The ship landed in Corinto, Nicaragua, at 7 AM and an early morning shore excursion meant an early breakfast. The ship was met with a live band and much fanfare.
The bus departed for colonial Leon and the oldest botanical garden in Central America. The 12 hectare garden hosts over 1200 plant species and 80 species of birds, all of which are representative of a tropical dry forest. The one hour tour allowed visitors to walk around the garden on their own, and while there were some birds and butterflies, the Pacific breeze and poor choice of camera lens resulted in a poor photo shoot.
Old Leon has retained its colonial architecture of one-story houses with tile and wooden roofs. The tour included a visit to Leon’central Park, common to most Spanish colonial cities and towns, bordered by the La Asunción Basilica and Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and various markets. Icy cold Victoria beer, a Nicaraguan beer, was sold at one of the sidewalk cafes and beckoned me to taste.
The return trip to the ship passed some of the 40-mile line of volcanoes along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast; two are currently active and gasses billowing from their tops were easily visible.
According to the guide, a former Sandinista rebel, Nicaragua has a very high literacy rate. There are some 100,00 autos, trucks, etc. in the country versus over 300,000 motorcycles. There were many small horse/pony drawn carts using the roadways. Nicaragua has a heavy dependency on Venezuela for its existence, but China is now investing very heavily in the country to take advantage of the country’s resources. A hybrid “democracy” is the current form of governance, though the country is now trying to emulate China with consolidation of power among all elements of government.
The ship was relatively quiet as many of the passengers were watching the Super Bowl, and no shows were being presented. We did listen to “Leo”, our favorite entertainer on the ship.