LAS TORTUGAS

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

08 October 2019

More than 90% Completed


The national road to Bluefields is more than 90% completed.  The public buses have been running for about a year now on the new road.  There were some issues in the beginning but it sounds like things are smoother now.  It will be interesting to see how much commerce increases once the final parts of the road are completed.



14 August 2019

Bluefields Market


Just a few pictures from the public market in Bluefields.  A good view and some good affordable meals up on the second floor.




23 July 2019

16 July 2019

Under Roof and Being Stuccoed


The cabins are moving right along.  Both are walled in and almost all the way under roof.  Stucco is being applied and they will soon get some paint.




  

09 July 2019

Selective Clearing Underway - South False Bluff


Selective clearing has begun on south False Bluff.  Some of the undergrowth will be removed to start planting more of the native coconuts.  This will produce more coconuts to sell while also providing a very nice beach area for our visitors.




02 July 2019

Breezy Day at False Bluff

The Caribbean might be a bit choppy, but a steady breeze makes for an enjoyable beach day at False Bluff.



25 June 2019

Knitting Netting

Making it look so quick and easy.


Not only does it take skill to make a cast net but also takes skill to use one.  A good thing to know out at False Bluff.





18 June 2019

Canal Brush Clearing

Our 800 meter canal from Smokey Lane Lagoon up to the Caribbean Beach at False Bluff is one of the more scenic parts of the boat trip out.  The lower vegetation has been cut back to provide further visibility and increased sunlight for some future landscaping.




11 June 2019

Cabins Update

Just a quick update on the cabins.  Flooring is being installed on the southern one.


The northern cabin is under roof and waiting to be plastered and painted.  Had to take down one coconut that was hitting the front porch and roof.



28 May 2019

Delays

     We're working on some changes to our False Bluff site and so there have been delays between updates.  That bothers us but hopefully we can get the issue straightened out sooner than later.  
     A deluge of stories have been available from all over the world about junk, garbage, trash in the seas and oceans of the world...mostly plastic.  And, of course, most of the stories are about the plastic and we want to provide a space here for some of these stories.  
     Part of our 'want' in that regard is that fighting trash on the unbelievably lovely beach at False Bluff is a daily chore.  It's interesting to note that when one walks either north or south along the beach at False Bluff there's a clear line indicating where our property ends:  we police the section of beach in front of our place but whoever owns the properties both north and south of us do not.  Please note that we don't get it right all the time...the damned stuff rolls in with every tide...but we're trying.
     So plastic and other trash is personal for us at False Bluff.  It should be personal for all of us...like this story, one of many about what a renowned chef finds while preparing food for his diners in one of his restaurants - article.


09 May 2019

Cabins going up

     For too long, the 'lede' picture here (if a picture can be a lede) has been of timber drying before being used to construct two cabins.  So here's a partial catch-up on how that wood's becoming useful places to stay.  
     All of our new buildings are set 8' above ground level so that the space below each cabin can be used for shady relaxation.  
     The first thing that happened was that the floor was attached to the supporting piers, constructed some time ago.  These two units are about 10' apart and not exactly side-by-side as shown here.


     And then came the flooring and the walls.  You can see where two large windows will open onto the front porch facing the sea, with a door opening at the right hand side of this front wall.  The windows of the units and their front porches (these front porches are accessible only from inside the cabin) will catch both views and breezes.


     The walls on this cabin are seen here from ground level.  The bump-out at the left and rear of the building is the landing (for stairs that hadn't been attached at the time of this photo).


26 April 2019

Nosy pelicans

     As long as I can remember, every morning - almost to the minute - a group of pelicans has flown south to north wherever the water meets the sand which is a slightly different place from day to day, entirely dependent on the tide.  
     Then an hour or so later they made the return trip, southbound from wherever they went.  
     When the sea is calm they'll sit in the warm Caribbean water, bobbing gently.
     This has been their habit for years.

     But that habit changed when construction began on our new buildings.  I noticed it particularly when I would be working upstairs at El Nido....applying caulk, sanding boards, most any kind of work.  Finally I realized I could just quit whatever I was doing and plop down in a chair on the porch and watch.  That was enough for them.  It turned out they were nosy.  

     Instead of flying along the water's edge they rerouted, moving a bit inland and closer to the ongoing work.  They don't stop to visit, but they fly lower and closer than they have for all those past years...close enough for me to watch their shadows chase them as they go by.  And they make more trips.





17 April 2019

The rise in ocean plastics...AMENDED

     SOMETIMES THERE'S GOOD NEWS

    Increasingly there are groups, large and small, commercial and otherwise, working to solve some of earth's problems.  These two are providing alternatives.
     Precious Plastic "...is a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution."  Their site provides tutorials, a large selection of free source plans for things like "...machines that enable anyone to recycle plastic..."  and even a bazaar for selling items made from recycled plastic ranging from baskets to jewelry to drawer knobs.  One of the things I found most hopeful was the map that shows how far their community reaches.  Cruise their site at https://preciousplastic.com/
     A very recently introduced effort at combating plastic pollution is Ralph Lauren's "Earth Polo."  Their site proclaims that "Each shirt is made from 12 plastic bottles" and the company pledges to recycle hundreds of millions of plastic bottles by 2025.  And do I care that the shirt is expensive?  If the shirts last as long as the bottles that are currently floating in our oceans and washing up on our shores last, they're worth every penny:  https://tinyurl.com/y3voy5hw


ORIGINAL POST

     Experts, studying data from plastic caught in the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) between 1967 and 2016 has confirmed a rapid increase in plastic pollution in our oceans.  In 2015 is was estimated that 50 million tons 'littered' earth's water; and it is estimated that this will increase by 2025 to 150 million tons.  
     That's a lot of zeroes and a lot of plastic trash in the earth's seas; and what makes all this even worse is that the survey and the resultant report is based on information captured in ONLY "...the North Atlantic and adjacent seas..." 
     The CPR survey is part of the Marine Biological Association of the UK:

     The data is compiled in the report here:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09506-1





30 March 2019

The making of clay building materials - part 3

     After whatever was loaded into the kiln has been fired (baked) long enough - days in the case of this wood fired kiln - the end products cool for another few days as the temperature in the kiln makes removal possible.  The resultant material is stacked, ready for sale.  There is a dramatic change from fragile greenware made of clay/dirt that was dug on site plus volcanic ash plus water.  Lovely material strong enough to build with.



     Close-up below shows the color of the fired material whether bricks or floor tiles or roof tiles.  None of what's made at this operation is glazed.  Everything that comes out of the heat is terra-cotta which, translated, simply means 'baked earth.'  



     But, as happens in firings everywhere, some material comes out damaged and thus isn't suitable for sale.  A lot of the damaged stuff is used on site such as the storage shed shown below.  The unfired material drying in the sun in front of the shed clearly shows the before and after firing colors.



     Close-up of a portion of the wall shown above:



24 March 2019

The making of clay building materials - part 2

     There are a lot of tile and brick making operations along the Pan Am Highway not too far out of Managua and most seem, like this one, to be family operated.  Everybody has a job...some mix the clay-ash-water that makes the tiles and bricks; another cuts or gathers the wood and stacks it close by for the firing; someone else loads the kiln; and on it goes.  Here are three generations who operate this kiln (with a volcano and a woman visitor showing in the background).



     After the clay, packed into molds, is partially dry the bricks or tiles are removed from the molds and placed on the ground to dry some more.  When thoroughly dry - and the people who do this for a living are good judges of 'thoroughly dry' - they're packed into an underground kiln similar to an 'anagama' kiln which is a very old sort of wood fired kiln that originated in the far east...basically a cave or hole in the ground with a door at one end and a flue at the other end.  A fire is built just inside the door and the heat from the fire is then pulled over and around the raw materials in the cave until they're fully 'cooked' or fired.  How much can be fired depends on how big the cave is.  Below is greenware awaiting firing - two different shapes of floor tile.


     Once the kiln is loaded a wood fire is started that gets hot enough to burn the wood so fast that it needs to be fed around the clock...and it burns for days.  Although there was no official temperature reading at the kiln I visited, the best guess from the resultant tiles and bricks, is about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
     The man who keeps the fire going at this operation is a senior and has, according to the rest of his family, built up some sort of tolerance to the heat over his decades of working with the fire and kiln.  I couldn't get very close to the ramp leading down to the kiln's front door...hard to imagine how this guy managed to feed the fire.  Much of the kiln is under roof and firewood is stacked nearby, including on the ramp leading down to the entrance.



19 March 2019

The making of clay building materials - part 1

     The process begins with locally dug clay to which ash is added from the base from a nearby volcano.  This volcano is right across the road (which happens to be the Pan Am Highway.

     In this case, the clay is dug on site and a truck delivers and dumps the ash near the pile of dried clay being readied for use.

     The clay and ash are mixed, water is added and, in this case, the mixture is shoveled into a mold where the formed tiles made with the mixture will dry for days before being put into the kiln.

     After the drying these and other styles of dried tiles and blocks will be loaded into the kiln and fired.


12 March 2019

Coconut trees, in the making

     Since the project at False Bluff began many years ago, I and others have planted literally hundreds of young palm trees, in many cases just sprouts.  At one time I did a rough count and came up with between 400 and 500 I myself had planted.         
     I've taken some criticism over time for planting the trees too close together and not in straight orderly lines.  Apparently, when you plant the trees close together they don't produce as many coconuts; and planting them in straight lines means you get the proper distance between the trees coming and going.  
     But I planted them for aesthetics:  random, close together, in clumps...any which way.  I prefer the way they look when I try to place them in a more nearly natural manner.
     And they're producing just fine!  


     We're in the process of clearing more land, removing scrub brush; and so the piles and piles and piles of coconuts that mound up are making more and more and more baby trees that we will plant in the ground - randomly.
     There are piles and and boxes and rows-among-the-pineapples of coconuts, all just waiting to go to  their "forever homes."


     If the random, aesthetically planted coconut trees produced more coconuts we'd be covered up.


06 March 2019

The heart of Chanel No. 5

     Three raw ingredients are at the heart of one of the world's most famous perfumes - flowers all.  One of the three is ylang-ylang.  We're really lucky to have a few ylang-ylang trees at False Bluff. And a few is all we have left. 
     Purchased in Catarina on the western side of Nicaragua and carefully brought back to the Caribbean side, we planted nearly a dozen before realizing the tree does not like salt.  
     Most died...but not all.  Catching the scent from the flowers when the tree is in bloom is a wonderful experience.  The bright yellow flowers, shown below on one of our trees, fit comfortably in the palm of my hand.


     Our survivors, about 400 yards downwind from the beach and behind a protective screen of coconut palms, bloom like crazy and are now producing seeds which we hope will germinate.  I'm told that where ylang-ylang still grows naturally seedlings sprout up around the base of the parent trees.
     Ylang-ylang used to grow prolifically in places along back water ways some distance from the salty air that blows off the Caribbean - particularly in Pearl Lagoon, a town north of us; but for some reason finding an ylang-ylang is a rare treat.

27 February 2019

Plastic and Our Safety

     

     At False Bluff, every day we experience the intrusion of plastic as trash.  It's always washing up on the beach and we're always cleaning it off.  But the plastic problem is more than its impact as trash.
     Below is a link to the summary of study from CIEL, the Center for International Environmental Law.  The link to the entire report is at the end of the summary.  The study confirms what I think many of us have wondered...that plastic, trash or not, presents a danger to all of us, all the time.
     The summary is an easy but unpleasant read, citing early on the need for what it calls a "lifecycle approach," stating that "At every stage of its lifecycle, plastic poses distinct risks to human health"...and then outlines how, when, and where.  A lot of the where is in our bodies.       
     For instance, consideration of the risks at the stage of "Direct Exposure" proceeds from "Extraction & Transport," through "Refining & Manufacture," to "Consumer Use," and finally "Waste Management."

ENJOY...
OR NOT

21 February 2019

Ho hum...

     ...another absolutely beautiful sunrise at False Bluff.


     Actually, sitting on the beach or on a porch when this happens is pretty mind-boggling.