Friday morning and we got cracking. I cleaned more stainless and even climbed up to wash the huge amounts of Sahara dust from the solar panels. Richard did more maintenance and other cleaning jobs down below…… Phew…… Really hot and humid here now – so everything seems to take so much more effort than before.
After an early dinner on board we headed into the town square where there was a commemoration evening for Captain Don – the Dutch guy who introduced diving to Bonaire having shipwrecked his yacht on arrival – having somehow managed to rescue his scuba tanks. He was something of a character, ran his own dive operation, and lived to a ripe old age. It appeared that he was universally loved and there was a constant scroll of photos of him on the big screen throughout the evening.
The evening included the kids with the local dance troupe doing a modern dance after a rendition of Mary Poppins! Couldn’t believe that here we were in Bonaire singing along to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous! Completely bonkers….. Oh yes, and that wasn’t the only thing that surprised us – there was a full-on kebab van doing proper doners…. and was the busiest food outlet of the night! We can only eat them after a drink, not before or during LOL!!!!
Then it was the turn of the fire dancer / eater to entertain us – and his friend on the mike got some local kids to dance and then their parents. All good family fun…..
Oh yes, and we bought a single raffle ticket, and guess what! We won!!! Seriously – the first ticket of the night was ours and we won two t-shirts from one of the local dive operators. We never usually win anything….!!!!
Overall we had a great evening and thought that Captain Don would have been proud. We listened and watched some local teenagers that had won the equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent and were now appearing in Curacao. Eventually we called it a night and left.
Saturday dawned and it was miserable – raining intermittently and grey. The wind had dropped as well so our battery bank was feeling the pain! Oh yes….and the fridge and freezer are working….but they are drawing way too much power. Need to get this sorted next season pronto! We were on board doing boat jobs most of the day and headed in for sundowners….. We caught the end of the Columbian game and enjoyed the spectacle of the VERY noisy and excited fans celebrating their success…..
We then headed back onboard for a quiet night and a spectacular moody sunset.
Sunday morning and we were up early. The Dutch were playing again in the World Cup so we wanted to be part of the orange world. So we went into the bar for the 12 noon kick-off – Hup Holland Hup! Well…. it got quieter and quieter as the game went on – oops looks like they might not make it – so you can only imagine the noise and cheering and general excitement when Holland scored and eventually made it through! Phew….. Having enjoyed a few Coronitas (baby Coronas) we decided not to watch the next game and went back on board for a quiet afternoon / evening.
Monday morning and we headed into town to hire a car. Well, actually, it’s a pick-up truck. They don’t allow you to have dive gear in the cars so this is what we ended up with instead. All very new and shiny and probably the best – and definitely the most expensive – rental we’ve had this season.
The rules were carefully explained to us – no locking doors; no leaving anything in the truck; leave windows open and any contents on full view. All very alien – but apparently, if you leave it open the local vagabonds can check it out and will leave it alone. Leave a bag inside and they will steal it. Lock it up and there is clearly something worth stealing inside – so they smash windows! Not what we were expecting but hey, if the locals say this is how to do it, then who are we to argue????
Now that we had transport we decided to explore a bit of the island. Bonaire is largely desert and volcanic rock and is very desolate in places – and completely different from the lush green islands that we have visited. But it has its own beauty – a bit like Anegada – with coral strewn beaches and empty roads and the sea has the most visibility than we have ever encountered. Watching parrot fish from the jetty or the pier when you know the water is 20 feet deep is something very special.
We went down the west coast of the island and noticed all the yellow boulders on the shore line which link to yellow markers in the ocean – all marked dive sites ready to be explored. Looking forward to doing this soon!
We then visited the slave huts – the slaves imported here were largely involved in the production of salt – and marvelled at the huge mounds of salt being harvested…. There were flamingos in the salt lakes too… Amazing.
Further down the coast and we came across a number of obelisks – these used to be coloured red, white and blue to match the Dutch flag – and were identifiers for ships coming to collect salt with the different coloured obelisks identifying the grade of salt available at each location. The slave huts were incredibly small with just a tiny doorway and a window to the rear – quite sobering to realise that people lived in this barren land in such harsh conditions.
We then headed off to Luc Bay – a windsurfers paradise….. Had a sandwich and a soda before moving on…..
We then visited the donkey sanctuary. Originally the donkeys were involved in the movement of salt – and were left to run wild on the island when machines took their place. A Dutch woman decided to rescue them from a life of scrounging and being injured / mistreated – so she managed to obtain an area equal to six football pitches and now rescues them. Males are castrated immediately and the females – who are usually pregnant when they arrive – are sterilised after they have given birth. The new arrivals, mothers and babies are kept separately until they have settled – being fed three times a day, and some of the newborns with additional milk – and then they are left to roam around the area and are fed twice a day. We visited the babies first – and Richard decided that a selfie with one of the little ones would be a good idea, hilarious result! – and then we drove into the compound.
As we drove along we met a few donkeys here and there and we gave them carrots…. Oh yes, and then they all materialised out of nowhere and started chasing us. It was funny to start with – then they stood in front of us, wouldn’t move, would run alongside and we would worry about hitting them…. All for carrots! Well, in the end, it wasn’t funny as they were getting a bit naughty so we just chucked carrots out along the side of the road and only fed a few by hand when we were sure there were none hiding around the corner! Check out the photo of one running alongside……
Later on we ended up back in the bar for a couple of cold ones before retiring back to Morphie to watch another sunset and have a quiet evening on board.
Tuesday morning and we were out and about early. We picked up four dive tanks – two smaller ones for me and two normal sized for Richard. Decided to go down this route – and I wore my really old 1mm suit rather than my normal 3mm one – just to reduce the amount of weight that I have to carry. Shore diving is much more strenuous than boat diving…..
Our first site was called 18 Palms – after the palm trees that line the road. This dive was very similar to the ones that we had done off the back of Morphie – and nothing in particular to note other than the huge shoals of fish that were around. They weren’t particular big fish but wow – definitely another aquarium job! Then we moved along the coast to Windsock (named because it is close to the airport) – which had a pier to the right and a split reef to the left. The coral here was different – with large bombies along with quite a bit of fire and stag coral. Loads of soft stuff in between too…. We stayed around 20 metres / 60 feet on the way out and 10 metres / 30 feet on the way back. The navigation was tougher than the others but we managed to get back to where we had started from and had a great dive. The fish here were larger than we had seen – of particular note are the parrots, trigger fish and porcupine fish who are up to two feet long! And then the huge shoals of blue tangs come along….following the goat fish who churn up the bottom….and another very large wrasse. He was probably three feet long. The coral here had more colour to it – and there were loads of purple sponges lying around. This was also a nursery for sergeant majors and others. Fantastic! Here are some of our favourite dive buddies…..
Oh well…. back to the truck – back to the dive shop, cleaned and stowed all our gear – then back to Morphie who really likes her mooring balls……
And then we picked up the laundry. Yes, I know…. more laundry….. but sheets and towels are really hard to hand wash and get dried – so we end up collecting them until we find somewhere to get them done. The laundry here was great – very very clean, loads of machines etc, free wifi and ability to buy soft drinks. We were about to start watching the USA game on the TV too but the woman who worked there switched it over to some cheesy Spanish soap opera! Oh well… never mind. Laundry done – and we ended up back in Karels for a couple of beers just to catch the end of the match. Huge crowd in – and split loyalties – so was a pretty good atmosphere. Was a tough game…. Well done Belgium – bad luck USA, you played well. My loyalty was with the USA of course – not because we have loads of friends there actually – but really because their manager Jurgen Klinsman used to play for Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur) many years ago and I loved watching him in action!!!!
After the game we had a quiet night on board and enjoyed the unusual sight of a small cruise ship in the harbour…..
This morning – Wednesday – and we went diving again. More details to follow in the next blog. Bye for now