26 October 2017

Noisy lil' bastards...

     Green parrots flock in the hundreds to False Bluff at the start of the rainy season.  It was my unsuccessful experience trying to capture even half-way decent still shots or videos of these noisy lil' bastards that finally prompted me to buy a real camera to replace the point and shoot I'd been using for years....and then, of course, not a parrot showed up for a photo op. 
     But next time they and I are hanging out at the same time I should get some better stuff.
     Again, they only show up in the hundres during the rainy season but all of what's below was shot from either inside or very near the house - a raucous caucus - demos or republicans I couldn't tell.  But they did seem to argue a lot so maybe it was both.

     Because these parrots live in the rain forest between the house and Smokey Lane Lagoon even when it's not the rainy season we can occasionally hear them if they're debating some particularly contentious piece of legislation.

22 October 2017

Plastic in paradise....

     Recently published in the Daily Mail was an appalling story, with equally appalling pictures, of trash, much (if not most) of it plastic.  The story states that much of what was shown off the coast of Honduras, near and around the tourist spot of Roatan Island, had been washed into the Caribbean by waters flowing from land to sea during the rainy season.  
     Plastic in the Caribbean, however - hell, plastic in all of the earth's oceans - is a growing and long lasting problem weather event or not:     http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5002084/Oceans-choked-plastic-bottles-bags-rubbish.html

     Several posts on the False Bluff site show what washes up on our beach here.  We clean the stuff up - and the next tide brings more. But I have never seen anything like what's shown around Roatan in the Daily Mail story...not even remotely like it.  Nor has anyone else at False Bluff.
   The small video here shows how calm the sea was one day in mid-September when some folks from False Bluff went fishing; and, as usual where we are, there was no floating trash to be seen. Obviously some trash is there or we wouldn't continuously be cleaning it off the beach.  
     But the Caribbean along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast has never endured anything like what's happening off the coast of Honduras and I sure hope it never does.

     (The Caribbean as shown here is not always so calm and when it acts up it can be a killer.)  

16 October 2017

Probably not "Giant Sister" ...

     After the clearing was done, coconut trees and the native zoysia grass were my first planting priorities.  The trees would outline the walkways - would actually line both sides of the walkways - with a double row of trees on the side away from the sea, the west side.  
     Before the trees were planted there were no walkways - so even before planting was begun I had to map out the overall and future design, the layout, for False Bluff.  I mean, what's the sense in planting anything if you don't know where it's supposed to go, or what part of the whole it's supposed to be, or even what the whole is?
     So for days I sat near my tent with pen and paper; but mostly I wandered - back and forth, back and forth - as clearing and burning went on around me.  I later learned that the people working with me thought I had endured some sort of mental glitch.  They didn't get actually worried until I picked up a big stick.
     I used the stick to measure the distance between future-planted trees and the width of the walkways themselves. We're talking hi-tech here.  And then, when I traded the stick for a shovel and began digging holes, everyone seemed to finally understand what was going on.  
     My lack of Spanish, particularly nearly a decade ago, has been a problem.  Try taking an English/Spanish dictionary into a hardware store in Bluefields and asking for 1,000 one and a half inch coarse sheet rock screws...or using that dictionary to explain a vision of how a design today will impact what a place will look like ten or fifteen years down the road - or even what the vision is - where tree-lined walkways and buildings will be.  I've heard that many people who begin a project like False Bluff have a staff...of designers or architects or planners; but I'm not sure that's true.

     After the trees and the grass had been planted and become somewhat established, along the west side of all our walkways and just in front of the double row of coconut trees I planted what we fondly call "swamp lily," a spider lily that doesn't need a swamp to thrive.  
     What I'd like to think we have at False Bluff is a variety of Hymenocallis known as 'Tropical Giant Sister' but what we do have is most likely just kinfolk known as "beach spider lily," the littoralis.  At various nurseries in the United States you can buy one of these plants for anywhere from $5.00 to $19.00.  
     I've pulled this picture off the internet. I've got lots...of the plant and of its bloom...but today I'm just not going to hunt one of them down.  Besides, our clumps are young and not this showy yet.

     Our planting stock of this spider comes right from the property where there are clumps in odd places, some right at the edge of the beach. I have no idea how the hell they got to False Bluff because until this project began nobody had purposefully planted anything out there in decades; and where the existing clumps are indicate no sense of purpose anyhow.  
     I do know that the plant is a hardy survivor and whereas I dig a hole for each one I plant, if you were to just throw one of the bulbs on the ground during friendly weather it will take hold where it lands - I've seen beach wash-ups that have done just that.
     The plant forms a nice clump pretty quickly and has the spidery, somewhat ethereal, bloom...and though the bloom scent is very faint it's also very sweet.
     The picture below is from 2015 just a day or two after the lilies were planted...maybe the same day from the looks of the disturbed earth around them.  I planted one lily bulb - or tried to plant one - every 18" along the walkways...and there are a lot of 18" spacings along our walkways.

     This was taken this year and shows pretty much the same place.  Nature at work, with a little guidance.  It's all getting just a bit better every day.


11 October 2017

Coconut trees and hammocks and the passage of time

     Shortly after we bought our first piece of property at False Bluff,  my sons and I hung hammocks among a triangle of coconut trees close to the shore.  
     We camped close to the shore because the incredibly dense undergrowth that was everywhere then made moving away from the shore difficult...undergrowth that grew so thick it completely blocked the breeze from the sea.  Pushing into it felt like stepping into an oven.  
     There was no pushing through it because the undergrowth seemed to go forever. I found out not too much later that it does go forever, or at least to the edges of Smokey Lane Lagoon to the west...and gets worse and thicker on its way there.

      And, of course, we hung the hammocks close to the shore because being close to the shore was why we were there in the first place.    
     Then, as many pictures on this site show, the undergrowth was cleared away and hundreds of coconut trees and plugs of a carpet-forming grass were planted in its place and left to nature...no fertilizer, no irrigation, just the passage of time.  
     I stood on the site of that first camping trip to take the picture below - testament to the dramatic changes to the scenery.

     On a recent trip I was a bit awed, hanging in that same hammock (a Hennessy, a brand of hammock often referred to as "the coolest tent in the world") between and below other coconut trees - coconut trees that I had planted after the brush was cleared away.  
     And now there's no shortage of trees at False Bluff from which to hang a hammock. I took a book into the hammock with me because I usually take a book wherever I go.  But I confess I spent a considerable amount of time not reading but marveling at what time and adequate amounts of rain had given me in exchange for a few thrusts of a shovel nearly a decade ago.

06 October 2017

El Nido

     The "foundation" for The Nest (El Nido) was constructed nearly two years ago.  Large deep holes were dug into which concrete foundation platforms were poured.  On these platforms square concrete columns came up about 4'; and into each concrete column a wooden beam was installed.

     And there it all sat like quills on a porcupine until just a few weeks ago...

      The small building is a single room with a front porch, both 8' above ground - plus a considerable amount of outdoor space at ground level for hammocks and hanging chairs.  The Nest is not, and never was, intended to provide living space although I'm sure I'll "live" in it until the rental units are up.  
     (The rental units will also sit 8' above ground and have open living/bedroom combos, deep front porches across their fronts, kitchens, and bathrooms; and will be available by the week...but more about that later.)
     Instead, The Nest will be for future visitors as a library or game room.  The books that now live on shelves in separate bedrooms in the existing house will all be pulled together into one space with additions...lots of additions; and a selection of games like dominoes or monopoly.  
     People can select a book to read in their own spaces or read in or below El Nido.

05 October 2017

A Decade - Part 3

After looking at properties on the west coast, Big Corn, and in Pearl Lagoon we chose False Bluff for the family farm.  After the purchase had been completed we camped out on the farm to get a feel for the land and plan the future.  These pictures are from our family camping trip from almost a decade ago.

Since our False Bluff, Nicaragua canal had not been dug at this time we had to schedule a panga boat to pick us up and drop us off by way of the Caribbean instead of the quiet waters through the lagoons in the back.  The reason we have clothes hanging up drying while we were still setting up camp is because the boat flipped while riding a wave in to unload.

10 year old video so please forgive the quality.

02 October 2017

False Bluff, the beach

     ...enjoyed by Dominic.  Actually enjoyed by everyone who visits but only Dominic got his picture taken this day!