We slept super well on the night following our passage. Although neither of us felt especially tired, it is obvious we had a sleep deficit because we slept soundly for ten hours, awaking at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning — just in time to get ready for church.
Bonaire is one of the six Dutch islands in the Caribbean. There are the three “windward” islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Statia (St. Eustatius) and the three “leeward” islands of Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba. Regarding Bonaire, it was love at first sight for the crew of Beatitude. We love the gorgeous, gin-clear water beneath our boat, the hues of blue, the ramped up trade winds which cool the boat, the good food we’ve enjoyed so far in Kralendijk, and the friendly people. For 75% of the inhabitants, Papamiento (or Papamientu) is the main language. Papamiento is a creole blend of at least seven languages, including Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and African languages. About 13% speak Dutch. And about 3% claim English as a main language.
The language thing made church interesting. We had scouted out the churches in town on Saturday. There appeared to be one Catholic church and one Protestant Church. We decided to attend the Protestant church, which is situated close to the water, on this particular Sunday. There was no air-conditioning, but the strong tradewinds blowing through the large open windows kept the congregants comfortable while wreaking havoc on the minister’s sermon notes. Sitting near the side door, we were greeted with the Papamiento, “Bon Dia” by all who entered. The service was primarily in Dutch with a small amount of Papamiento tossed in. We had two different hymnals — one in Dutch, one in Papamiento. It was pretty cool when we knew the song (although not the language). We sang, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in Dutch (or at least we tried!) and “Search me, O God” in Papamiento. The minister graciously paused to address us in English once, letting us know the general theme of her message and the worship service.
We had a great Sunday meal at Karel’s Restaurant on the waterfront, where we both had an excellent steak dinner. We also enjoyed their excellent wifi. We then walked a block southward to enjoy some ice cream for dessert (and also use their wifi). We cannot receive wifi on our mooring here, so unlike most other places where we have had wifi on the boat, we are world-wide-web deficient. In many ways, it is a blessing to be without, because, when it is available, we spend more time on our devices than enjoying God’s great creation. But, lacking wifi is also a curse when we need ready access to information. I have ongoing business and other tasks associated with my work or boat arrangements for which I need wifi. Fortunately, however, there are many restaurants ashore which have excellent wifi. We’ll just have to spend an hour or two a day eating while surfing the web. What a horrible thing we must do! 🙂
When returning to Beatitude, we took another refreshing swim and snorkel off the stern. This water is amazing! (Did I say that already?) It’s like having a 30’ deep aquarium in your backyard. We put on our masks and snorkels and gazed beneath us to see scores of sergeant majors, parrotfish, blue tangs, angelfish, and flounder, among other creatures. From the boat we watched schools of baitfish break the water’s surface only to be pursued by a large tuna which broke the surface several times himself looking for a meal. In the meantime, the large frigate birds swooped down on the baitfish from above looking for nourishment. When we had our fill of the water, Zim and Kim paid us a visit on Beatitude for another round of sundowners.
On Monday, Cindy and I joined with the Someday crew for a 2 or 3 block walk to rent 2-person scooters for the day. What fun! We made our way northward out of Kralendijk up the western coast of the island for a scenic ride full of beautiful vistas of the sea. Eventually we arrived at a rock formation known as “Devil’s Mouth” which we explored for a while. A little further up the road we caught our first glimpse of flamingoes in the wild. We’ve seen them in zoos and theme parks, but never in the wild. We would see them several more times throughout the day. They were beautiful!
Upon our arrival in Rincon (the other “city” in Bonaire), we made the serendipitous discovery of Cadushy Distillery. This is a local distillery which makes six different liquors (one for each of the Dutch Caribbean Islands), and various other spirits, including rum. They use one of the most abundant plant resources in the island for their spirits, the cactus! The cactus plant is combined with a fermented African grain (which accompanied the slaves to the island) and distilled. All the tastings were free. We purchased a bottle of their Premium Rum and the Cadushy of Bonaire (Cactus) Liquor. The liquor is a little reminiscent of limoncello and will make a great after dinner drink.
From Rincon, we took the long ride down to the southeastern corner of the island to pay a visit to Lac Bay, a large lagoon on the windward side of the island which is a windsurfer’s paradise. It is open to the year round trade winds, but protected from the sea by a low-lying reef. The entire lagoon contains depths of about 2 or 3 feet of crystal clear water over a sandy bottom. The view was strikingly beautiful. We ate an excellent lunch at Jibe City, a beach bar right in the heart of the windsurfing activities. Afterwards, we couldn’t resist wading out into the refreshing shallow waters of the lagoon to cool off.
Once refreshed, we were off to see the lighthouse on the southern corner.. En route, we also passed several obelisks of various colors. We discovered that these were placed for the merchant ships which would come for salt. Each obelisk represented a different grade of salt. The differing colors indicated where to anchor for that particular grade. Along the way, we also spotted more beautiful flamingoes wading in the ponds by the highway. And, finally, we saw the salt harvesting facilities run by the Cargill company. There was acre after acre of salt ponds in which the sea water is evaporated leaving the salt behind. The harvested salt was then piled into mountains of glistening white salt.
Soon it was time to return the scooters, but not before we had all deepened a skin shade or two from the hot Caribbean sun. Cindy and I returned to our vessel for another dip in the cool, clear, refreshing water in the mooring area. Then, we dinghied back to shore (a very short ride) for dinner at The Creperie (delicious!) and use of the free wifi available there. Our time in Bonaire was off to a smashing start!