Surf's up near Leon

Poneloya Travel Blog

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A surfer and surf instructor ready to brave the waves at Las Penitas beach.
Hello all,
The plan today is to take a little day trip down to the Pacific coast for some lunch and to check out the sights.  Poneloya is known as one of the best surfing beaches in Nicaragua, and it's proximity to Leon gives it a steady stream of visitors throughout the year.

I researched the trip and found out that the 'chicken busses' leave from the west side of Leon about 4km from the hotel.  I grab a taxi for 15 Cordobas and the taxi drops me off at a small open-air market, next to which was parked an old yellow school bus from the states.  I asked the conductor if this was the bus to Poneloya, and he confirmed it.  The bus was already full, so I figured I'd take a wander around the market.

It was a typical Central American open-air market.  In some places you would be overwhelmed by activity, smells, or flies.
Another nice beach shot.
 I try to figure out if I would be able to jettison my American standards and purchase 'fresh' meat from an open-air market with questionable (at best) hygenic and refrigeration standards.  This kind of place is a big change from the nice air conditioned supermarket I checked out yesterday.  I would guess that things here are much cheaper then in the supermarket, and that some people have no choice.  Nicaragua certainly has it's share of poor families, and is among the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.

The bus honks it's horn, and people scramble to get on.  All of the seats are still full, so I take up a standing position near the back of the bus.  I am one of three 'gringos' on the bus which is full of locals on a Sunday morning.  Like most busses in Central America, we make frequent stops to pick-up and drop-off passengers.
The view west towards La Rocas on Las Penitas beach.
 Some of the passengers have been shopping and carry their wares and supplies with them to take back to their homes.  The conductor has a position in the rear of the bus.  He stands guard over many bags, packages, and a few bicycles, and he utilizes the rear 'emergency' door to hand out packages and things to departing passengers.

About halfway through the trip the conductor starts to collect money for the ride.  It turns out that the 45 minute trip will cost me 9 Cordobas (under $0.50).  Not bad for a 25km trip.  I am planning on riding the bus until very near the end, and checking out the surfing beaches near the town of Las Penitas.  I recognize a couple of hotels from the Leon tourist map that have beach frontage, so I get off.
Sunday afternoon, and the families hit the beach as well.
 I walk through the nearest one to the beach and instantly know why this is a surfing beach, and not a swimming beach.  Most tourist guide warn of very dangerous currents and riptides in the area, and I don't really feel like being wet for the next three hours so I take a pass on swimming.

There are a few surfers and wake boarders attempting to negotiate the waves, and although one of my 'goals' on this trip was to surf a bit, I have no problem passing on trying today.  Today is likely to be the last day on the Pacific coast, so I think I'll have to leave that for some other time.  There are a half dozen hotels with bar/restaurants on the beach, so I select one and get a seat.  Strangely enough I seem to be invisible, and I sit there for about 20 minutes without any acknowledgement from an employee.
Surf school... I wonder if they have scholarships for 40 year olds?
 And this was amongst a whirlwind of activity surrounded by occupied tables.  Not feeling like begging to give this place my money,  I move on.

After a short stroll I make it to 'downtown' Las Penitas, a little ramshakle seaside town positioned on an empty, sandy bottomed bay.  On the bay is a little hotel called Barco de Oro, a French owned hotel which is a former nightclub frequented by 60's era dictator Anastasio Somoza.  I ordered some food and had a relaxing little meal.  As I was eating I realized that the empty bay was filling up rather quickly as the tide came in.  It only took about 30 minutes for the bay to fill entirely, and there was even a small 'tidal bore' wave that moved in.  It was a great setting.

I heard the bus horn honk from up the road, and knew that it was time to head back.
View through the rocks.
 The busses run about once an hour, and I didn't feel like waiting that long for the next one.  After the ride back I figured that I would walk back to the hotel and save the 15 Cordobas.  Transportation for my nice little day trip ended up costing me 37 Cordobas ($2.02).

The regularly 'scheduled' thunderstorm hit Leon at about 5pm, and it was a good one.  Power was knocked out for a while, and there was a bit of flooding in the streets.  I got caught out a bit coming back from a restaurant, but not too bad.

I spent the rest of the night enjoying the A/C in the room and planning future trip things on the 'net.

Tomorrow is the long, hot trip to El Salvador.

Later, Phil
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A surfer and surf instructor read…
Another nice beach shot.
Another nice beach shot.
The view west towards La Rocas on …
The view west towards La Rocas on…
Sunday afternoon, and the families…
Sunday afternoon, and the familie…
Surf school...  I wonder if they h…
Surf school... I wonder if they …
View through the rocks.
View through the rocks.
Trying to get that waves crashing…
Trying to get that 'waves crashin…
Poneloya
photo by: gopackjo