For a hilariously frightful (or frightfully hilarious) break from volcano boarding and surf lessons, check out Leon’s infamous Museo de Leyendas y Tradiciones.
Time needed: one hour
Ideal for: Anyone who isn’t squeamish about badly done mannequins or goofy sound effects
The building itself has been restored and the entrance is very colorful and well cultivated and is really one of the best parts about the museum. Behind the field of flowers are mosaic depictions of some of the myths such as the headless priest and the crier. The mosaics are very detailed and worth a close-up look if your guide doesn’t drag you straight in first.
Guarding the entrance is, of course, a sandinista figure slinging a water balloon.
The museum is located in one of Somoza’s old prisons which was bought cheap after the revolution and turned into the museum you see now by this lovely lady, Doña Carmen Toruño. Don’t worry, the guards on either side of her are British and have no jurisdiction here. Your guide, however, will not let you touch her mummified remains (or sit in her wheelchair, as I found out).
The old prison is a fitting location for the museum since it was the last place that many unfortunate souls ever got to see. Painted on the walls are depictions of the types of nasty stuff that used to go on there. I won’t go into details (think variations of water, electricity and rope), but the Somoza regime was very good in making it a place where many entered and few left. A place of lost hope.
Let me ask you, dear reader, do you believe in Santa Claus? How about the Tooth Fairy? Billy Ray Cyrus? Would you, could you, dear reader, believe that in Nicaragua some believe in an incarnation of all three?
In the museum you will find garden gnomes and trolls, little men with giant heads and giant women with little heads, a caravan of skeletons pulled by a cow that gives only powdered milk, devil dogs, devil pigs and devils, all represented by figures created by leading Nicaraguan mannequin makers (it’s all about the quality).
But there is one figure that popped out at me when I walked by. A figure of a sad, sad woman. Legend has it that she grew up alone in the streets of Managua. She was born with a rather unfortunate strand of DNA that left her with the most gruesome face anyone had ever seen. She was unloved by her parents, unloved by her brothers and sisters and left childless because no man would take her. This woman, however, knew what men wanted, and while she was cursed with looks that could kill (not the good kind), she was blessed with a bosom that could make mountains sit up a little higher to get a better view.
According to the legend, in her desperation to have a child, this woman would roam the streets at night looking for drunk men to seduce. To keep men’s attention away from her hideous face, she would pull out her bosom and call out her name, “Take your titty!” However my guide assured me that, despite a thorough search, there is no “Toma Tu Teta Velazquez” registered in any public record.
There are some other great surprises waiting the visitor to the Museo de Leyendas y Tradiciones in Leon. I will leave you with a few photos which I hope stirs up enough desire to go check it out when you get a chance.
The Museum of Legends and Traditions in Leon Nicaragua. Go check it out; you won’t be disappointed!