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Start to a Gap Year in Nicaragua

Thank you to Nicaragua gap participants Brenna and Nadia for writing about the beginning of their gap year in Leon!


nica beach


The first and most noticeable difference between my home and León are the sounds. The city wakes up early in the morning and makes itself known through the thin hostel walls by horns honking, street vendors yelling, and the whir of many motorcyclists. As the day begins the city is already teeming with life. During this first day in León, sounds continued to be at the forefront of my attention, loud cars, chaotic markets, people talking animatedly in Spanish; everything felt new.

Walking through the city and being able to take it in for the first time feels like a dreamscape, a reminder of the streets I know from Mexico. I feel as if I already know this city with lattice-patterned walls, tiled sidewalks, front gates in front of every door, and the traffic’s refusal to stop. I feel like I’m in a childhood memory. It’s warm and inviting, exciting in a soft way. Even in the darkness I’ve been warned is so dangerous, I can’t help but be charmed by the dim yellow lights lampposts cast on the road, can’t help but be enamored by the gentle breezes in the shadows. Rules are rules though!


leon street


On top of all that, the food here is incredible, The spice and grease is so entwined with the food, one can’t help but fall in love. Being a vegetarian is definitely a bit of a lesson in learning to love rice and beans, but the fried tortillas more than make up for it. That, and the ice cream we tried tonight was otherwordly. Passionfruit, dragonfruit, and coconut are just but a taste of the freshness León has to offer. As touristy as it might be, getting to taste blueberry and lavender ice cream just cemented in my mind the fact that this city cannot let anyone’s taste buds down. I found myself at restaurants going back for more juice over and over, or stealing a bite from a friend’s plate.

The Cathedral roof in the central of the city truly feels surreal. Walking barefoot over the white roof felt like a breath of fresh air over the crowded streets. After walking up impossibly narrow stairs I emerged into a new place entirely. My trance from exploring this new city view was interrupted as I was brought back into reality through the uproar of cathedral bells ringing in my ear. As my first day in León ends, I am still figuring out how the city can feel calm yet chaotic, peaceful yet loud, and totally new but a place from my memory.


leon cathedral


Thinking about a gap year with AMIGOS? Read more information about our programs here.

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