"BAMBULE" A Hidden Caribbean Taste On The Pacific 

Gregory Lewin

Photos courtesy of hecho

Managua, Nicaragua May 2, 2011 - There I was sitting at Nikki’s Sport shop waiting to pick-up a package of Nicaraguan made baseball uniforms when one of the employees came out to deliver a message, which I will not mention in this article, from another customer at the same establishment. I looked inside to see who this mysterious person was and there he was hiding in the corner of the office. It was Bruce Francis with his usual laugh and his signature greeting “what’s up loco”. We hugged each other as usual and shook hands

Upon arriving at Nikki’s, I was told that it would be 20 minutes, which meant 2 ½ hours Nicaragua time, before the package would be ready.  Yes, I am serious. The good thing though is that I didn’t really feel the time go by since I was chatting with my good friend Bruce. No specific topic. We discussed everything from sports to politics, etc. I had not seen Bruce in almost two years, so it was indeed nice seeing him again though we had chatted on the phone a few times prior.

Bruce offered me a ride back to my hotel and by this time I had already missed lunch and was hungry, so I asked Bruce if he was hungry, and he replied “not really”. Then he asked if I knew Washi’s place, and I said no though the name sounded very familiar. As we continued chatting, I recalled my uncle Steve telling me about this great restaurant in Managua. I never got the chance to visit the place and really it was no longer present in my mind. What I had in mind was a big 14 ounce steak from my favorite restaurant off the Masaya highway. 

We continued chatting while we drove to Washi’s place. Embedded in the middle of a residential area is ‘THE BAMBULE BAR”. It is hard to see from the street unless you know where you are going. Don’t let the name “bar” fool you as this place is the best Caribbean restaurant bar on the pacific. The front wall of the building is adorned with bamboo shoots. Sitting on the veranda was a tall young man with dark shades dressed in white. As we walked up to the establishment, he and Bruno (Bruce) greeted each other. I later learned that their relationship goes back many, many years. 

Bruce introduced me to Mr. Washington Hodgson better known to most people as Washi. We chatted a bit and then went inside the bar.  As we walked inside the restaurant, I felt a sense of calm and relaxation after a long day of bustle and hustle on the streets of Managua. The place has a cozy and very tranquil atmosphere. We made a right turn in front the bar then a quick left unto a narrow hallway with tables on both sides then straight ahead to a larger open seating area. The tables and chairs are handmade artisan style. Walking through the hallway there are signs with some very smart phrases and one that stood out read “when you come to BAMBULE, what you hear, what you see, what you say, you leave at BAMBULE, if you can’t do this then don’t come back to BAMBULE”.

The restaurant is adorned with many artisan pieces and a large photo of Bob Marley. A very small dance hall is also available with music playing from a compact stereo. Sorry no DJ but trust me the music selection is great.

We sat down and asked to see the menu and the first thing that caught my eyes or better yet my appetite was the Tortuga a la plancha. I asked Bruce if he had had that before as it caught my attention. Up until then I had never eaten Tortuga a la plancha. I instantly fell in love with this little hidden treasure. I wished I had more time to sample every dish, but I was scheduled to travel the following day. I decided to sample the Tortuga a la plancha and a large fried whiting dish all served with rice and beans cooked in coconut milk. Bruce ordered the whiting fish in sauce.

While we waited for our food, we headed back to the veranda to chat with Washi. I have to say that I was surprised to learn that Washington Hodgson was one of the best baseball pitchers the Caribbean coast has ever produced. I asked him if he knew my uncle Arington, and he replied, “Yes man but no one knows him as Arington, he is known as “Pulpo”. He said that Arington was one of the best outfielders to play in Bluefields. We talked about his baseball career and learned that Washi had great success with his pitching career. He was drafted by the then Carazo professional baseball team on the Pacific. He was the first to beat the intimidating Booth team from Bluff facing great players such as Jack Palance and Alvin “Bubu” Omeir.

When asked why he doesn’t tell his story, he kindly replied, “I don’t like talking about myself.” So I told him that in recognition of those athletes from the Caribbean coast who have played and excelled at this game     Bluefieldspulse.com is setting up a page to highlight such achievements. I informed Mr. Washington of our ongoing efforts, and he loves the idea.

In our conversation, I also discovered that my friend Bruce Francis also played for Carazo. He was in the Carazo farm league and was called up to play along side Washi which is where the friendship started. I turned to Bruce and said, “Man you only talked about softball. I had no idea you played professional ball.” 

When asked how the name “BAMBULE” came about, Mr. Washington  said, “I came up with the name you know “bamboo” and the word “Le” came from an African friend who used to greet me each time we saw each other. It means love, so I named the place in honor of my African brother.”

Our food was ready so we proceeded back to our table. I started with the Tortuga a la plancha and delicious was the first thing that came out of my mouth. It was nice and tender. The fried whiting was also delicious. The rice and beans was cooked to perfection. You could taste the coconut milk which gives it that unique Caribbean taste. I enjoyed my two dishes. The only regret I had was not being able to sample the rest of the menu before leaving. Then Washi surprised us with a slice of coco cake for desert. You can get coco and cassava cake at the BAMBULE.

As we sat there on the veranda, I saw patrons coming and going. Some were in parties of two and four, etc. I also observed one of the best customer care service in play. Mr. Washington sits on the veranda to ensure he greets every customer that walks through the door and also ensure that they enjoyed their lunch or dinner. He shook every single patrons hand as they left the establishment. How could you not come back? As a Supervisor of a Customer Care team of a major Satellite Communication company, I was able to recognize what he was doing. I do it every day. We make sure our customers are happy, so that they continue to come back.

I used to drive all the way on the Masaya highway for a good plate of food not knowing that the ‘BAMBULE BAR AND RESTAURANT” was only a dash away.

Next time you are in Managua please drop in and enjoy the authentic food the Caribbean coast has to offer at the BAMBULE BAR and RESTAURANT.

The Bambule is located at:
Villa Pedro Joaquin Chamorro
de la Iglesia Catolica 1 ½ c. al Este
Phone: 2248-5516    

"bambule" is of African origin (meaning "riot" or "dance")




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