by Jorge Giraldez-Benard
A Upon arrival we were met by a half dozen luggage handlers wanting to help. If you choose to be helped, it is a good idea to workout the price before hand. (They speak English here) The taxi stands and airline offices are about 50 yards up a paved pathway. While your there, go in and see Nydia Taylor, a charming young girl manning the Nica Airline office.
Have her re-confirm your return flight and give her a contact number where you will be staying, if in a town. I personally suggest that you should be at the runway at least two hours before the flight is expected. They tend to advance the schedule for var ious reasons.
Nydia is also a wealth of information about what to do and see in Bluefields and surrounding areas. We took a cab to the South Atlantic Hotel I, and were met by Francisca Chambers, a delightful, soft spoken women that checked us in. The hotel is a comfo rtable, clean and centrally located near Parque Cabezas. The rooms have private bath and air conditioning , cable television and telephones. We had a large breakfast and proceeded to our meeting at the Regional Governor's office to update our schedule. We met with the Southern Regional Governor, Rayfield Hodgson Bobbs, and discussed the areas we wanted to visit. The Governor suggested that we go up the coast and stop along the way, as there was plenty to see. We agreed to meet him a few days later at the northern portion of his region, a lovely little town called Tasbapowny.
Before leaving Bluefields, we visited the local fish processing plant in El Bluff across the bay and were met by Dr. Marvin Happel of Oceanic. We toured the plant and visited the packing house where they process and pack the Caribbean's biggest shrimp. This facility employs a large percentage of the local population. We visited the ship yard next to the plant and were impressed at the dry docking and maintenance facilities provided to international fishing fleets that work these waters under contract with the Government. We saw many US registered commercial fishing vessels from Texas. The horizon is dotted with many others. This is big business in this region and the local economy is benefiting from these companies doing business in the area. We took a walking tour around this little town and had a look around. Very small in size but complete with sidewalks and Church. No school, the local kids are ferried daily to Bluefields and back for classes on a modern transport boat supplied by the processing plant. Hou sing and medical facilities are provided to most of the work force here. It looks like a very productive operation and packing first quality sea food products ready for export to the U.S.
We later chartered a twin engine Citation that the owner of the processing plant, Johnny Vogel, chartered out of Managua. We toured the nearby Peril Cayes, where the local lobster divers work the beds and h arvest massive amounts of lobster for export, mainly to the US. We invited the Governor to join us in flying over these beautiful cayes, and had a bird's eye view of the many tourist possibilities this pristine area has to offer foreign investors. Looking down, we saw only four fishermen on one of the smaller Cayes, and we later met one of them, Adrian Julius, on Corn Island. "I was wondering if you were lost up there; normally the only airplanes that pass this way just make a beeline to Corn Island from the mainland", said Adrian, who now lives on Corn Island with his family. We toured for an hour and saw countless Cayes and vast green forests bordering snaky rivers.
Having an ultra-light craft with pontoons would be perfect in this area. We also managed to take some nice aerial photographs. These were taken by me with a pocket camera because we had brought with us a professional photographer to document our travels. We still await his copies to arrive to update this file.(It would be a good idea to get signed contracts before inviting photographers that only deliver promises instead of delivering material)