Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Getting Around and Out of Bluefields

Noted earlier: at least 90% of the vehicles on the roads of Bluefields are taxis and (unlike many U.S. cities) clearly marked. You do not gaze and wonder at taxis here. Driving a taxi in Bluefields does not preclude you from having gigantic speakers mounted in your trunk, tricked-out grills, or comic horns. Driving a taxi in Bluefields, if anything, encourages these things.

The currency unit in Nicaragua is the cordoba, with the exchange rate hovering close to 20 cords per US$1. Before ten o’clock, taxis will take you basically anywhere pavement exists in Bluefields (not as comforting as it sounds) for a fixed price of 10 cords. After 10 PM, the price bumps up to fifteen. This is per person, regardless of your destination, and regardless of how many people you can fit into the front, back, and stereo-filled trunk.

Your time as a clown-car celebrity means nothing here. Ten cords.

More often than not, you’re better off walking. The bE casa seems to be on the outskirts of the central population bubble, but it’s only a fifteen minute walk into the shopping and market areas. Everyone will look at your goofy pale skin, but only because it looks goofy and pale. You’ll see endless little shops where you could purchase veggies, eggs, meats, and sodas. But you won’t, because it’s very hard to see inside and little dark stores selling meat of questionable origins is of some concern (sorry, kids). At night, with the shelves lit, the pulperias of Bluefields appear more inviting.

Other options: bike (both kinds), mud-spattered horse, crowded pickup.

There are roads leading outside the city limits, or appearing to, but there’s nothing nearby. Everywhere one would go is reached either by panga, bigger boat, or plane. We’d planned to spend New Year’s Eve by traveling to the Corn Islands, heading out by boat this morning, but no boats are allowed to dock there this week. The wind’s up. Planes are typically too expensive (~$100 apiece for round-trip, 20-minute flights) for four days.

BUT. We now have other plans, including a Creole cooking class.

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