The Miskito Coast of Nicaragua is the storied haven of conquistadors and the pirates of the
Spanish Main. However, today it’s an even stranger and more difficult place – poor and far from the oversight or assistance of the government. Unemployment is extraordinary at over 80%. But some people live very, very well. The secret to the strange wealth of the town of Bluefields is the mysterious and valuable white lobster that washes ashore. La langosta bianca is actually bales – literally bales – of cocaine. Each is worth about US$122,000. The coast off Bluefields is so commonly used as a drug trafficking route that locals call it the “country road” from northward, eventually ending up in American cities. The US Navy and Coast Guard is often hot on the heels of the speedboats. The fleeing drug runners will throw the drugs overboard, and the currents wash the contents ashore on the Bluefields beaches. Locals troll the beaches and sell it for cash to itinerant dealers and traffickers. The 50,000 residents can’t possibly use that much cocaine themselves so they sell it to the “used clothes dealers” who sell it on. Besides large houses, cars, and entertainment the money seems to be spent disproportionately on beer. However there is little to buy in the local stores and electricity is on and off. It is isolated and culturally closer to Colombia Jamaica than – people speak English and use US dollars as the main currency as well as Costa Rican and Honduran money. Nicaragua
There is surprising little crime and violence in Bluefields considering there is also very little law enforcement and almost zero assistance from the federal or state government as it is classified as an autonomous region. People openly consume cocaine in the street. People donate a portion of any “lobster” harvests to the church and school since the government doesn’t provide funding out here. Despite the bales of cocaine and cash stashed all over the town and the surrounding hills, the indigenous Miskito tribe have automatic weapons and plenty of guerilla warfare experience which deter potential Colombian druglords from retaking their drugs.