Leon and Las Penitas…and the Canucks?

Patrick is a huge Canucks fan, given he spent a lot of time in Vancouver. One evening he invited us down to his house to watch a game. Good opportunity to just kick back, open up the bottle of scotch that made the trip with us and shoot the breeze. His son Spencer and friends were there as well. Love the fact we can do this on a vacation. Canucks game wasn’t going so well so we switched over to a Blackhawks game, one of Jacki’s favorite teams. A small wager was placed between Patrick and Jacki. Thankfully the Blackhawks won. Jacki has no money…

The morning started early with a walk along the beach heading north this time. We came across locals fishing during high tide. Parts of the beach are smooth with very fine sand, others a little rockier. I found it interesting to watch the pelicans skim along the crest of the waves. They look for fish and will swoop right through a wave and scoop them up.

There’s a section about a 45 minute walk that is absolutely some of the finest beach anywhere. No buildings, very few people and miles of sandy beach. We didn’t get there this day. There was a rocky section that had some big waves crashing in due to high tide. Didn’t feel like taking a chance so we headed back.

Next, the plan was to be loaded into a small bus and head out on an excursion planned by Pita and Gordon. They are friends of Patrick’s and his relationship with Pita is interesting to say the least. There’s a fair bit of sniping back and forth and if you didn’t know the background, you’d think they were angry with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are a charming Canadian couple who have lived down here for some time now. If memory serves, they were some of the first people Patrick came to know while in Nicaragua and there’s a special bond between them and Patrick.  
The group was about 16 or so and we headed off to Leon for the first leg of this journey. Leon, and other cities like it here in Nicaragua, have links to the history of Central America found in the older cathedrals and surrounding buildings. Leon is a university town, home to the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

The road to Leon is a nice stretch of highway. It wasn’t always the case. Patrick says there were times he’d drive in the ditch because it was in better shape than the highway. What used to take 3-4 hours now takes about an hour from here.

I wish we had all the time in the world to explore these places. There’s so many nooks and crannys. Interesting architecture. The setup for most centers is the same according to Osman. There’s a center court with a church to the east of it. Everything pans out from there. The markets are full of touristy shops, restaurants, street vendors etc. We hit two main markets, one with the aforementioned items and the other a plethora of fruits vegetables and meat. Raw meat…lots of it. I’m sure most health inspectors would faint walking into a place like this. Doesn’t seem to bother the locals. North Americans and their sterilized digestive systems may have a problem though.

We purchased some bananas as a snack and when I asked what to do with the peel, I was told to through it on the street. It’s biodegradable and will disappear here. Just didn’t feel right lol.

Next stop was Las Penitas. Picture a lazy little coastal town built for surfer dudes. Great beaches and lots of waves. Rustic restaurants and hotels, not the 5 star variety, line the beach. Our destination was Playa del Roco. It’s owned by friends of Gordon and Pita.  Their staff did a great job of serving us lunch on a deck overlooking the beach area.

After lunch most of us moved on to a place run by Patrick’s nephew called the Lazy Turtle. This allowed Gordon and Pita to spend some much needed time with their friend alone.

The Lazy Turtle is a great little story. Patrick came to own it as a trade for some property at Gran Pacifica. It was owned by Gordon and Pita. What to do with a beach restaurant/hotel in Nica? Well, his nephew calls the next day asking if Patrick knew of a place in Nica where he could set up a beach business. And there you have it, the birth of a new dream.
Ryan, Patrick’s nephew, is a chef/musician who saw a niche for a place to serve something other than the usual fish. So he serves up burgers and nachos. Classic rock and blues plays in the background rather than the usual Latino beat you hear everywhere else. It’s a formula that seems to work for them. They are rated quite highly on Trip Advisor, check it out here.

Being a sucker for burgers I had to try one. It was delicious! Thick and juicy served with a cold pasta salad, perfect for hot weather. Felt like a backyard BBQ in summer! Ryan and Val made us feel right at home. And why not? The place was filled with crazy Canucks lol.

After a nice long visit, some songs and a great meal, we made our way back to the bus.
Next stop was a night spot back in Leon called the Via Via. It’s a favorite of Gordon and Pita’s. We had a couple of tables reserved for us in front of a stage where a band was scheduled to play. Pita was hoping to give us an experience of Nica culture and music. The place was hopping with a bar, restaurant and pool table.

Bottles of the local rum, Flor de Cana, kept showing up on the table.
The band showed and to my great delight, the main guitar player and bassist did a little blues to warm up with. Pita didn’t much care for it, ok…she said they sucked…but it made my day.  They were a tight group and didn’t mind mugging for the camera. Unfortunately it was too dark to get any decent shots without using flash which I find too distracting. They played knock off Les Pauls and Strats, but played great. Great capper for the day.
During the first break, pictures were taken, tabs paid and back in the bus we went. Headed home…what a party…thanks Pita and Gordon!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Lori Janzen says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful images of the coast, the day-to-day Nica life at the marketplace, and your stories of interactions amongst friends. Happy for you to have these stimulating and enriching experiences.


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