I could call this exchanging travel cheques in Nicaragua part II as I have written about it in Granada page already. I needed money in León too and went to the bank and was clever enough to ask the guard if they exchanged them. In the first bank the answer was no and the guard told me where I should go. I had learnt my lesson and walked to the side desk to have the paper work done. I told the cashier that I wanted cordobas but she wrote US$ anyway. I went to the queue which was long. A man behind me told that I could take another, much shorter queue, next to ours so I went there. Only 3 or 4 people in front of me. Great! My turn came and I gave the papers and my passport to the lady and after a while I got my money, but it was US dollars. I told her that I wanted cordobas and she pointed the card on the desk, which said one errand cashier. I got so mad! If the first lady would have done as I asked (but she wanted the comission I think, changing to cordobas they don't take it) it would have been one errand. What could I do but walk at the end of the queue again. I wished that I had known more Spanish to tell her what I thought. About 15 minutes later I was at her desk again and threw the dollars to her (I am not usually rude but at that moment I was so angry) and got the cordobas. i didn't even say thank you to her when I left. There were two Irish girls after me in the queue who faced the same problem. I exchanged t/c also in Costa Rica and Honduras and had no problems. It took max. 10 minutes there so what's the problem in Nicaragua?
I copied this from my El Fortín tip as it can be taken as a warning as well. When we arrived in León the teacher said that it would be 50 codobas. I told her that we agreed it would be 5 cordobas. My Spanish is not perfect but I am 100% sure that she said 5 cordobas earlier. 50 cordobas is not much money for me and I paid it, but it left me with a feeling of being cheated. The teacher wanted to take me to see other sights of León but I said that I had had enough and left. When you agree something have it written, at least the sum, so they cannot ask for more.
If you are travelling from Honduras to Nicaragua be very careful at the border crossing. This was the worst that I have seen. When the bus got to the border it was stormed by a mob that was yelling and shouting. I was the only white person on the bus. All this commotion was over me. There was about 50 of them. Some of them climbed on the roof and grabbed my backpack and I couldn't see where it was taken because of the mob. I had to exchange some money and was ripped off very badly, they all offered the same horrible rate and wouldn't barter. I would suggest spending most of your money before crossing the border.
It turned out that my backpack wasn't stolen but was put in a taxi. The man said that the customs building was 2 miles away and that I had to take a taxi. He said that he would take me for the equivalent of 1 dollar. When we got to Nicaraguan customs it turned out that it was only what would have been a 5 minute walk, not the 2 miles like the thief said. When I went to pay him the 1 dollar, he said that I owed him 5 dollars! He started yelling and getting mad. I ignored him and left.
The border officials at both the Honduran and Nicaraguan buildings force you to pay bribes. When you get to the window they demand a price. When they give you the receipt it turns out the you paid twice as much as what the receipt says.
To add to all of this it was about 100 degrees there.
This was the worst border crossing that I have ever been to, and I have been to dozens of countries.