by Jorge Giraldez-Benard
There is snorkeling in the coral reefs, sunbathing or horseback riding on long, white, deserted beaches. You can take a boat trip away from the main towns to find totally virgin spots, and, yes, they are still very un-populated! There is very little tourism infrastructure here, making it ideal for the Eco-tourist, campers, adventure seekers and sport fishermen. If you don't feel like camping, there are also a few guest house which will rent you a room. The area is ideally situated for sustainable development, and is in need of investors to join with the locals to open this natural paradise to accommodate visitors and stimulate the work force.
The residents of this region are a laid back people. When you have everything you need, why hurry? Governor Hodgson-Bobbs has initiated several projects to encourage foreigners to come and intelligently develop this beautiful area. It is, however, a hard job for one man, and the Governor sometimes puts in 17-hour days for weeks on end. I have caught him napping whenever he has a moment. He seems to be loved by his region and supported by the area delegates.
Unlike the rest of Nicaragua, you have to keep in mind that the Caribbean coast was never colonized by the Spanish, it remained a British protectorate until the late 1800 ís. The only part of the rain-forest-covered coast usually visited by travelers is Bluefields, but growing numbers of visitors also head up the coast to Puerto Cabezas or out to the Islas del Maíz (Corn Islands). If you choose not to fly, the journey from Managua to Bluefields involves a five-hour bus ride (8 U$) to Rama, and then a 2-hour boat trip down the Rio Escondido to Bluefields (10 U$).
Tasbapowny is a little village with a massive amount of natural resources. The land owners have been passed down title from their forefathers and are wealthy and poor at once. There is a 13 room hotel in the center of town near the baseball field and the local churches. The Governor comes in regularly to inspect first hand what he has contracted workers to do for the town. We sat in one of their town meetings and it was filled with concerned citizens voicing their opinions at the delegates and Governor.
No cars or motorcycles at all. Just boats, plenty of them on the beach and on the lagoon side about 200 yards from town. They are mostly fishermen and are in need of alternative employment so tourism is the focus and ultimately their economic savior. In the 1970's, there was a Texan who owned a fishing camp on the Matagalpa River, just north of Tasbapowny, who reported catching tarpon weighing over 200 pounds, on bait casting tackle, and snook weighing upwards of 20 to 30 pounds. (I understood from my sources that he is returning to re-construct the fishing lodge he originally had) You can surely enjoy fishing in calm estuaries and lagoons.
Still further up there are more towns like Barra de Rio Grande, and Sandy Bay. I know that in the near future this area will give Costa Rican fishing camps a run for their money. Nicaragua, with its natural resources, can capture a good part of the Costa Rican recreational fishing industry. I call it a fisherman's paradise. The biggest problem here is transportation to this region. Air travel is restricted to Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas about the same distance north and south of Sandy Bay. There are small transport vessels departing daily from both port town to the extreme of their regions and back. This is the only way of arriving here. As tourism develops I am sure the introduction amphibian aircraft will follow.