertained.
We went to tour the Revolutionary War Museum after lunch.
The museum was in the oldest building of the city, and was actually used for the war.
As our tour guide explained the circumstances of the war, we went on to discover he fought in the war himself.
He was even in several of the photos he showed us.
His first-hand account of the revolution of the 70’s was gripping. He was just 16 years old when he started fighting in the war and two of his little brothers (ages 4 and 5) were killed in the bombing of León.
After recounting the history, he took us up a massive staircase.
Then we got to walk across the rickety tin roof (dodging the holes), for a beautiful view of the city.
It was quite the experience!
Perhaps one of the more adventurous things we’ve done with the kids.
We stopped by the lake on the way back to our hotel, to buy a few gifts and souvenirs. Sadly, at that point Cliff was running a fever and was not feeling well at all. I’d been watching him all day and had noticed he didn’t seem himself. When we got back to our hotel I started him on some home remedies (the few I’d brought along). His fever kept climbing during the night. It had slightly reduced by morning, but after John left for his day trip, it started rising again, he was lethargic, and I had to make the decision to call a doctor. The thought of dragging both of my littles through the city of Managua to the local hospital was pretty scary. We had been warned of the dangers of taking taxis in the city, and I was unable to get a hold of John. Thankfully, our hotel was extremely helpful and knew just who to get in contact with.
I had been going through Spanish medical phrases in my head, trying to figure out how I would explain what was going on, but it wasn’t necessary – thankfully the doctor spoke English. He came to our hotel room, spread out his things on the bed, and within seconds of touching Cliff’s throat, had a diagnosis: tonsillitis. I decided to go with his recommendation and do antibiotics, since I didn’t have all my usual natural remedies with me (we were still waiting for our household goods to arrive from the states). He called the pharmacy, put the order in, and half an hour later I was standing in the hotel lobby with one sick baby and a toddler in tow, paying for the medicine. Cliff was nearly back to his normal happy, curious self by that evening, and I was thanking God for a doctor. And with that, our trip to Nicaragua and Panama was complete. The next morning we left for the airport – excited to be going back to our (new) home in Lima, Peru…