We arrived at our hotel, a former convent, in time to take a shower and to think about what we were going to wear to a part especially thrown for us as IVY members. Everyone looked fantastic in their dancing clothes. We would be watching a traditional dance and enjoying a home-cooked meal before we tried some salsa ourselves. I was by far the least dressed up—but we were about to get pretty sweaty dancing.
Arriving at the dance school where we would be watching the performance, we were greeted by figures on stilts swaying to the music. Each of the dancers wore costumes representing different characters in Nicaraguan folklore. One was of a woman who couldn’t lose her virginity because she was so ugly and haunted the streets of Leon looking for men to suffocate with her giant breasts. We got a good laugh as she grabbed several of the guys from our group and subjected them to the ritual.
I was amazed at the dexterity of the dancers as they managed to play drums, dance, and keep time to the music. I couldn’t imagine doing it without the stilts, let alone towering above us. The food was delicious, but it was the kindness of the organization that really made us feel welcome. It was heartening how they were so involved in making their community better and how they hoped to create a better future for the young dancers at their school.
After watching them show off their skills, it was time to try out our own. It had been a while since I had broken out any of my basic salsa skills, but thankfully the teachers (in Spanish, nonetheless) managed to make it for easy for us. We danced for several hours, each of finding out that we were much better at Latin dancing than we could have thought. Finishing with the Macarena, it was difficult not to be ready for a night out at the salsa clubs throughout the city. We were ready to meet some locals and have some fun.
Waking up from a late night out (or an early morning), we hurried to meet our local tour guide for the day. He would take us around some of the neighborhoods where we would be visiting the gorgeous cathedral. Stopping to ogle some of the delicious goods and a few parrots on display, our guide mentioned that we would have to be respectful on our tour—we were taking a special trip up to the top in order to get some amazing views of the city. What we didn’t know was that the cathedral itself was worth the visit up. Looking like white clouds, the domes reminded me of some of the architecture I had seen in Spain with some Moorish influence.
We could see most of Leon from up above and we learned the secret ingredient to the beautiful white coloring of the cathedral—egg white. Climbing down, we entered the cathedral itself. I had never seen a church that used light the way this one did. It hardly needed any help from electrical lights—almost all of it was powered from the bright sunshine outside.
It was time to say goodbye. It had been a jam-packed four days, and we had all grown close after watching each other brave our fears zip lining, turf it while surfing, and admiring each other’s dance moves. The wonderful thing was that we knew we could all easily meet up again as IVY members. This was just the beginning of our adventures together, so the goodbyes didn’t feel so sad.
Have you ever been on a trip that created some amazing friendships?
Thanks for IVY for sponsoring my time in Nicaragua. Interested in traveling with them? They’re headed to Cuba next.