Nicaragua, Leon, 9 February 2016

I was up earlier than Daisy again this morning and brought Ogblog up to date.  While doing so I realised that my hat was missing and concluded that I must have left it in Cafe Taquezal.  I’m making a habit of abandoning that battered old hat temporarily these days – must be a sign but I was hoping to get it back for a while longer – it makes a good talking point on this holiday.

I try some cornflakes this morning rather than the yoghurt, but the milk has a similar unreal taste to the yoghurt – perhaps they have milk fortification regulations here that make all dairy products taste that way. Toast and bacon was an improvement on the pastry things. Janie stuck with that from the previous day. The orange juice is very good here, btw.

We have a free day in Leon today and fancy only a light bit of touring. We go across to the next block to the Ortiz-Guardian Foundation gallery/museaum. Despite the proximity of this visit and my enviable track record as a guide, Daisy still stops on the way to ask directions from a bemused fellow who speaks no English and doesn’t seem to know where museums are in any language.

We get to see a Joan Miro exhibition and also the Ortiz-Guardian’s fine collection of Praxis Movement and other modern Latin American artists’ works. There was also some seriously old stuff of the religious iconography kind, which we walked through swiftly. Daisy noticed that the Ortiz family seems to have styled the garden of the convent hotel on the style of their old house complex, which this museum presumably is.

Next stop; again just a block or so away, the Ruben Dario Museum.  Daisy wants to photograph me reading my Ruben Dario book in the inner courtyard, which takes a while to stage manage.


At one point Daisy complains that the signs are all in Spanish so she dosn’t understand, at which point I try to help by pointing out pictures of his two wives and explaining the story of his marriages.  “Are you making this up?”, asks Daisy, perhaps unable to imagine that I might have actually taken in the stuff I read about Dario’s life in that book. I shouldn’t have dignified that remark with a reply, but I did.

Next we continue the search for CDs, by stopping at a musical instrument shop where a very helpful fellow takes great pains to show on a map and via Google traslate where a good possible source is located; near the Cathedral, where we are heading anyway.

Next stop, El Sesteo, where we take some refreshment (Coke Zero in my case, Carrot and Orange juice in Daisy”s case) and conclude that this place really does offer the homely local dishes we want to try, so we shall indeed return here tonight.

Then on to our hot lead for CDs, where we have certainly scored to some extent, not least because the CDs are so cheap.  I buy four and we can see if Guillermo can help add to my collection tomorrow; I don’t think the Caribbean side’s musical tradition is much represented on the four I have bought. But we shall find out what Elvis Crespo sounds like, which is important.

Then round to Cafe Taquezal, where an inquisitive gesticulation towards my head soon leads to recognition and the production of my battered old sombrero. Sweet success.

We could have come straight home, but I suggested a quick look at an artesenal shop we passed near the Ruben Dario Museum which might have a suitable little ornament for Mandy White’s sand pit (long story). This proves to be a relatively expensive suggestion on my part, as Daisy spots some rather beautiful and well-made occasonal dishes, which should make nice gifts.

Then back to the hotel, for some beer and nuts. I earn my right to those after working out how to use the lightening adapter thingie to import our photos onto Daisy’s iPad, which is a jolly good way of looking at the pictures on a decent-sized screen, although perhaps not an ideal method for uploading pictures to Ogblog and making sure they look the right way around on all devices –  we’ll live and learn.

Then we both feel sleepy so decide to take a siesta – Daisy clearly in more need than me as she has slept on long enough to enable me to write up the day so far and more besides.

Indeed, Daisy turns out to be so sleepy that I need to wake her up in order to have any chance of getting some dinner. She claims she is now refreshed and busily gets ready to go out for dinner. “Don’t let me forget my hat”, I say as we set off. “Do you really need that thing this evening?” asks Daisy.  She has a point, unlike the hat which has a hole where the point should be.

So it is off to El Sesteo, where we try three massive dishes of local fare – nacatamales (a sort-of Nicaraguan pork and chicken cholent), a variation on vigoron (pork with yucca) and a mixed plate of shredded pork, rice, plantain etc. which I think is designed to give tourists a low-risk try of several tasty local things.  It was all very enjoyable and of course far too much food.

A little boy hangs around, almost discreetly, outside the restaurant near our table. Daisy wonders whether we should give him some of the food.  I wonder whether the restaurant would approve of that.  Daisy asks a waitress, so after getting the nod she makes up a little food parcel for the kid before we send our plates back. The kid thanks her politely and skulks away to eat alone in a cat-like fashion.

Two glasses of wine, water, more food than we could possibly eat for $25, including a healthy tip which seems to please the staff. Great to try, but we won’t be rushing to try those local dishes again.

We get home, Daisy more or less immediately puts herself to bed despite her long afternoon sleep, but before dropping off says, “where’s your hat?”  I suggest that she forgot to remind me; Daisy suggests that my stupid hat is my own stupid responsibility. She has a point again.

I offer to return to the restaurant alone, but Daisy insists that she is not letting me out of her sight. I wonder whether she is worried about me falling foul of the pretty Nicaraguan university student girls, but she says she thinks the greater risk is me falling badly in one of the copious potholes in the Leon pavements.

Anyway, it is but a short walk and of course, yet again, my hat is still there.

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