FInally I have arrived in the Caribbean. Wait a minute, this is not really what I pictured. Where are the crystal clear waters, the cruise ships and all the beautiful people? Wait a minute….I’ve been screwed! Today I am conducting a site visit to our remote operating base for our job in Nicaragua on the Caribbean island of El Bluff. We will be building a helicopter base on this island on the eastern coast of Nicaragua. First we fly from Managua across the entire country (1 hour) in a Cessna Caravan to Bluefields, which is the largest port on the east coast of Central America and has a population of approximately 60,000. Bluefields was originally a hiding place for the Dutch pirate Abraham Blauvelt. It is a very poor and very rough little town and full of primarily darker Nicaraguans. We stood out like crazy and it was a little weird as we walked through town to the dock. A bunch a rich foreigners I guess to them but we are there investing in their region so hard to say what they are thinking. A 20 minute water taxi (open speedboat) trip and you arrive at El Bluff, a very small, almost deserted, island across the bay. There are approximately 600-1000 people that call El Bluff home. There used to be a shrimp boat building and repair company here but for some unknown reason, the company packed up, overnight we are told, and left. The rusting old shrimp boats just sit at anchor in the bay slowly disintegrating as they sink. For the past few years as near as I can tell, the only industry here has been the locals collecting rocks and then breaking them by hammer and chisel into gravel and selling the bags of gravel across the bay in Bluefields. Can’t be a lot of money in that. You can hear them tap, tap, tapping all day long on the island. Now the new shore-base that’s being built by the oil company is employing more than a hundred people to build roads and infrastructure both at the base and in the village. We are having a heli-pad and a hangar built and will be living in these portable accommodation units. A pretty good camp set-up as camps go. And of course we couldn’t have a heli-base without a company dog. There seems to be a little competition in the area for that job but I’m sure they’ll work it out. They always do. The biggest downside will be absolutely nothing to do when not working on the helicopters and this is the famous Mosquito coast. Named not for the bugs, which it really should be, but for the Miskito indians that are the indigenous peoples here. But I think they named the indians after the mosquitos as there a zillions of them here. Not to mention all of the party favours that mosquitos bring with them like malaria and dengue fever. Oh joy. When you consider that there was no infrastructure here 60 days ago, the oil company crew has done amazing work. There is a new road through the village and now they are building a cement road to the clinic. The clinic is really not one but it is getting some investment also. There are a lot of standing pools of water but there is a project underway to properly drain the standing water away from the village in an effort to erraticate the disease issues caused by the bugs. We will all do some of our 6 week tours here as we plan to spread the wealth or misery, depending on how you look at it. Lots to do yet before we are operational but it’s an adventure for sure. I will be glad when we are flying so I don’t have to travel in the little Caravan any more. Give me a twin-engined helicopter any day. By for now.
Finally I Get To The Caribbean