Monthly Archives: March 2013

Bye Bye, Bonaire

After a week in the Caribbean, it was time to head home. Our flight wasn’t until the afternoon, so we squeezed in one more activity: kayaking through a mangrove on the eastern side of the island.

Navigating the mangroves

Although everyone else on the tour was Dutch, they all spoke English, so our guide offered his observations in our native tongue. After scraping through some tight passages, we hopped into the water and admired the colorful sponges and other fauna living on the tree roots.

Soon the mangroves were a memory, and I was cruising toward the resort where we’d rented the moped. I arrived just before the 1:00 deadline… and then realized I hadn’t filled the tank as required. Zipping back to the main roundabout, I was surprised to find lines three vehicles deep at the pumps.

Lines at the pumps

As the clock ticked toward 1:00, I waited in line, figured out how to prepay, filled up, and scooted away. Made it to the resort just in the nick of time.

Fuel cost me about US$8. I was in a hurry, so I didn’t notice how many gallons or liters I pumped, but I do know that mopeds have small tanks. That was probably the cost of just over a gallon!

Day-to-day life must be fairly tough here. Everything has to be shipped in- except salt, there’s plenty of salt. We’ve heard that some of the native (you know, non-Dutch) people resent Westerners enjoying rum punch at fancy resorts, while citizens born here struggle to get by.

Taxi view

In the taxi back to Captain Don’s, the (Bonaire-born) driver shared his thoughts about the island’s 2010 vote to remain part of the Netherlands: he’s all for it. Dutch control, he said, has brought a degree of order to what used to be a do-whatever-you-want environment. He mentioned that there are rules about how many stories high new developments can be, and limits on how much property one person can buy up.

Getting ready for more tourists

Getting ready for more tourists

In our week here, we’ve enjoyed the luxuries of Bonaire: scuba diving, snorkeling, relaxing in our bungalow, and taking a break from job-searching and decision-making back home.

Bonaire sunset

With this trip, our travel fund is officially depleted, and we are officially moving on to the next phase of our lives. Now we just have to figure out what exactly that means!

Bye bye, Bonaire.

Fly away

Snorkeling the Day Away

Sailboat to snorkel spots

One last full day in Bonaire. Since I’m not allowed to dive within 24 hours of a flight (excess nitrogen and all that), today is all about snorkeling.

Good thing, too, since we’ve been here six days, and Karen hasn’t seen a turtle- an unacceptable situation. We need to log some more time underwater!

Diving Deirdre

Diving Deirdre

We began the day with a sailboat excursion to Klein Bonaire island. Our guide, Deirdre, amazed us by spotting critters in the water below and then free diving to point them out to us: unusual fish, various types of coral, and best of all, an octopus. Karen must have mentioned her desire to see a turtle, because at one point, Deirdre swam over, grabbed Karen by the hand, and quickly dragged her through the water… to see a turtle. It was far below us, almost invisible against a backdrop of coral and plants, but Karen was ecstatic.

Then Deirdre spotted another one for us. And another.

By this time, our fellow snorkelers were getting turtled out- they gave a quick glance and swam on. I never seem to tire of turtlespotting, so I was watching when one made for the surface. I expected it to dive immediately after taking a breath, but instead it lazily floated in the waves. Not wanting to disturb it, I did the same, floating just a few feet away, as you can see in this video.

The beauty of Bonaire is that you can snorkel just about anywhere, right off the side of the road. Returning from sailing, we hopped onto our rented scooter and set out for the site known as 1000 Steps.

Entrance to 1000 Steps

The staircase down to the beach does not have 1000 steps, but local lore contends that it feels like a thousand when you lug a heavy scuba tank to the top after a dive.

Having seen so many cool creatures while scuba diving and with the success of the morning’s snorkeling, I wasn’t looking for anything in particular as I paddled around. So of course I found another turtle. It was sitting still, hiding under some branches. Here’s a photo. Nice looking specimen, eh?

Hidden turtle

Whaddya mean, you don’t see it? Click on the thumbnail and see if you can spot a turtle in the larger version of the image. No foolin’… he’s in there somewhere!

(I’m no Deirdre, but I have my moments.)

The Best of the Rest of Bonaire

IMG_6770 iguana

Most vacationers spend their whole time on Bonaire diving, diving, and diving some more. Karen and I aren’t quite as hardcore: we explored on land as well as under the sea.

On our first day, there was a children’s parade in downtown Kralendijk, the biggest city on the island.

The Super Bowl was that night, and while the game didn’t interest us very much, we joined the party at the restaurant next door. The ribs were delicious.

For our last day, we rented a two-person scooter capable of whisking us to the far-flung corners of the island. Well, not all that far: the island is only 24 miles long and a third as wide.

All around the island, we spotted distinctive, all-natural fences.

And finally, an important lesson we learned on this Dutch island: no matter what, make sure you always have a poederblusser handy. Just because it sounds cool.

IMG_7017 poederblusser