LAS TORTUGAS

We have a few building lots left. Email us at lastortugasatfalsebluff@gmail.com for information.

08 August 2022

An Increasing Commitment

During our decade-plus involvement in Nicaragua's southern autonomous region, we have become very enmeshed with life and with lives there.  We've attended weddings and graduations and award ceremonies.  We've celebrated births and mourned losses.

We've not just made good friends - we've added to our family .  

And recently, continuing our commitment, we've purchased a house in one of Bluefields seventeen neighborhoods: Santa Rosa, Central, San Mateo, Pointeen, Fátima, Three Cross, Ricardo Morales, Old Bank, San Pedro, Teodoro Martínez, 19 de Julio, Pancasán, Punta Fría, New York, Beholden, Canal, Loma Fresca.

We will be renovating the small house in a neighborhood which includes a peninsula that pokes into Bluefields Bay. As with False Bluff itself, most of the houses in our new neighborhood are on the water...but Bluefields is a water-based community so being on the water isn’t difficult.

The house will be our de facto headquarters: a place for us to stay during extended visits, a place for friends and family to get to know our part of Nicaragua...

And a place where our boat can live, where our staff can leave a boat, where loading supplies to haul to False Bluff will be so much simpler. All of this will be easier with a 'parking' lot right in town.


19 July 2022

Beach Maintenance

 Bit of raking, sea trash cleaning, and fence repair keeps the farms looking great.




05 July 2022

 PUMICE

     ...is a rock that forms during a volcanic eruption.  It's so full of inner spaces, spaces that were gas bubbles at the time of formation, that the stuff floats.  And it floats right up onto the beach at False Bluff.   

     We rarely find a really big piece but the stuff has such different shapes and colors and textures that finding any of it is a treat...kind of like an Easter egg hunt...only on the beach and not just at Easter.

    There are buckets full of the stuff at False Bluff but lots of it makes it back home at the end of each stay.

     Here are a few samples showing some of the wide array of colors and shapes.





     



21 June 2022

South FaB after 3 Years

 These pictures were taken from the central walkway looking south.  You can see how the coconuts are growing into the cleared area of the second farm.  This is after 3 years of maintenance.




07 June 2022

 TRASH IN OUR WATER

    Trash on the beach at False Bluff is mostly plastic and cleaning it up takes time...but at least we can clean it up.  Once it hits the beach, once it's on land, we can walk up and down and pick it up, can remove it, can bury or burn it.  We can keep our section of beach clean and the reward makes our efforts worthwhile.


     But the biggest problem with trash, plastic or otherwise, is when it's in our water - all over the world.  That situation defies individual efforts to collect and dispose of it.  

    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not the only water borne garbage patch but it's "...the world's largest accumulation of marine plastic, stretching 610,000 square miles or three times the size of France."


  • Animals and plants are living on world's largest accumulation of marine plastic
  • Anemones, hydroids & shrimp-like amphipods on 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'
  • They are not only surviving but thriving on mass between California and Hawaii
  • The 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' holds an estimated 79,000 tonnes of plastic


https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-10263711/Animals-plants-living-Great-Pacific-Garbage-Patch.html

24 May 2022

 CASHEWS GROW ON APPLES

     At False Bluff we have both yellow and red cashew apples.  

     Who knew that in some places in the world the nut, the seed, is less important than the fruit it grows on...not in, but on.  It's that thing on the bottom.  

     And there's only one seed per apple, which explains why cashews are so expensive when you can't grow your own.

Yellow cashew apple

Red cashew apple




10 May 2022

 A PLAN, RIGHT FROM THE START

     A canal for easy and safe access. Clearing brush and planting stuff to replace it.  And planting with an end result in mind.

     The end result will be some sort of tourism, sharing this incredibly beautiful quiet place with others.  

     So a large number of the first coconut trees were planted to form a pathway running north and south to our boundaries in those directions.  Our east and west boundaries are water...the Caribbean to the east and the lagoon to the north...easy.

     Coconut trees are spaced at about 15' apart on both sides of a pathway wide enough to eventually accommodate a golf cart or something of a similar size. 

THE FIRST PATHWAY

 New

...and the same path a few years later


A NEWER SECTION OF PATHWAY


     Between the trees on the west side of the pathway we either have planted, or are planting, something commonly known in the area as a swamp lily.  This forms a thick clump pretty quickly but isn't invasive, instead growing pretty much in line with the coconut trees and forming a living and blooming fence. 

     The swamp lily, with huge onion-like tubers, is one of very few ornamental plants that can withstand the really tough Caribbean weather; and it can grow right up to the water's edge.  The flower is beautiful... ethereal without being frail; and the things bloom off and on all year long.  We use this plant a lot.





26 April 2022

 HOMESCHOOLING

     Chickens are food at False Bluff and almost always penned up.

     But a new momma is allowed leeway and some surprising things are seen.



12 April 2022

Tree Down, Canal Blocked

Shame to see one of the close by large trees come down and block the canal.





Canal is clear again.



29 March 2022

Plush Front Yard

The front yard has grown in and is really looking nice.  Yes, the grass is as plush and soft as it looks.




15 March 2022

LUMBER THIEVES

     A couple of times, coming into the canal from the lagoon, heading for the beach, we've come across very clear signs that people have used our canal for the wrong reason:  easy access to wood, lumber, building materials.  

     To date we've not had anybody arrested.  A couple of diligent days (and nights) have interrupted the work and kept the people from coming back.  When you listen for it, when you're on alert, you can hear a chain saw even from nearly a half-mile away.










01 March 2022

Fence Repair

Wood and ferrous metal do not last long on the Miskito Coast.  Time to replace some posts and retighten the wire.



This fence is along the central path that divides the north farms and the south farms.



15 February 2022

 FROM THE CANAL TO THE LAGOON

     Even before we began to clear and plant at False Bluff we decided to have a canal dug from Smokey Lane Lagoon all the way up to a landing place close to the Caribbean.  

     We had made our first trips out to False Bluff by way of the Caribbean...and some of the trips were not pleasant.  Thus, hiring a crew to hand dig a half mile canal through a mangrove swamp was a no brainer.

     Now we come and go with ease and safety.  Many others do the same because we have opened the canal to the public from sunrise to sunset.  People use the canal who had spend decades, hauling stuff from town and slogging through the swamp on foot rather than risking a boat trip loaded with supplies.  

     And some now take family members out - very young or very old family members who had never made the trip before because renting a boat and making the trip via the Caribbean was too expensive, or because carrying supplies through the swamp was just too much.

     At the end of a visit, be the visit hours or days long, travelers move by boat through a leafy tunnel and out into the sunny lagoon.





01 February 2022

 TRASH.  LOTS AND LOTS OF TRASH

     Pumice isn't the only thing that washes up on our beach, by far.  Almost nobody lives along our section of Nicaragua's Caribbean coast and so thrash has floated in for decades...most of it overboard from some passing boat since the closest land-side civilization to us is 40 miles away.

     Cleaning up the beach was something that started as soon as we began clearing.  Keeping it clean continues on an almost daily basis as more stuff comes in on every tide.  Initially a huge amount of all kinds of trash ended up in big deep holes...and was burned.  The holes aren't so big any more.


     Keeping our section of beach clean is an ongoing effort but the difference is noticeable as one walks along our place to uncleaned properties either north of south of us.  We have not committed to picking up trash along a 26 mile section of beach.

     The pictures below shows trash at False Bluff at its worst.  This trash is long gone.





30 December 2021

 


A SPECIAL KIND OF ZOYSIA


WHERE IT BEGAN

     So - after clearing, and after beginning to plant coconut trees, the shrubby undergrowth kept coming back…fast.  A lot of time was spent chopping the damned stuff down....a lot of time we considered wasted, since there was so much other stuff to do.



    I remembered having seen a very thick grass that grows on at least one of Nicaragua’s islands. The stuff seemed to inhibit unwanted growth...where the grass grew, undergrowth didn't. The grass would be a beautiful solution to both the brush and the work problem.

Bright green, tough, and beautiful but nowhere near False Bluff. But I found a small patch in the front yard of a school in Bluefields, only eight miles away from our place - a whole lot closer than the island. And what was in the school yard had followed cracks down the retaining wall into cracks in the sidewalk…a public area.  I figured the bit of grass in the public right of way was free for the taking.  And so I did…


     But the amount I considered free for the taking, truly was a ‘bit’ of grass.  I harvested enough to have made two footballs. Then I separated that into tiny pieces and planted each small piece in a box. Rather than two footballs I had two small boxes.

Once the boxed pieces had established themselves, I removed and planted each (still tiny…we’re talking just a few weeks here) on the leeward side at the base of coconut trees, old and young.  The grass has an affinity for coconut trees, massing at their bases; and the leeward position gave protection from the ever blowing breeze/wind off the sea while the grass took hold. This is how it began, one or two small plugs at a time.

A young tree gets one

(The stuff on the right side is a weed grass)



This old tree gets two 


     The grass grows in an interesting starburst pattern, one section extending from one tree, reaching out to knit itself with a section at the base of another tree.  (I’d never seen it at its beginning.)  As each section stabilized, we cut 4” plugs out of the more well developed turf and transplanted these plugs at the base of our increasing coconut tree plantation.  




     And 'knit' really does describe what the stuff does. It forms a tough mat, similar to a scrubbing pad, but it's comfortable to walk on, even barefoot.  Also it turns out the fire ants hate it, so that’s one pest gone; and snakes don’t like it, so that’s another pest gone.  Neither the ants nor the snakes can navigate through it - they have to travel over it….something they don’t do.



     In addition to being very good at holding soil, right up to the water’s edge, it's drought resistant so that when every other low growing plant turns brown during the dry season, this stuff is so emerald green it seems to glow. 


WHERE IT IS NOW


Incredible stuff.....









25 December 2021

Coconut Trees, First In

      We have a sizeable piece of property on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.  When we first ventured there, there were old coconut trees and some sea grape plants…but mostly there was scrub so thick that moving into it was like stepping into an oven…it blocked every sea breeze.  And it was scratchy.


We concentrated on clearing and planting the northernmost section, something done with machetes…and very labor intensive.  Initially we planted only coconut trees.  At first we bought young trees in Bluefields, eight miles away.  But as we cleared around mature trees that were already there, those trees dropped coconuts into spaces we had cleared. And the cleared areas allowed those big seeds - coconuts - to germinate and grow.

So we began transplanting home-grown babies instead of buying plants somewhere else.  And then we set the un-sprouted coconuts in areas conducive to sprouting, supplying ourselves with a seemingly endless supply of baby trees, which we then planted.

And then those baby trees grew big enough to drop more coconuts and on and on it went…on and on it still goes.



And this is what we have now.