28 April 2017


     The easiest way to False Bluff is by way of our half-mile, hand-dug canal that bisects our property. The entrance to the canal is from Smokey Lane Lagoon; and the canal - providing an incredible short trip through the jungle where orchids bloom and monkeys travel overhead - obviates the need to travel by the often unfriendly and dangerous Caribbean.
     In the years since the canal was dug, roots from many of the trees that we left along its banks have grown to protect those banks. Nature...pretty amazing!

24 April 2017

A visit to Big Corn

     I haven't made a trip to Big Corn Island in years.

     Why would I when I've got False Bluff? 
     But recently the plane I was in touched down on the island...and I didn't see much in the way of change.
     Actually I didn't see much of anything since I never got off the plane.

20 April 2017

Taking care of business....

     any time, anywhere...a pen in one hand, a cell phone in the other.

     Cell phones have made work possible on land, on sea, and in the air.

15 April 2017

Coconut palms, again

     One thing I started early on with each of the several hundred coconut trees we've planted is pruning. 
     When a young tree has grown its real coconut fronds (see an earlier posting here for the difference) and either the lower fronds begin to 'wilt' or turn brown or I can't walk under them or they're blocking my view in one direction or another...or otherwise just don't look good...I whack those fronds off with a machete - which is what I call pruning coconut trees at False Bluff.
     The most obvious result has been that the trees we've planted have grown upwards really fast. A coconut tree is the ultimate single leader tree and so it has nowhere to go but up, and up they've gone. There are three older, pre-existing trees in the picture below that are much taller than some of our most recently planted baby trees because those tall trees were already at False Bluff when I started this project. (A person in a red shirt close to the sea in the below picture puts distances in perspective.)
     But another seeming benefit of the pruning that other people have begun to notice is the girth of the trunk of the trees we've planted versus the girth of the trunks of those trees that predate our frequent use of a machete.

     Two recent visitors commented on the size difference, pointing out something I hadn't even noticed. So the trees are not only growing taller faster but they're growing bigger around as well. 
     Of course I'm happy the new trees have that girth size benefit because once a coconut tree starts producing coconuts, it doesn't stop: there's no coconut 'season.'      
     A tree can have flowers and two or more different sized clumps of maturing coconuts going all at the same time - year round - so I'm glad of any benefit for a tree that works so hard.
     Below are trees we have planted in the last several years and the difference in the size of the trunk is impossible to miss: the trunk of this recently pruned tree is pretty typical of the trunk size we're seeing on all of the new trees. 

12 April 2017

Yes, but...

     We now have electricity at False Bluff, but past experience with water pumps and having lived from time to time with the frequent electric outages in nearby Bluefields - to say nothing of the outages we expect along the brand new coastal lines for the next few years - I made a trip to a couple of Managua's many solar equipment stores to scope out their water pumping systems.
     Solar powered watering systems have long been a staple in the United States and the reliability of such systems speaks for itself.
     The best selection and service was from Tecnosol from whom I was emailed a 10-page proposal with specifications and prices. Hands-down the place of choice.

     Shown below are a couple of the pumps that Tecnosol offers.

08 April 2017

Milk and cookies

     In much of Nicaragua, but particularly in the autonomous regions that are home to False Bluff and Bluefields, many things are packaged in plastic pouches. Part of the reason for this is because a huge quantity of stuff comes here via air or sea; and more pouches fit into cartons with less breakage. And part of the reason is that when you're shopping you can select the size of pouch you want, from very small to not as small...and when you don't have a refrigerator that's pretty important (and lots of people here don't have refrigerators).
     Until recently there was no reliable cross-country road that connected the country's west with its east, and a lot of non-natives say that given the current condition of the road it might as well be nonexistent. But folks from Bluefields at least are happy with with the new road because it cuts down on the cost and time to get to Managua and because the goods that are traveling into Bluefields are cheaper. But I doubt that even the new road will mean that mayonnaise and mustard will begin arriving in the glass and/or plastic jars we in the U.S. are used to.
     Nor will milk begin showing up that way in the stores although cookies have long been wrapped in plastic or paper: for instance, a package of Oreos on a shelf in Bluefields is almost indistinguishable from a package of Oreos on a shelf in, say, Boston...except for the language, all of which except "Oreos" is Spanish
     On a recent boat trip to False Bluff (I think we were almost in Smokey Lane Lagoon by the time I got this picture), at least one member of the crew heading out there to work on a house that's being built at Las Tortugas for some U.S. neighbors, enjoyed a snack of milk and cookies.
     Washing a cookie down with a sip of milk...

05 April 2017

Toad lemon??

     I'm told by people who live in the area that the fruit of this tree, currently bearing at my place, is called a 'toad lemon' because of its rough skin - but when I Google 'toad lemon' or 'toad lime' I don't come up with anything remotely like what I'm holding in my hand near the tree it came from (but lately Google's been a bad source about a lot of stuff).
     So, taking the word of the locals who surely know more than Google about what's blooming and bearing fruit at False Bluff...I introduce you to the very first 'toad lemon' harvested from a tree in my back yard.
      Almost the size of a tennis ball, the lemon has not only a rough skin but a thick skin. 

     But when this thing was cut and squeezed it easily produced 2 ounces of juice that made a wonderful lemonade...

02 April 2017

Hand carved

     I've done several small stories on this site about the incredible work that comes out of Mr. Julio's studio in Bluefields. I recently met with his son there. The idea for this cane's design was a joint effort but the superlative work was all his.
     Carved from part of a rosewood tree that came down during Hurricane Joan/Joanne in 1988, this piece is a one of a kind treasure.
     In its entirety showing all three fish...

     ...and some detail.

01 April 2017

Morning in Bluefields - no fooling

     There's a new hardware store in Loma Fresca, a neighborhood in Bluefields.
     This is fairly typical early morning traffic on the way to that big green-roofed building on the left - Ferreteria Bendana, a harware store that serves sheetrock, wheelbarrows, cheesecake, nails, Fanta in multiple colors, galvanized nails, etc....

     One of the British Virgin Islands, not too many years ago, frequently had bovines in the road. They grazed or napped pretty much wherever they felt like it but the influx of tourists eventually put an end to that. 
     Bluefields isn't quite at that point yet.