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The historical business of Bonaire can be found at the south of the island where the Salt pans are located. When you’re there, the feeling of the sun and the wind makes it a really obvious place to develop such production. Along the coast, there are the remains of the slave huts when the commerce started in the 17th century, they are very tiny, and you can’t even stand in there. Despite the harsh history of the borough, the view of the surroundings with the different pans is staggering. You can see the various stages of the evaporation of the water and the concentration of the salt through the colors blue, turquoise, marron and finally pink, before the salt is extracted.
The sun is so hot, that despite the really strong wind you still feel very hot. We look for a place to go snorkel and swim, but in fact the beaches are not really friendly for beaching: we realise that there aren’t any long sandy beaches on Bonaire. We get our masks and snorkels and get into the water at Red Beryl . Down here, we did not find that much fishes, but we met with a lonely but photogenic barracuda.
We continue our drive going south east towards Sorobon. We get to the windsurfing area of Bonaire. We get lunch there and end our day on the sunbeds beers and cocktails.
Today is my first dive on Bonaire. Checked in with Dive Friends Bonaire and we go out on a boat. We go to Klein Bonaire on its south side, which is a 10 minutes ride from the pier. Water is 26C and we go for a maximum of 60 minutes dive. Ver cool and slow dives, the life was quite diverse, but I was expecting a bit more. We’ll see for the next dives.
In the afternoon, we tried snorkelling just outside our condo from the dive centre next to us. The dive site here is named the Cliff. Variety and quantity were not as good as some places we’ve been to on Curacao. We’ll try other places as well as in the Washington Slagbaai national park.
We ended up dining at La Cantina Cerveceria. This is a really good place for food and service, and they brew two beers there. We liked the way dishes were revisited but keeping the original gist. Booking is not option, but you can easily do that from their website https://lacantinabonaire.com/ .
In the morning, Jackie and complete a bit the research we’ve done prior to coming to Bonaire. It’s always better to adjust our finding and get a proper orientation when we get in the place. This is the place I stay which the closest to a dive center; it’s litteraly at 10 seconds walk of Dive Friends Bonaire. I’m checking in with them and get the marine parc tags.It’s mandatory here and you can see quite a lot of people of those tzars on the masks. The divers pay a fee of 45$ and allows you to dive and snorkel anywhere on the island. There is a cheaper 25$ snorkelers fee, but you will be asked for an access fee depending on the spot you go to. The divers need to pass a simple flotation test to make sure you are weighted correctly. As I’m going to dive for the first time with my new photo equipment, I choose to go with a bit more than I would go (3kg), I can always go back lighter when I get used to the control and the flotation of the TG-5 case.
We then hit into town to get a general impression of Kralendijk. First, it’s really small, the town consists of a few streets with shops. We get the breakfast in a place with a spelt of avocado! We got the caribbean version of the dutch tartine: that’s gorgeous! We talk to a lady sitting at the table next to ours, luckily she’s living on the island half of the year and we receive some hands on tips. We hear as well that there was until recently heavy shower. They are quite unusual for Bonaire this time of the year, but we can see now everywhere we go that the climate is changing quite a lot. During those talks, we’ve learned to fend off the inevitable mosquito attacks that come with moist tropical weather. We brought from Geneva some mosquito repellent but the ones we met here were not really concerned by them. One of the tip we’ve received was that only one repellent really works and it was totally different! We asked the waitress if we could get some of their spray, and magically all the mosquitos disappeared! We definitely getting some of the repellent named OFF as soon as we hit a shop. Another big surprise for me here, is that the island only uses US Dollars. I was not expecting that as Bonaire is still part of the Netherlands, hence the EU. When you get to an ATM, you can only withdraw USD, and they don’t use at all the Caribbean Dutch Guilders. In fact, you can see that most of the local shops in town live a lot on the schedule of the cruise ships docking right next to a square where merchants from all around the island have little stands. While we were looking around and got some ideas for some visits for our next days.
We wanted to find out about local markets and food producers. Jackie found Krusada, a Foundation that helps convicts and drug addicts getting back on their feet. As we were quite interested in what they do, we had a little tour of the compounds and explained to us what Krusada was about. They have programs to get them back into a less chaotic life by giving them tips on how to handle their daily life, give them a job to grow vegetables, work in a small car repair shop. They get as well a visible return, as everything they learned and put to use are marketed through the island. Krusada is a Christian community and their work weeks and days have rituals in accordance to their faith. We’re shown the various stages of their production and how they handle their green houses, and we can see as some of their people at work. We got some vegetables and fruits from their production, we’ll be back soon to restock.
To get a bit more of a bearing, we decided to go around the island, to have an idea of distance and the time it takes to go around on the north side. The first impression is that it’s much smaller than Curacao, but the surroundings are very similar; just everything is at a smaller scale.
We’ll go into more details probably in the next days.