25 July 2013

Horses and hair sticks

     Three generations of the Julio Lopez family in Bluefields carve items mostly from rosewood and mahogany that they rescue.   In Virginia, when the utility company clears power lines, the trees that get taken down are usually oak, or pine.   Near Bluefields it might be mahogany, like the piece they took home to cure not too long ago.   
     Their creations include items that the Lopez family already knows will sell quickly as well as items that are custom made.  And their work has traveled far:  a group of Peace Corps volunteers recently collected pre-ordered plaques and there's a piece of the family's work on display in the Nicaragua's Embassy in Washington, D.C.  
     I have what was to the senior Lopez a piece of trash:  a mahogany rocking horse (minus the rockers obviously). The first horse of a custom order didn't meet his pretty exacting standards and so was discarded - literally dropped on the ground where it propped up one end of a low seat for years.   The horse now hangs on a wall at my house in Virginia.  

A recent visitor to False Bluff custom-ordered hair sticks made of rosewood....

 and then gave a pair to a member of our False Bluff family.

     My friend Sylvia Fox - who is more like a sister I never knew I had until I got to Nicaragua - liked the idea of the hair sticks enough to make her own from a pair of bamboo skewers she found in the False Bluff kitchen.  

18 July 2013

...and beach treasures

     Not everything that washes ashore is trash.   I have bowls of pumice (see July 23, 2011 post) scattered throughout the house.   

...some even with remains of sea creatures still attached.

11 July 2013

Beach trash

     For decades very few people visited False Bluff because the only way to get there was either to hire a boat and travel a costly distance up the Caribbean coast...or to slog a half-mile through a swamp, very uncomfortable in the dry season and hell during the wet.   
     So there's not been much effort to clean up the trash that washes ashore.   It's easy to see it's been coming in for a long time because some old stuff has been buried deep, uncovered as the sand comes and goes.

     I've tried to figure out where the trash comes from.   The closest land to the east where humans live and produce trash are the two Corn Islands, Big and Little.   They're only forty miles off shore but a lot of what has washed ashore at False Bluff isn't the sort of stuff that would have come from either place.   I think most of it's the residue of decades of cruise ships jettisoning their trash into the Caribbean.  
     As recently as 2009 many of the islands and countries in and along the Caribbean sea had not adopted the United Nations dumping ban that requires cruise ships to treat ship-generated garbage on land.   The Marine Pollution Control Act bans cruise ships from dumping plastics anywhere but they are permitted to dump garbage into the sea if it's been ground into smaller pieces (whatever 'smaller pieces' are).  

     I've begun to wonder over the last few years if maybe publicity about their dumping has caused some cruise ship lines to re-think their policies and take some ameliorating action.  (They make much of their money off the Caribbean, so to me it's logical that they'd invest in taking care of it.)  I think this because much of what we clean up are 'vintage' products, often quite easy to determine by labels; and because less and less 'new' stuff washes shore.   
     Maybe that last is wishful thinking on my part, that part about less stuff washing ashore because of a cruise ship line's efforts.   And that in reality we've cleaned up trash that took decades to collect and so we're seeing less now simply because we're making constant efforts to clean up, not waiting decades between clean-ups.
picture by Andre Shank

     Maybe the trash is still coming in on each tide the way it always has, and the difference is that now someone's taking the time to pick it up before it collects.  Who knows...but we'll just keep cleaning the beach.


04 July 2013

Landscaping with swamp lilies

      The palapa near the end of the main roadway sits right at the edge of the beach.   Before the house was enlarged to include a kitchen, the palapa was the kitchen, with plastic sides and a primitive stove (see April 24, 2012 post). 

     Sea turtles nest in the sand just to the right of the palapa so after we removed the larger of the two buildings that were there, we thoroughly cleaned the area.   We also planted some coconut trees and swamp lilies nearby but we did nothing that will get in the way of the turtles.  Neither the small trees nor the swamp lilies give much of a show right now, but in only a couple of years the lilies at least will look as though they've been there a long time.