27 September 2023

The unique, hardy and beautiful sea grape


One of the first misconceptions I had to shed was the dream of rampant colorful blossoms at False Bluff...bougainvilla, ylang ylang, myriad hibiscus, lantana, muhly grass.  All these and more are touted, even by universities, as plants that will - if not thrive - at least do well in salty conditions.  There are long lists of plants that are 'salt tolerant' 

And of course there is salt in the water of the Caribbean but also in the air.  Salt that constantly blows over the plants along the sea...blows in on heavy winds or blows in on soft breezes.  Over the years much of the salt that comes with the air off the sea ends up in the soil and just stays.  It can last for years in soil or as in our case last forever...or as long as the wind blows. i suppose that places where the salt leaches out of the soil are places where the salt was the result of an accidental dump or spill and not places that live at the edge a body of salt water.

If you're a gardener you know how quick salt can kill a plant.  If you're not a gardener you can google about it.  So when we began this project I, a gardener, planted and planted...and almost without fail the plants died.  Turns out my salt tolerant plants were not very tolerant at all...perhaps a sign of the times.

But of course there are exceptions and we continue to use these to good effect.  Some we've planted, some were already there, and some are a combination.  The zoysia wasn't there but we had seen how well it does on an island actually in the Caribbean...whereas we just front on it; And what we call the swamp lily which will migrate right to the edge of the sea.

One that was there is known as sea grape, a structurally splendid plant making up for its totally insignificant flower.  It can be grown as either a shrub or a tree depending on how it's pruned.  We don't prune them but instead let the weather do it for us. 

And although its flower is insignificant it really does produce grapes that are pretty tasty:

21 September 2023

Years of traveling the water highways...


...and I've never seen such boats as large as this.  

Still not seen often but more and more as Bluefields and Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast grows.  This is in Bluefields Bay.

15 September 2023

A tree fell across our canal when no one was there...did it make a sound ?

After a few days at False Bluff working with the contractor, outlining what color of paint goes where, unloading and distributing the contents of barrels shipped from Virginia, pinpointing just where the greywater systems would go, walking the beach, planning future landscaping...we wake up and it's time to go back to Bluefields.  For ice cream, if nothing else.

The boat is loaded with people and food just harvested to deliver to family and friends - papaya, coconut, casava.  And not too far down the canal, just past the tree where the spider monkeys hang out (literally), a big tree had fallen across the water blocking our departure.  

I'm not sure how this would have played out in the USA but here problems are solved on site.  The chainsaw was in Bluefields, stored as much as is possible in the tropics away from moisture and salt in the air.  But we have pretty good phone service so my head guy, Jefe, called the staff house and asked for another set of hands, a couple of machetes, and an axe.

The branches were removed with a machete while the tree itself was cut into three pieces and removed from the canal with a rope in about a half hour while we waited in the boat.

07 September 2023

A visitor

I had a small visitor one evening while in the apartment where I stay when I'm in Bluefields rather than at False Bluff.  

Actually it was a very tiny visitor.

Truth be told, I was the visitor.  I'm pretty sure s/he lives there full time.  

01 September 2023


A bit of an identity crisis?  No.  An overdue challenge, not any kind of crisis at all.

More than a decade ago - when we began the adventure recounted in this blog - we named our place False Bluff and this blog followed suit. 

After all, maps of Nicaragua's Caribbean coast say "False Bluff" right where we are...or "Falso Bluff"...so why not.  The name had simplicity going for it and we really needed simplicity at the start.  

Over the years we cleared and planted and built and dug.  What we dug was a canal from a lagoon behind us to provide us access - to our place and to the beach and to the sea.  And we opened the canal to the public and then provided the public with a clear pathway that led, from the dock we built, right out to the beach.  

After digging the canal, travel to this section of False Bluff was open and people didn't have to make the trip by way of the capricious Caribbean.  More people have come and stayed; and many of them rightly call where they are False Bluff...just like it says even on google maps.

However, people being people, we and they are doing different things and our name needs to reflect what we're doing.  So we're thinking, imagining, trying out what will best define us both now and in the future.  

I'm pretty sure that somewhere in whatever name we end up with will be the two words that will forever define us:  False Bluff