31 October 2011

The house

     During the first phase of the False Bluff project we accomplished four things:  opened the creek so that travel to the property by way of the Caribbean would no longer be necessary;  cleared enough land to be able to move around;  dug a well to provide fresh water;  and built a place to live for those who would maintain and oversee the property in my absence.   
      The second phase would expand on or correct two of the previous things:  provide additional living space and dig a second well because of problems with the first.
     After living at False Bluff during part of the first phase, I changed what I had planned for the expanded housing that was to be built during this phase of the project.   My initial plan had been to add a long low addition to the original structure, with all the rooms facing the Caribbean to the east.   Instead only a breezeway and a windowless storage room attached to the original structure would face east.   The rest of the new construction would go west and up:  the result is L-shaped and has two stories. 
     The first part of this job was, of course, to put in a foundation and pour the slabs that would define the new spaces.  
Foundation for storage room and kitchen 

Slab for breezeway and stairs 

28 October 2011

Roof framework

     With what I hope is the last heavy load, we left Bluefields at 6:00 a.m. to carry out "sticks" for the roof and the last two sheets of Plycem.   Because of the weight the boat trip seemed endless instead of the usual quick travel of the eight miles.   Once again the pontoon boat has proven its worth.

18 October 2011

Report: Plycem and the crocodiles

     Fifty-four sheets of Plycem, delivered to a Bluefields' wharf from Managua.   Plycem is a cementitious product kind of like tile backer board; or imagine a 1/2" thick piece of Hardiplank the size of a sheet of Plywood.  It's used in lots of places, including here, as siding.   Once fixed to a house's framework it gets a smooth seamless coat of mortar and the house ends up looking like typical block construction.  At 1/2 " thick each sheet weighs about 100 pounds.   Because of the weight we knew that there would be more than one trip of the pontoon boat to False Bluff to deliver the stuff to the job site.
     The first load of Plycem, 20 sheets, left Bluefields late in the morning, heading up the creek toward the dock just about the time that much of the water in the creek was heading down toward Smokey Lane Lagoon: low tide.  The three men ferrying the load jumped into the creek to push the boat over a low spot and suddenly there were crocodiles all around their legs.
     I got this story second hand late in the day after the Plycem had been unloaded at False Bluff and everybody was home safe.   So I don't know how big the crocodiles were...just that they were bigger than the baby crocodile that recently shared a morning with me near the dock, and that they were big enough to get grown men moving really fast.  
     A year ago there was only swamp where the open creek now is, with just a trickle of water flowing through the vegetation.   I think the crocodiles are using the easy travel conditions provided by the open creek as much as the people are, so maybe they were heading down the waterway with the tide toward the lagoon; or up the waterway from the lagoon against the tide:  a chance encounter with other travelers.
     Anyhow, it turned out to be an adventure for the guys who were in the water and they escaped with a story that will spread and maybe grow.
     When they got the boat to the dock they recounted their 'near death' experience to a fourth man who was working on a project adjacent to the dock.  I understand this guy took off running...that they didn't see him again the whole time the Plycem was being unloaded or when they left False Bluff.   The best guess was that as fast as he was running he was probably in Kukra by night fall.

13 October 2011

A few more things about Bluefields

     In the 'Bluefields' post, refer to the letters on the Google Earth image for locations....
     Lawyer:   Silvia Fox.   If you need an attorney - for a land purchase, property dispute, residency issue, etc, she's unbeatable:  bi-lingual, smart, empathetic, and tenacious.

     There are a lot of barbershops in the central part of town but I've only found one centrally located 'salon and spa.'
     In a cash-driven society, sometimes changing your currency for the Nicaraguan cordoba can be a challenge but you can get cordobas on this corner from a number of people who might wave a fat handful of cash in your direction as you walk by.   I prefer to deal with the women because even before they begin to pull off cordoba in exchange for your currency they whip out a calculator to show you exactly what's happening.

     There are veterinarians in Bluefields, at least one of whom speaks English.   So far I haven't had to meet one but I have shopped at the veterinary pharmacy where you can get stuff like tick and flea control, vitamins, and wormers.
Between B and C
     I used to stuff my suitcase with clothes.   Now I stuff it mostly with more important things and buy clothes when I come to False Bluff, shopping in Bluefields which is full of thrift stores...some of them even advertise.  This particular store is between B and C.
     If you arrive in or leave from Bluefields by water, most likely you pass through the municipal wharf.  And if you have stuff shipped to Bluefields like pieces of a pontoon boat or a golf cart, the municipal wharf is where it all first touches the city streets.

     This corner is good for three-in-one: lumber, metal fabrication, and woodworking.   The lumber store is on the corner.  Right behind it you can have things like a metal gate or chair or table frame constructed.   Next door to the lumber store is the woodworking shop...french doors, kitchen cabinets, beds, adirondack chairs, and more.  
Madera (lumber)
Mr. Ellis, metal fabrication
Carlos at his woodworking shop

08 October 2011

Crocodile, cocodrilo

     A young visitor near the dock met me for breakfast tea recently.   Glad it wasn't his eight foot long relative seen basking in the sun in nearly the same place.

03 October 2011

The third kind of food

     Since there's nowhere to buy food at False Bluff, going to Bluefields is the best bet for shopping.   The lettered Google Earth image in the "Bluefields" post locates the following:
     Sidewalk markets are everywhere and the municipal market has quantities of produce and meat.   There is also a section of the municipal market where you can sit and have a meal.   Most food is inside, but just outside the far end of the building is a pier at which boats loaded with fresh food arrive frequently from early morning on:  shrimp, fish, oranges, bananas, pineapples, limes, lemons, etc.   The market also sells rice and beans and coconuts (and non-food items like pots and pans and bowls and buckets and charcoal).  
     On the corner just up from the market is the 'fruit lady.'   She offers one of the best deals around, usually made while you wait:  a bowl, with utensil provided, full of chunks of fruit, all wrapped in plastic if you're not going to dig in right away.  Her fruit bowls usually include watermelon, papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, and banana; but also other fruits in season.  Can't get any fresher. 

     On the second corner up from the market is the 'pink' restaurant.   If it has a name I don't know what it is.  You can eat in or buy at the take-out window. 
     Just around the corner from the 'pink' restaurant is one of a multitude of places that sell pastries;  but this place seems to be the sole source of a delicious, fat, heart-shaped, ginger-flavored cookie that's about the size of my hand.   (That you can also buy miscellaneous pieces of hardware in this little shop is incidental.)
     Across the street from the cookie shop is one of Bluefields' many grocery stores and the only one I've found that lets you do your own shopping.   At most stores you stand at a counter and ask a clerk to fetch each item on your list.   For those of us for whom it is still a challenge to ask in Spanish for 2 pounds of onions, 5 pounds of cheese, and pineapple, not kiwi, Tang, a store where you pluck your own goods off a shelf is a comfort.  (You can also buy Purina dog food there.)
     Though there are restaurants galore, one block stands out because there are so many, starting with the Tip-Top franchise on the corner.  Across the street and a bit up from Tip-Top are two Italian restaurants, one with pretty good pizza to go or eat in.