29 December 2013

Stormy winds

     We had lots of rain and wind at False Bluff during the 2013 rainy season.  Frequent storms blew in quickly and just as quickly blew out again.

     And, inevitably, we lost some things to the winds.  Some of our old coconut trees were the first things to go...

23 December 2013

Richmond? False Bluff?

     I split my time between projects in both of these locations.  One in Virginia, USA; one in RAAS, Nicaragua. There's a wonderful difference between the two that makes for a pretty eventful life.      
     Other Richmonders have visited me, their trips separated by a couple of years.  One couple, in my east-end-of-Richmond neighborhood, has bought property on Bluefields Bay and will move to Bluefields (the small city eight miles by water from False Bluff) full time within the next twelve months to finish building.
     The other couple's maneuvering to do the same.
     So far visitors to my part of Nicaragua have become that attached that quickly and it's easy to understand why.  It goes back in part to that old real estate adage:  location, location, location!

20 December 2013

Passion fruit

     Growing somewhere most everywhere in the world, one of these vines produces a fruit for nearly every taste.  Each of the many varieties has a flower that is similar in general shape but differs in color and size, as do the fruits of the vines.  Next time you check the ingredients of a fruit drink and see 'passion fruit' you might wonder just which passion fruit's juice was added.
     At False Bluff we have two varieties. The 'granadilla' (not the 'grenadilla' which is a small tree known for its dark wood) is shown here as flower and not-yet-ripe fruit. The fruit is bright yellow when it's ripe and about the size of a tennis ball:

     And the one known along the Caribbean as 'calala' with a purplish flower and a fruit that's much larger than the granadilla, oblong rather than round, and eaten while it's still a lovely green color, seeds and all:

17 December 2013

How to prepare a coconut for drinking

     Palm trees are a major feature at False Bluff so they're in several posts (and will be in more to come).   
     Here a couple of visitors on the beach enjoy coconuts right off the tree.

     And in this short video Julio Castillo demonstrates just how to prep a coconut for instant consumption.  (More about Julio on False Bluff's Facebook page.) 

11 December 2013

False Bluff on the Caribbean

     When La Costena flies to Big Corn Island, a long lovely stretch of the Caribbean coast is left below and behind.  Here's a picture taken from a flight to the island that shows Bluefields, El Bluff, Smokey Lane Lagoon, miles of white sandy beach...and False Bluff.

06 December 2013

Don't forget Facebook...

     Two posts today.  We invite friends to the False Bluff Facebook page where there's similar information about Bluefields, RAAS (Region Autonoma del Atlantico Sur), and the surrounding area.

05 December 2013

Across Nicaragua

     Lots of people go to Nicaragua, and lots of those people fly on to Big Corn Island.  Few of those people end up in Bluefields - a shame for them and a shame for Bluefields.  
     La Costena Airline, a member of the Taca Group, is based out of Managua's Sandino airport and flies to ten domestic destinations.   Nicaragua's about the size of the state of New York and to fly from Managua to Bluefields takes less than an hour.
     La Costena's planes cruise at an altitude far less than 37,000 feet, so you get a good view of the countryside as you cross over it.

      Bluefields, located in RAAS, the southern autonomous region, is Nicaragua's largest port city, and is on a bay within sight of the Caribbean. You can see the bay in the left of the photo below.

        The runway stops just short of the bay...

     Easy to catch a taxi at the airport for the short ride to town where there are a lot of hotels.  I know only the Caribbean Dream Hotel in the heart of 'downtown' Bluefields:  clean, comfortable, with a restaurant on site, and close to most everything.

28 November 2013

We have 'Saccharum officinarum'

     ...better known as sugarcane.  It grows in small stands all over False Bluff.  It's great as a snack and we also have a small press for extracting the juice.
     As a snack, a piece of the cane is cut, peeled, and cut again into small bite-sized chunks that are chewed (the fibrous remains end up in the garbage).  I'd never had fresh sugarcane before growing and harvesting it at False Bluff and so was unprepared for what a treat it is:  nothing like pure sugar at the end of a hot day.
     We have a simple but effective press to extract the juice which is mostly used for cooking.  A simple treat that doesn't involve any cooking, other than what nature does, is made from grated coconut that's mixed with the juice and then dried in the sun.  Preserving this 'candy' is never an issue. The press is a two person operation.

  One holds the cut 'cane under the pressing 'lever'...

...while a second person operates the lever.  Works really well.

     And, of course, there's Nicaragua's rum, Flor de Cana, made from sugarcane.  Flor de Cana wins awards all over the world.

22 November 2013

Ready for company

     A room is ready for visitors...a bed, a book and the sound of the sea.

07 November 2013


     This is the song of frogs, not ducks.  One night a few years ago I taped a chorus of singing ranas.          
     Brown and about three inches long, they aren't as interesting to look at as they are to listen to.  And they only sing at night which is why you won't see anything but darkness - and what may be a lightening bug. 
    Close your eyes and enjoy some Caribbean music...

01 November 2013

More beach treasures

     These tiny shells are so fragile many of them break just washing ashore; but I've tucked away a small handful in a little box.


     And almost as fragile is a different sort of shell I have in a tiny bowl.

24 October 2013

From lagoon to sea

     On the pontoon boat getting ready to enter the creek from Smokey Lane Lagoon to make the half mile trip through the mangrove swamp to False Bluff on the Caribbean.

18 October 2013

Phone central

     There's a pathway worn from the house to the beach which you can see in some earlier posts' pictures.   There are benches at the end of the path and it's a nice place to relax at the end of the day when the sun's going down behind you: cool and breezy and you can see for miles.

     And where the benches are is just about the only place anywhere along this section of coast where cell phones work. The False Bluff family has cell phone reception in the house; but visitors, usually from the north, will come down to False Bluff partly for the company and partly so they can call out....to wherever.

13 October 2013

An any-time snack

     So, we've got all those pineapple plants producing fruit (and more plants being put in the ground), what to do with all that pineapple?  Staff pick them, guests pick them...they all end up in a plate or a bowl.

04 October 2013


     We have lots of pineapple plants...about four hundred so far.   And as a plant produces fruit it also produces more plants so we'll be adding to what we've already got.  

The fruit, the actual pineapple, starts in the heart of the plant

and grows slowly over several weeks

but it's worth the wait.

There is a new, young plant visible just to the right of the fruit.

27 September 2013


     False Bluff now has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/False-Bluff/142899219245180 and you can 'like' this blog on your own Facebook page. 
     We've created a Facebook page to cover things that might not be happening at False Bluff but that are relevant to False Bluff and the part of Nicaragua where it lives...resources or other information that might be of interest to people curious about this part of the world.  
     For instance, if you land in Bluefields and want to visit False Bluff, how do you get here?  Can we recommend a good and reliable boat captain?  Yes, we can and we will...on our Facebook page.
     And for those of you who might have visited Bluefields and been concerned about the plight of street dogs, in the (near, I hope) future we hope to be able to post on Facebook the creation of a group to take positive action on behalf of these animals.
     So check out the page from time to time and see what's going on or who's being featured.

22 September 2013

Covenants and Restrictions and Electricity

     In preparation for offering some house lots for sale at False Bluff,  I'd spent some time writing covenants and restrictions...including a portion dealing with electricity for the houses that would call for the installation of solar power as primary power source, with generators to be used only during construction or as emergency back up. 
     And then one day during a walk on the beach I met a man who asked permission to bring his boat up our creek.
     Our language difference made clear communication awkward, so when we got back to the house I phoned a friend in Bluefields who helped the two of us get at just what he was asking for.   A crew chief from Enel, Nicaragua's electric company, he wanted to be able to bring his crew up our creek because the creek presented such an easy way to get the crew to their current work area.   
     Under his authority twenty guys showed up the next day to continue chopping the right-of-way they had begun far to the north of us (they're not all shown below).   These guys were followed a week later by the chain-saw crew, cutting trees that were too big for machetes.  

     The machete crew does the first job in Enel's project to run power from Kukra Hill north of False Bluff south along the coast to El Bluff and then across the bay to Bluefields.  Actually the power lines will run all the way across Nicaragua from Managua to Kukra and then down our section of the Caribbean coast.  The poles are being delivered by way of the sea and have already been installed from Kukra about half-way down to False Bluff.
     My reaction to this life-altering event is the same as that of everyone else who's heard it:  simple disbelief.   Electricity along any of the RAAS coast was not on anybody's radar, but it's happening.


20 September 2013

Smokey Lane Lagoon - RAAS, Nicaragua

     I've posted lots of pictures showing the Caribbean....beautiful and hard to miss when you're at False Bluff.   
     But somehow Smokey Lane Lagoon seems to have been lost in the shuffle.  We're always in a boat when we get to the lagoon and maybe it's just worry about what a bad combination water and cameras can be that keeps the camera packed away.  
     The creek that we opened early in this project connects the lagoon to the docks at False Bluff.  Being on a boat in the creek is like floating through a tunnel that wanders through a mangrove jungle all the way.  
     Here we're about to break into the bright sunlight on the lagoon leaving False Bluff for a run to Bluefields, eight miles away.

     And just outside the mouth of the creek there's a good view across Smokey Lane to Kukra Hill.

13 September 2013

A night on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast

     When there's literally nothing else around for miles, full moon nights are beautiful.

Looking east...
 and looking west.

06 September 2013

Coconut tree's incredible root system

     I've planted hundreds of coconut trees primarily for their looks and their impact on the environment.  My employees and most of the visitors from Bluefields agree the trees are nice to look at but they're mostly interested in the food-producing capabilities of the trees and have advised me that I've planted so many the trees won't produce very well.
     An excellent reason for planting coconut trees is their extensive root system and what that root system does to stabilize the environment.   The trees are lost sometimes:  a poor start that didn't allow the root system to get a good grasp at the tree's beginning;  years of people hacking at them with machetes; encroaching seas that wipe out what the roots hold onto.  
     Here's one that got a bad start and then was chopped at for years.  Planted just to the right of the trunk are two small plugs of a grass that may help this (see May 16, 2013 post about the grass).

     But none of them give up easily.   

Photo by Andre Shank