Climbing rooftops in Léon, Nicaragua.

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When you hear somebody say ‘volcano boarding’ in Central America, the chances are big they’re talking about the Cerro Negro close to Léon, a beautiful colonial city in Nicaragua. Nothing more fun than a one hour hike up a hot volcano – not lava hot hot hot, but when you dig a little hole while standing on the top, you might burn your fingers – and sledding down on a wooden board. With the right laying-down-and-hold-your-feet-up-technique, you zoom down the slopes in a flash. Yes, what an experience.

Museo de la Revolución Sandinista

While sliding down an active volcano is something I won’t easily forget, thinking about Léon recalls some other encounters. My visit to the Museo de la Revolución Sandinista for instance. – yeah, yeah, blabla, just another museum you might think. Nope, this one is special – Imagine Léon, at that time THE revolutionary breeding ground in Nicaragua. During the period when the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza government. People fought in the streets. People got wounded and died for a better future, for the cause they believed in. Not even that long ago. Imagine a museum run by Sandinista-veterans. Who gathered all their pictures and stories in one decrepit building – decrepit but beautiful – and run the museum by themselves, by giving tours and remembering history out loud. I thought I should give it a shot while I was still in Léon.

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Square between the museum and the cathedral.

Perfect personal tour

I absolutely loved it. After paying the entrance fee, a seventy-something Sandinista veteran introduced himself as my guide for the day. Starting in the courtyard with various murals in honor of the fallen Sandinista soldiers, the start of the revolution and its historical background became clear to me. – as far as possible with my basic Spanish – After picking up his cellphone – that was placed in a tear in the canvas of the most beloved Sandinista soldier, in the middle of one of the two museum halls, where it was charging. A view in a museum which totally screams Central America. I was too surprised to be quick enough to take a picture – he told me the rest, where things started, who of his friends and relatives got killed and how the fights finally ended. Two halls filled with memories on pictures, snapshots of a past. And then, the final part of my personal tour. A visit too the roof. After climbing stairs in the beautiful, but dilapidated colonial house, we reached the corrugated sheet roof. Up the roof, the sun is burning. The iron is hot and we both only wear flip-flops on our feet. When standing on an iron roof, hand in hand with a seventy-something revolutionary, – because the roof had holes and he knew where the corrugated sheets were weak –  overlooking the magnificent view of architecture and volcanoes, that tour became one of my most treasured memories of Léon.

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Heroes of Léon.

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Sympatising with other revolutionaries?

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Yep, my guide.

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Other parts of the roof.

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View on the white cathedral.

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Léon is filled with murals about the Revolution.

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For freedom.

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More murals.

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