We’d reserved judgement when we first arrived in Bonaire. Other than the crystal clear water attracting us, we were harassed by mosquitoes, boiled in the daily and nightly heat and with the exception of the staff at Budget Marine, found many of the local business people a bit short with us. But Rob and Rhian, whom we’d met in Bequia off the boat, Beyzano, told us it would grow on us. And it has.
The other cruisers have been lovely to get to know. They’re a casual lot without pretence, plenty of helpful advise and good conservationists. Even the local business people have begun to treat us in a more friendly manner as they get to know us. We are greeted like long lost pals at the restaurant where we go for internet, the guy at the fruit market gives us great deals, the boat is cooler with our new windscoop and even the mosquitoes are beginning to cooperate: having made a Southern Cross shape of bites on Thomas’ chest – just like on the Australian flag!!! (unfortunately, he wouldn’t let me take a photo of it and actually it was probably more like the kiwi flag because they were red but it had the fifth star).
We had a great day when we hired a scooter and toured the island for the day, although
we have made a mental note to go for the 100cc ones next time. The poor little 50cc couldn’t make it up some small hills with Thomas, me and the picnic. I would have to jump off with the backpack and run up behind as Thomas shot off, gleefully, towards the summit. I’m sure it was a sight to be seen, (or maybe next time, I drive).
A coastal road winded its way north-west and we found lots of beach-entry dive sites along the way. One road sign had a diver walking to caution on-coming traffic. The water was a beautiful turquoise for a few
metres and then went a dark blue very rapidly as it descended with coral laden walls. As we drove inland a bit we came across a salt lake, Goto Lake, which was prized as a flamingo reserve. From a lookout we saw many of the island’s two hundred species but no sign of a flamingo. Humming birds and parrots swooped past our heads totally oblivious to our presence. The inland road took us to the island’s old capital, built in the centre of the island to deter pirate raids on the inhabitants. A quick look around helped us to decide that the real action was happening on the coast and we drove straight through. It was a sleepy little town. Many shanties built from discarded tin littered the road. One character had tried to dress his up by painting flags of the world on separate pieces of tin. Many had taken advantage of the plague of cactus on the island and had built an effective fence out of them. Some had every second cactus bent inwards for an aesthetically pleasing overall affect, (I wouldn’t have liked to be the one doing the bending – maybe it’s a profession here on the island – Cactus Bender).
We ended up back in the town where we began before we found the road that led us to Lac Bay; a world destination for windsurfers. The bay itself is only waist deep with a sandy bottom. A great place to learn windsurfing and I was ready to give it a go but alas, there was no wind. We devoured our picnic lunch in a shady spot and then headed to the beach bar to see what was happening closer to the action. Other than a couple playing Frisbee, there wasn’t a lot going on. A few bathers were wading into the waters but the sun was too hot for such a shallow swim for us so we went on. We drove on to the south end of the island that is so low that you almost have to be on top of it before you see it from the sea.
The two economic drives on Bonaire are tourism and the salt trade. There on the salt flats was a flock of flamingos, two individuals were quite close to the road. It was the closest I’d been to them. As we rounded the bottom end of the island we came across rows of miniature mud huts that were used to house the slaves. Tiny for human existence, but with a great ocean view. Life would have been extremely cruel and stories of carrying the salt to the waiting boats is recalled on a plaque. The heat would have been unbearable. The mountains of salt remain and resemble snow almost too bright to look at, thank goodness the slave huts are empty now and are only haunted from a shameful past.
We had a wonderful day and it was only topped off by our journey off our mooring today to the other side of Klien Bonaire, the small island offshore. Our Australian friends, Paul, Joyce and daughter Darien, joined us for a diving trip with Qi. There are many moorings around the island and we went to two during the day. Thomas continues to be concerned about his tooth and is only free diving so it was great to have a couple of dive buddies for the day. Thomas is reaching 10 metres regularly and is taking a free diving course on Tuesday to see if he can improve. We were lucky to find an expert on the island. Darien and I did a bit of school work and we had a lovely lunch before heading back in by 5pm.
The dive sites were both walls covered with an abundance of corals and plenty of unusual fish. Many great sights for the mind to behold. I hope to continue diving a few more times before we return to Curacao later next week.