Bluefields, Nicaragua

If you’ll join me in 1926:

While it obviously was not Chicago, someone who wanted to go out in Bluefields had choices. The central neighborhood of the city had six or eight small restaurants; the mestizo places served rice and beans with their fish, and the Creole ones served rice and fried plantains with theirs. Both had the same beer and rum. The Chinese families who had come to the coast ten and twenty years before to start hardware stores and groceries had opened a few restaurants as well, and it was now possible to buy sopa wonton here on the east coast of Central America.

The city had a single gas station with an absentee U.S. owner and a garrulous Creole manager who stayed open late on weekend nights for no reason.

Also in the central neighborhood was a bar serving the mestizo population around the corner from the Catholic church which did the same.

Anyone friendly with the British consulate staff in the city might get invited up onto the porch of the consulate for gin. A man wandering the streets might run into some New Orleans sailors, or the Belgians who owned a shop on the main street, or the doctor we had from Italy who spoke Spanish to all the foreigners but Italian to the Nicaraguans. Bluefields was an international city with diversions for a man suffocating in a hotel room.

-from Pearl Lagoon: A Novel.

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