After one day in Saint Paul back from Portland, we got up at 3:30 AM Xmas day to take a cab to the airport, for a connection through Atlanta to Nicaragua - which is where we are now. The flights were smooth and uneventful, and it was nice - after a solid month of 30s and low 40s - to experience tropical 80s.
(Click photos to enlarge them.)
While we waited for our driver to pick up another couple, I took this photo of the front and superstructure of the Managua airport.
We're spending our first three days in Leon, a colonial city about 50 miles from Managua. Halfway through the drive, we pulled over for a view of the impressively tall and symmetrical Volcano Mototombo on the shores of Lake Managua.
We checked into our Leon hotel, La Perla, which occupies an elegantly restored colonial building in the neoclassical style, dating from the 1700s.
From our balcony at sunset, we were greeted with the spectacular sight of the Church of the Recollection, a few blocks across town, bathed in golden light.
We decided to walk down to the square and the cathedral, on the way passing this fellow unwinding after a doubtless hard day ...
... and this small portion of a larger mural keeping alive the memory of the oppression of the Somoza days.
Coming to the cathedral square, we found a lively Christmas evening celebration going on, including this whirling, very tall lady powered by a small lad underneath her skirts.
Across the square to the west was another church (there are many in this area) with unusual spires silhouetted against a beautiful sunset.
Wandering some more around the cathedral square, we came upon kids with their parents waiting to talk to Santa,
a big horse on which little kids could sit to be photographed, with the cathedral in the background,
and a lady cooking dinner for the crowd. All in all, a nice introduction to Nicaragua.