A day at the Bluefields market. FALSE BLUFF, eight miles by water from Bluefields, is tethered between the sea to the east and a lagoon to the west. A boat ride from the lagoon up our private canal brings visitors to a world of unimagineable beauty.
We have a few building lots left. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
For most of its long history Bluefields has been accessible by water or air - although early on people traveled by horseback and then in cars and trucks on not-so-good roads that didn't actually go all the way to Bluefields. Almost everything that entered the town...people or sofas or mustard or clothes or tractors or boat engines or taxis...came by boats or airplanes (most by water, obviously, because boats, particularly big boats, can certainly carry more than airplanes can). Then there was talk of a "real" road that would run from the western part of the country all the way to Bluefields. And for years there was only talk. And then for years there was work. The July 11 post here shows part of the space between the Pacific side and the Caribbean side before and after the road. Once the road was completed to the point that people and stuff could come and go, I heard lots about it and saw big trucks carrying all sorts of things into town. I once was in a taxi in Bluefields, stuck behind a pick-up truck, listening to my driver's complaints about all the people from the other side coming into Bluefields and messing up the traffic because they didn't know their way around town (he used a word other than 'messing' but I got the point). But I'd never been on the road. Recently, friends made sure I got to travel on part of it. We picked a time when its westernmost section was not blockaded, because we traveled during the summer of 2018 when blockades were a thing. And we traveled cautiously and didn't go more than an hour west - although we weren't really very worried about trouble and a couple of weeks later I traveled NIC-71 much farther away from town. The road wasn't then fully finished. But it's far more easily traveled than many of the 'old' ways into town, and it accommodates vehicles bringing all sorts of needful things to town - as opposed to carrying the things to Rama and then taking the things off whatever vehicle they were on that took them to Rama and then putting them on a boat for the rest of the trip to Bluefields. And sure enough, there it was just a couple of blocks past my carpenter's shop and right around the corner from BICU. I took these pictures from the front seat of the truck so the coverage is limited. But it's easy to see the road and how beautiful Nicaragua is.
Is this a raised bed or a container garden? The sugar cane growing in the ground behind the boat make it difficult to see the pepper and herb plants that are actually growing in the boat...where they're thriving.
The bird of paradise plants most of us are familiar with...from pictures and visits to local greenhouses or botanical gardens...are large and dramatic. But when I arrived in Bluefields I was introduced to others, among them a small plant which quickly became one of my favorites. Although this little one is represented in our nursery, it's not salt-tolerant and we'll never be able to use it close to the beach which is a shame. However, planted near our piers it gives a visual punch and is the first color other than green that a visitor sees on arrival. There are no nurseries in Bluefields. In fact the only nurseries I've found in all of Nicaragua are at Catarina, a town on the country's west side which in itself is one huge nursery because almost everybody there grows plants to sell. It's a stunning place to visit, sitting on a slope above a lake, with blooming plants everywhere. A big problem for me is that, despite its wide array, almost none of the plants is tolerant of salt-spray - I could find none for coastal planting. So when I tried to add this small bird of paradise to our growing collection of plants, I had to beg a few plants from someone in Bluefields who had it growing in a yard. Actually I ended up being able to buy five or six plants. And then after planting it at False Bluff I learned that it doesn't thrive in the Caribbean's salty breeze. But in a spot just away from that breeze it does thrive and in a few years we have this and a few other colonies that bloom year 'round.
We have mangoes at False Bluff and in Virginia. The ones at False Bluff are "real" mangoes. The ones in Virginia are known as "hillbilly mangoes." By either name they're a treat. The mangoes in the first picture, mangifera indica, are not yet ripe and are on a young tree right outside our kitchen at False Bluff. This is the first year this particular mango tree has borne fruit and it's got a pretty good crop - enough of a crop to warrant propping up some of the branches.
Below are asimina triloba, better known in the United States as Pawpaw but also known as the hillbilly mango. This tree is just one in a pawpaw patch near the James River and these pawpas, tho' green, are ripe. Some sources claim not only that the flavor of the pawpaw is tropical; but that the tree itself is a tropical tree that has somehow adapted to non-tropical climates: they extend all the way into Canada, a place not known for its tropical climate.
Whereas the pawpaw thrives and sets fruit as an understory tree, our mangoes at False Bluff thrive under the hot Caribbean sun. It would be interesting to see how a pawpaw does in full sun.