Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bluefields, or Where Planes Refuel on the Way to the Corn Islands

blueEnergy’s center of operations in Bluefields, Nicaragua makes it a reasonable panga ride away from the coastal communities it serves (Kahkabila, Monkey Point, Set Net) and an unreasonable distance from pretty much everywhere else. People do not come here. It is not spoken of as a vacation destination. You can, and we did, request a one-way ticket in Managua to Bluefields (with reservations) and still receive a round-trip ticket to the Corn Islands. This will only become evident at baggage check.

The only other gringos you will see here are on their way somewhere else.

There are two options for getting to Bluefields, one of which is quick and painless. The plane ride from Managua runs about $80 one way, $130-ish ida y vuelta. They will leave as soon as the plane is full, so it is strongly inadvisable, for example, to scamper off to the international section of the airport to change money and leave your spouse hanging out with your stuff while the plane begins boarding forty-five minutes early. Once safely aboard, do not sneeze. The plane will roll.

The other option is by bus, then boat. It is cheaper, slower, and scenic. Spanish for crocodiles is cocodrilos. Keep your hands to yourself and everything will be fine.

Upon safely arriving in Bluefields, you will find two casinos, a Tip-Top Chicken (fast food that’s as good as it sounds), a wharf, market, small downtown shopping area, and pulperias selling beverages and fruits every other house. You can buy Toña in three minutes, walking, round-trip, if you take your sweet time. The population is 55,000 people, though it seems smaller. The streets are full of taxis and thin dogs seeking employment in scratching themselves. There are few private vehicles here, due to the general inaccessibility by road and the relative costs. Sometimes, there are sidewalks. You will have a difficult time finding a lighter outside of downtown, but not matches. Forget everything you know about craft beer.

It’s difficult to say what it would be like coming here outside of an institutional presence. People seem to generally know what we’re doing, or who we’re involved with, and blueEnergy has close ties with the community and a local technical school here. It’s less safe at night, after ten o’clock, regardless of who you are. The nightlife is limited but lively. Everything is cheap, by American standards. If you manage to make your way out to visit, take the plane, bring a hammock, and we’ve got the first round.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure that your locale is on our immediate ittenerary, but glad the blog is up. I feel strangley connected and part of your journey due to our chance meeting over some yummy beers in Michigan. Thinking good thoughts of you and hope things are well!! I look forward to updates...