This picture was taken in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It’s a small town in the south central part of the state but will be forever known in history books as the site of one of the worst battles in the American Civil War. I took the picture of this street sign not because it was anything striking or impressive, but rather for the words below it-Leon, Nicaragua 1925 miles. Excluding perhaps Nicaraguan immigrants which I still don’t think number too plentiful in Pennsylvania, when I saw the sign I doubted that anyone in Gettysburg even knew where this was. Although I didn’t visit Leon, I was pretty close by when I traveled to Nicaragua in 2005. I visited Granada, a stunning colonial city on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Leon, is the country’s other famous colonial city. However, these two cities couldn’t have been more different though and as a result maintained a rivalry that lasted for centuries (envision a heated sports team rivalry and then double the intensity). For instance, Granada was favored by Conservatives, Leon by the liberals; each place claimed to be the major city in the country although this was permanently remedied when the capital of Managua was established.
I love signs like this because almost always the distance to the most random of destinations are featured. Even though one can technically drive to Leon from Gettysburg, would anyone actually do so? Why not feature a destination like Washington D.C. or Chicago or even Berlin (many German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries). But no, a small Central American nation that most Americans only know of due to the Iran-contra affair that happened almost 30 years ago has its name right here in small town USA. And for that I smile.