Bluefields gave me a really good vibe straight away. Maybe was it also the feeling of being on the road by myself again, an incredible feeling of freedom and uncertainty which I have become addicted to. I was also glad for all the possibilities of being in a big town, in comparison to living on Little Corn Island.
Although I do not see any other foreigners in the city it doesn’t make people stare at me. Actually I have noticed the same in a lot of places in Central America, which is nice as I am quite tall and impossible to blend in into a group of locals. The feeling here is a bit raw, in a positive way, and people seems very real without any social layers telling them how to be or act.
Bluefields have a reputation of being the refueling port for Colombian drug smugglers and this is confirmed when the music on the radio in a restaurant is interrupted by a news announcement. The traffic here are mostly Marijuana and “white lobster”, also known as cocaine. The nickname comes from smuggling boats that dumps their cargo before getting caught by the police. Then local speedboats find these packages, or they get washed up on the shore for some lucky(?) person to find it. Within one day of arriving to the city a guy on the street already tries to sell me something. This is nothing new in the Caribbean, but is usually more concentrated in the areas where the tourists are located.
The place where I am staying is a dirty family owned hotel placed next to what I suspect is a brothel. The cost for a single room is C$120 (less than 4 euro) and included in the price is shower-creme/shampoo and a condom from Vietnam. After dropping my toothbrush on the floor I quickly decide to buy a new toothbrush.
Somewhere between 2 and 5 every morning the neighbor’s rooster wakes me up. I am somewhat used to this from living on Corn Island where, again, my neighbors had several roosters as pets. I try to visit a cock fight one night to get my revenge, but the fight is mystically cancelled. Cock fights are legal in Nicaragua and somewhat common in a selection of the country’s cities. In Bluefields the cock fights can be found s few times per week behind a house in the Fatima neighborhood.
When walking around in Bluefields, even in the middle of the center, you quickly realize how open and welcoming all the apartments are. You might think an apartment is a restaurant until you take a glimpse inside and see the family in front of the television. This feels like a big contradiction as most houses have high security with metal bars or barbed wire but at the same time are so open to visitors.
There are a lot of cars in the city, and with at least 80% of them being taxis you never have to wait more than a minute to find a ride. The cost for a normal taxi ride here is C$12, about 40 Euro cent. In Nicaragua people share taxi but pay individually, which means that the taxi you jump into might not go to your destination first, but why hurry?
A strange fact is that about half of the cars have no number plates. On [Big] Corn Island no number plates are standard but on the mainland the idea is for all cars to have them. Bluefields seems to be in some kind of gray zone for this law and I can not find any local that can explain this phenomena.
The nightlife in the city is really good with a lot of great bars to choose from. Don’t be surprised when everyone clears the dance floor after each song. This is because there are a few seconds pause between the songs and with very varied music people only dance to the songs they like, but most of the songs fills the dance floor again (probably with the same people as before). Don’t expect to meet a lot of other foreigners in the bars or night clubs, although people here tell me that in May the high season starts with a month long party and then there should be more tourists passing by. I was lucky to instead stay in Bluefields on the 30th September when the Feast of Saint Jerome takes part, which is celebrated with fireworks and people dressed out like fat ladies with face masks.
How to summarize a city like this? One day when walking into a pharmacy to ask for a headache pill to cure my small hangover the clerk working there recommended me to drink a small beer instead.
That is Bluefields.
For a small 7 minute documentary about music and culture in
Bluefields, visit this link.