León's history has been long and hard (as has that of all Nicaragua). The castillian colonial buildings themselves practically say everything -- destroyed cathedrals and bullet holes in the walls tell a story of violence and war and a continuing inability to move on and rebuild a united country. If you walk through the central park at night you can see sleeping on benches both a legless war vet and a parentless 10-year-old -- one scarred by a past, the other afraid of the future.
León's liberals and Granada's conservatives fought for a number of years for power -- both wanted to be the capital of Nicaragua. During the revolution in 1979, the Sandinistas (del alma) took over León, but Somoza heartlessly bombed his own people in order to clear the Sandinistas out of the city. The Sandinistas eventually re-took the city and held it until Somoza fell.
|Part of Granada's central plaza, the cathedral, and a few colonial buildings|
As with any well-kept colonial city, Granada is pretty touristy, so I only stayed one night and managed to enjoy myself despite the throngs of camera-wielding elderly Germans and hippie backpackers.
Right now I'm on Ometepe Island, a volcanic island on Lake Nicaragua. Post to come.