31 May 2016


      My thanks to a recent visitor for this panorama video of our house and FY (front yard).  False Bluff extends both north and south of the FY along the Caribbean although not all of what is part of our False Bluff has been cleared of scrub and planted. 
     The day of the video was windy, tossing around the laughter of children; and the sea was rough, churning up sand as the water rushed to the beach. 
     Our house, visible in the distance at both the start and end of the video, sits in the northern third of the property among some of the young coconut trees we've put in, many of which have begun to bear.  
     And the house is close to the canal that provides calm-water access for us and now for most of the other people who own land along this lovely stretch of beach...and, of course, for the increasing number of visitors and prospective owners.

     So far, the area nearest to the house and canal is the part of False Bluff that we use the most and is what we call the front yard - although, of course, the video shows much more than False Bluff and its front yard. 

     It's an incredibly beautiful place to be during any season, dry or green.

26 May 2016

Snack time

     We have two types of papaya trees at False Bluff. The type that produces huge papayas and the type that doesn't produce huge papayas.
     This tree is loaded with the huge papayas, easily larger than a football. The one at the bottom of this scrum has just started to turn from green to gold - a clear sign it's ready to pick.

     Peeled and sliced..... 

     this papaya, about the size of a watermelon, makes its way into bowls for snacks in the middle of a hot day, snacks that are hard to beat.

19 May 2016

Jacinta's tea: the product part

     I've had the tea that came from flowers that were grown at False Bluff and it is delicious!
     It's also a bit different in both color and flavor. Because the flowers have retained much more of their red color - I think as the result of being dried naturally in the sun - the tea reflects that drying method and is a lovely red. 

     Below shows the color I've become accustomed to with the store-bought hibiscus tea. I'm not at all discounting the flavor of the store-bought tea, though it doesn't taste as good as what's being grown at False Bluff.

     The tea grown at False Bluff has a subtle citrus flavor which is really nice and which I haven't tasted in any hibiscus tea I've had from other sources. I have no idea what causes that - and I sure can't get a picture of it - but it's a real bonus.

14 May 2016

Jacinta's tea: the harvesting and drying part

     A previous post introduced Jacinta, a critical part of my False Bluff family, and of the "nuevo negocio," or new business, that I have encouraged her to begin building with False Bluff as its base. 
     As critical as her part in this new endeavor is, so too is the part played by other members of her family, especially that of her husband Jose who is shown below with their daughter.

     And the other two who are critical to this part of bringing Jacinta's tea to the public.

     Jose and his son and a brother are processing a day's worth of flowers that they've just collected. Somewhere in the world there's a machine that does all of this work, but right now things are pretty labor intensive.

     After harvesting the flowers they are separated from the seed pods, one at a time. 

     You can see in the picture below how stiff the calyx is. As the drying progresses, the last remnant of green (such as the occasional leaf and what looks like a little crown partially surrounding the calyx below in Jose's hand) falls off. One of the additional chores involved in the process of bringing the raw ingredients of Jacinta's tea from bush to brew is picking out leaves and other greenery from the important, tea-making, red parts of the flowers that are drying.

     And the next crop, in the form of seeds, is carefully put aside.

     Then the flowers are put to dry in the very hot, very bright, Caribbean sun - a process that takes about five days. 

Day one of five

Day two of five


10 May 2016

Jacinta's tea: the growing part

     Although it seemed to me that the crop of hibiscus sabdariffa that was planted at False Bluff for 2015 was plenty, as I wrote in the previous post the 2015 crop is being harvested primarily for the seeds...and the next planting will be much, much larger. 
     Nonetheless, there has been some dried hibiscus flower tea packaged and sold - the "waste not, want not" result, of course, of harvesting the seeds. Currently in Bluefields the tea is used mostly during the Christmas season when the tea, usually served hot and infused with fresh ginger root, is an important part of local holiday tradition. But the stuff's so good, either hot or cold, that when it's available during non-Christmas times, it's snapped up pretty quick.
     The picture below shows part of the 2015 crop awaiting harvest. Turns out the right-of-way that the electric company cut is perfect for this stuff which is grown anew from seed after each harvest and never gets tall enough to threaten the wires that run overhead.

     An earlier post showed a hibiscus sabdariffa plant at False Bluff not yet in bloom - none of them was in bloom at the time I took that picture. So I pulled a picture off the internet for that post to show what the stuff looked like at harvest time.  Actually what gets harvested are the calyces, or sepals, of the flowers: they wrap around the seed pod and are tough and leathery feeling.

     The part that's harvested, the part that makes the delicious drink, the calyx or sepal, is what the flower - which is small and totally insignificant - becomes. (Yes, that small white thing in the center of the picture below is the actual flower of the hibiscus sabdariffa... ho hum.)

05 May 2016

Jacinta's tea: the retail part

     The label on a bag of hibiscus tea that I brought back from Managua a year ago has lots of information, first and foremost the title "Jamaica Tea." The tea's well known in Buefields as "Jamaica Tea" though the plant that produces the flowers that make the tea is certainly not grown only in Jamaica. In fact the tea's enjoyed all over the world and although it goes by many names, most people in this part of the world know it as "Jamaica Tea."  I have no idea how this great drink got stuck with that name.
     Hibiscus sabdariffa - the hibiscus variety that provides the calyx that makes the tea - grows like a weed at False Bluff and I've encouraged one of my staff to take full advantage of that fact and go into business.  And so the mom in my False Bluff family, Jacinta, with my full support, has begun growing, drying, packaging, and selling hibiscus sabdariffa.

     It's actually turned into a family endeavor, with dad Jose, and Jose and Jacinta's son, and a brother of Jose's doing the harvesting and drying (see a post to follow). 
     Jacinta, however, is in charge of the retail part of the process. 
     My friend Silvia Fox found two sizes of clear sealable bags for us in Managua and so far Jacinta has sold her tea to friends and family about as fast she's bagged it...certainly before the label goes on (I bought an unlabeled half-pound bag to give as a gift to a friend in Bluefields). I haven't even seen the label but I know it will say that what's in the bag was organically grown and sun-dried at False Bluff; and I know what it won't say - that the stuff inside the bag is Jamaica Tea. 
     I thought the number of plants at False Bluff was huge, but I've been told the 2015 crop, while providing some tea to dry and sell, was primarily to provide seeds for the next crop!