31 March 2023

Sea turtles or seed turtles


An artist on Big Corn Island carves these tiny turtles from seeds - about which I know nothing.  Each turtle, a small replica of a sea turtle, has a bail by which it can be attached to a necklace or whatever else you might want to attach it to.  

I purchased enough of these tiny turtles - and one of the seeds that gives them birth - to line a small bowl-like thing which, in turn, stands on a table in my Virginia home.

Not that it matters at all but I have never figured whether the artist releases one turtle or two sea turtles from each seed:

27 March 2023

Norchad Omier (Rojas), Bluefields Nicaragua

There are a lot of basketball fans enjoying what this Miami forward is doing.

Among his biggest supporters are his family and friends in Bluefields where he was born.

22 March 2023

Part I: False Bluff...where is it

We have posted this picture before and False Bluff is still in the same place.  We're just a little bit farther from Bluefields than we are from the port of El Bluff, which is the main and very public gateway between Bluefields Bay and the Caribbean for a huge amount of traffic.  

But we are fortunate enough to get to our place by way of a canal that we had hand-dug.  Our canal gets us there from Smokey Lane Lagoon instead of from the Caribbean.  Believe me, the small additional distance is well worth it.  

The Caribbean is known for being calm but in a panga or something even smaller, the sea can kick up dangerous waves really fast.  Of my trips to False Bluff by way of the Caribbean, I've been in boats several times that capsized...usually as we turned and headed to the beach.  

Once is more than enough.  

A neighbor to our north...about an hour by walking...decided to boat-haul materials to her property rather than land at False Bluff and walk the stuff up the beach.  The boat she and her workers was in capsized.  All the materials and the outboard motor were lost.  Every person on the boat made it to shore safely but she later told me it was touch and go for her. 

People pull their boats up to the beach because along our almost deserted section of coast, roughly the 26 miles from El Bluff north to Pearl Lagoon, there's no development of any kind - much less a place suitable for tying up a boat and so the boats are beached.  

In order to avoid all future trips to False Bluff by way of the Caribbean just about the first thing we did was to have our canal dug from the lagoon to a place close...but not too close...to the beach.  We didn't want an angry Caribbean to later dig its own canal...which would cause unbelieavable damage.  

So we leave Bluefields, segue from the bay to the labrynth of back waters, into Smokey Lane Lagoon, and then into our canal.  It goes from a narrow notch in the lagoon east toward the beach and we traverse it in quiet except when the monkeys pass overhead.

Easy peasy - though always better when the tide is high.  Bluefields Bay, like the Chesapeake Bay, is tidal.

Just posted today to a Bluefields news site about a life lost when a panga capsizes:


18 March 2023

Man's best friend...and helper

There doesn't seem to be any official season for hunting in and around Bluefields and False Bluff; and so a fair number of people who live in the area, mostly men, hunt because it puts food on the table during even more harsh than usual financial times.  

All over the world people are hurting financially...even people who live in a really poor country.  There's no escaping that.  And there are a lot of people in the local communities that have no refrigeration and so they hunt often.

Many hunters have found that dogs are often helpful in the hunt.  There aren't packs of dogs as is sometimes familiar in the United States because people here can't afford a pack of dogs...and besides... how do you fit a pack of dogs in a small boat?

13 March 2023

Pangas...the same in some ways and very different in others

Almost all of the eastern side of Bluefields is on the water and so there are boats tied up in lots of places.  And most of the boats in Bluefields are pangas.

As noted in a recent post, all pangas share certain characteristics.  They have to - to be a panga.  But what an owner might do to a panga makes each one different.  Some pangas are given just as much maintenance as needed to keep it seaworthy.  

But the owner of the middle of these three side-by-side pangas used a lot of skill to make the boat a show piece.

As you can see in these three pangas, the backs of the bench seats lift in and out as needed.  The place where the backs fit are molded into the sides of the panga during its construction.

I've ridden in many a panga where the backs of the bench seats lifted out and went somewhere else forever.

08 March 2023


I've written about this zoysia grass at False Bluff before and I'm pretty sure I'll write about it again - because the stuff continues to amaze me.  

However, I admit I have never cared enough about what variety of zoysia grass we have out there so I can't identify this one.  I've only cared about getting the grass started and about having it spread as far and as fast as possible.  

This particular zoysia grows along many beautiful beaches on Big Corn Island, one of the two popular Nicaraguan islands in the Caribbean about 40 miles directly east of False Bluff; but there was none at False Bluff until I snatched - and then planted - some off a sidewalk in Bluefields.

I divvied up the stuff I pulled off the sidewalk into as many starts as I could...tiny things they were from the small amount I 'rescued.'  I wanted the grass for lots of reasons, primarily its beauty that I had fallen in love with on Big Island. And it is wonderful to walk on...kind of like a very thick rug except where it pillows at the base of a tree. 

Other reasons I wanted it include that covering the ground with it would reduce work because the grass: 

  • forces out weeds once it's established - we could stop the hard and time consuming work of chopping down weeds with machetes;
  • thrives in the really harsh and salty environment along the caribbean; and 
  • has an affinity for coconut palms - and we were planting hundreds of those. 

Other benefits...benefits that I wasn't aware of when I started propogating it out there...are:

  • when the dry season arrives the stuff just gets greener when most everything gets brown; and 
  • snakes and biting ants hate it...probably because it forms such a tightly woven mat that neither of these pests can travel thru it - and both avoid traveling over it.  

We planted the starts which began to spread faster than I thought they would.  Once we had a good sized patch of grass etablished we began to cut out 4" x 4" plugs which we then planted at the leeward base of as many coconut trees as we had plugs for.  Visible here are the newly rooted plugs moving away from their 'safe spaces' at the bases of coconut trees.

A final thing that I enjoy about this zoysia is the manner in which it spreads, shown above and below.  The small plugs don't look like much when they're first planted.  In fact they fade a bit due to transplant shock; but to the best of my knowledge we've never lost one.  Then all of a sudden the plug turns green and begins its star-like creeping spread, going from the base of one tree to meld with the grass spreading from the base of another tree until all the ground is covered.

After what seems no time at all, the ground of the pathways we outlined with coconut trees is covered with emerald green grass.

03 March 2023

Panga the boat

Even the word has multiple meanings.  It is a weapon or a fish or a boat which is typically powered by an outboard motor.  A panga is easily distinguishable from a "skiff" which is a flat bottomed boat that often has a center console, neither of which a panga has.  

From what I read, the panga (regardless of its origin) was developed as a small fishing boat.  In my experience, a lot of pangas on Nicaragua's Caribbean side are used as taxis...thus a lot of pangas are neither small nor used for fishing.  This is a poor photo of a panga taxi in Bluefields Bay, probably prepped for a ride to Kukra or Pearl Lagoon.

A bit of history:

There is some confusion about the history of where the panga came from although the date of development is pretty much the same regardless of the claim...something that may contribute to the confusion.  

Two California teachers ended up in La Paz, Mexico and in a circuitous way ended up building pangas starting in the late 1960s.  This from the interesting link below:

"The new creation was a molded, modified-vee hull boat, with large, graceful spray rails and small strakes, eliminating the boxy appearance of its plywood predecessors. The new, sleeker Esquibot panga was considered Mexico’s biggest innovation in boat building at the time!"


During pretty much the same time frame, Yamaha was developing a similar boat in Japan: https://www.pangasports.com/post/the-history-of-the-panga-boat

Thus lasting confusion.

Regardless of who did what and where, the panga is very adaptable for heavy seas - which the Caribbean often is; it handles really well in most seas, heavy or otherwise; it pulls up on the beach; and it is easily reparable.  

Somehow the panga made its way from the west to the east, from the Pacific - via Japan or the west side of Mexico - to the Atlantic.  Big or small it is hugely popular along the eastern coast of Central America where it is said by many to sustain the tourism industry.  And over the years the panga has become increasingly popular in the United States.