Muchas Gracias Balmacedas

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Day 89: Leon Nicaragua

While it’s true that I fell in love with Leon, the reason I chose to stay over three weeks instead of the 5 days originally planned was because of a very special family.

After 3 months of traveling you really start to feel like a transient person with no real connection to anyone or anything.

I was starting to feel travel fatigue and a sense of somewhat being lost.

Everyone raves about staying with a family while taking Spanish classes and I had no idea how much it would change my experience.

I’m leaving this family feeling sad because I don’t know when I’ll see them again (fingers crossed their gay friend gets married in Toronto) but also reenergized.

It was really great to be part of a family that is clearly so close and tightly knit. Each of them were so wonderful and I have so much to thank them for:


Who told me the first day that “mi casa es su casa” and welcomed me far more than a host mother was required to do.

She taught me how to make fijoles fritas and watched Donde Esta Elisa? with me. She was so incredibly patient as I frequently told her that I didn’t know/understand most of what she was saying but managed to make sure I always ate dinner.

Who invited me out for a car ride the first night with the family so I could see the city, he pointed out the major sites and then went to the rich neighbourhood to look at the mansions.

Douglas always spoke very slowly so we had a lot of nice conversations about the differences between Canada and Nicaragua.

I learned a lot about the culture from him.

The last night he gave me a hat he wore working in the mountains because when I climbed Cerro Negro I foolishly had a massive burn and he wanted me to have some kind of protection.


Johana (far left)
My translator much of the time when I had no idea what the family was trying to ask me.

Her love for all things Twilight makes me smile as I learned that even though our countries are so different, teenagers are the same everywhere.

Francis (second from right)
Who was home during the days healing from surgery to remove her appendix, I spent the first few days watching television with her and she shared what music was popular in Nicaragua.

She has a great sense of humour, although a lot of the time I think she was making fun of me. She reminded me a lot of my younger sister when we were kids.


Esmerlada and Oscar
A young married couple, these two were really great friends to me.

Before they moved into their home they stayed in my room and the second day I was there brought a fan for the room because they knew it was insanely hot.

Oscar taught me a lot of Spanish because he always corrected what I was saying, even if they were tenses I hadn’t learned yet.

He also reminded me to speak Spanish even though both he and Esmerelda could speak English well. Talking to them each night reminded me of my friends at home.

Esmerelda invited me out for my birthday, introduced me to her friends and endured a massive hangover the next day.

I still have so much more of Nicaragua to see but if anyone asked me my favorite country so far it would definitely be Nicaragua and it’s because of this family.

Instead of being a foreigner, staying at hostels and looking in from the outside I felt like I was living there and was starting to understand.

But my mother and sister are meeting me in Ecuador in August so I must move on, and it’s probably for the best as I would have stayed in Leon as I didn’t have a reason to leave.


Join the Conversation

  1. Esmeralda says:

    Ayngelina, que bonito todo lo que expresastes de nosotros…aquí siempre te recordamos y te apreciamos mucho..y siempre te estaremos esperando cuando decidas regresar…

  2. Sounds like such a wonderful time. I have to admit that my favorite part of travel is staying put somewhere for a while. Happy trails on your next leg!

  3. I look forward to living with a family the next time I am down south. It seems like the perfect way to adopt the culture. Keep up the good work.

  4. Douglas Balmaceda says:

    Your Message Hola Ayngelina, me encantaron las fotos de todos nosotros, solo falto ud. con nosotros en las fotos. Fue un gran placer que haya estado en mi casa que siempre sera su casa cuando algun dia quiera volver, saludos de nuestra parte.

  5. Hi! I’ve been reading your blog as I’m also planning on travelling solo in Central America! It’s been an amazing read and sounds like you had an amazing time!!! I was wondering how you found a host family to stay with to learn Spanish? I’d be really interested to do this as well!

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