Bluefields is the capital of the Southern Autonomous Region on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is unusual in being one of the few countries in Latin America simultaneously colonized by two European powers. The west was colonized by Spain, and their usual policies implemented resulting in the complete extinction of indigenous cultures and peoples. In their place, a Mestizo, Spanish-speaking, Catholic culture evolved.
The east, or Caribbean coast, however, fared differently. It was colonized by Great Britain and the result was the survival of three indigenous groups, including the Miskitu, Sumu, and Rama, and three multi-ethnic communities, including the Creole and Garifunu.
Differences between the two regions were only exacerbated when, in 1894, the Spanish speaking Nicaraguan military - with the help of the US - invaded the Caribbean coast, forcing territorial integration, to which the Costeños were implacably opposed. Successive Nicaraguan administrations began implementing policies that sought to impose the primacy and dominance of Mestizo culture. Indigenous cultures and languages of the Caribbean coast were forbidden by governmental decree and licences and concessions granted to US and other foreign interests to exploit the natural resources of the region without much tangible benefit to the locals.
The Autonomy Law, first implemented under the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) government in 1987 (bitterly opposed by Nixon and other Republican successors), sought to redress the injustices created by centuries of foreign and internal colonialism.
The people are still well aware of their combined heritage of being escaped/freed slaves, part of indigenous groups, descendants of Spanish settlers, and/or a mix of any of these groups. This creates a very diverse and vibrant community. The language most spoken is a Creole of English. Most people speak Spanish as a second or third language after Creole and/or an indigenous language. All in all, there are 6 different ethnicities that can be found throughout the region; Black/Creole, Mestizo, Miskito, Rama, Sumu, Garifuna.
Domestic flights arrive from Managua. The flight is about USD100 each way, or cheaper if you book a round-trip flight. There are also flights from here to Corn Island which are also about USD100 one-way.
There is now a dirt road from Rama to Bluefields, but there are no bus services. Bus service runs from Rama to Pearl Lagoon through Kukra River. From there you can take a panga to Bluefields
There is a boat leaving San Juan Del Norte every Wednesday at 8 am to Bluefields. It s the same Boat which goes to the Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island. There are pangas from Bluefields to and from: Rama, San Juan de Nicaragua (del Norte), Pearl Laggon, Haulover, Kukra River, Tasbapouni, La Cruz de Rio Grande, Karawala, Sandy Bay and El Bluff. Most cargo ships which go to Big Corn have to stop at El Bluff for paperwork. They almost always take passengers for about C$ 250. The Capitanía (close to Bluff's port) can tell you when the next ship for Corn Island is stopping there.
Ten cordobas (NIO10, about USD0.50) per person anywhere you go. However coming from the airport with a lot of luggage they will charge you NIO20. Taxis are easily found zipping around the streets.
Learn to speak "Miskito". Learn how to eat turtle. Learn to walk slow and smile.
When travelling at night always take a taxi, especially around "Four Brothers". After 20:00 always take a taxi. Do not carry more money than necessary. Do not flash expensive items (such as cameras) around. Use common sense. Don't go into small alleys.