We started today knowing very little about Bonaire, but now we know what a spectacular and beautiful island it is, and how we would love to visit again someday! We didn't dock until 12:00pm noon so we had a little bit of time on board before hand. Also, we woke up super early, much earlier than expected - must be getting used to the early mornings!
We went to the shops on board and Poolie bought his white sunglasses and bought a long sleeved navy and white striped shirt as well. He is also a sweetheart and bought me a Swarovski necklace that looks like an apple - it's super cute. We went to play Bingo in the morning - I played, Poolie had no interest really so he brough a book. I was 1 number away from winning a prize but someone else won first. So, I lost today, oh well!
We sat on the balcony as we arrived at Bonaire, docking in the town of Kralendijk. There were many small brightly colored buildings up to a certain point, and the rest of the area is all scrub and cacti, as we learned later on. The island is relatively flat compared to the hilly and mountainous islands that we have already visited. We got off the boat at 12:00pm and met our tour, "Discover Bonaire" (booked through Princess) and boarded the bus.
We had some great seats at the front of the bus. The tour guide was fantastic, a very sweet and knowledgeable woman. She told us what it is like to live on the island, along with some personal stories. Bonaire has close ties with the Netherlands, and the official languages are Papiamento and Dutch (learned at school). The crime rate is very low - everyone in Bonaire takes care of each other like a big family, especially helping the children. Everyone in Bonaire has a job and health care can be subsidized by the government. It sounds like a great place to live!
Bonaire is an island of great beauty. We drove along the ocean and there are many places to dive with hundreds of species of fish and coral reefs to be seen. They also take great pride in preserving their nature and natural wonders, on land and in the sea. The main thing to notice when driving around the island is the abundance of cacti, aloe, and shrubs growing wild. It is an amazing sight to see! People also make fences out of rows of cacti, which is such a great idea. There are many caves in Bonaire, on land and underwater. Some caves can be seen above land and the rock formations are from when the water level used to be higher and these rocks were underwater. Now, the water level is quite a bit lower.
Our first stop was Goto Lake, an old salt pan that became a lake. We saw many flamingos here. When we got out of the bus, Poolie and I walked down the road for a little ways for a spectacular view of the lake, sparkling in the sun. There was a small island in the middle that a man apparently owns, and we could hear a baby goat crying out really loudly - so cute!
Although we only saw a couple, there are many donkeys that roam wild in Bonaire. The donkeys are well cared for and protected by the Donkey Sanctuary.
Next, we passed through the Rincon Village, where many proud natives of the island still live, although they live around the rest of the island as well.
On to the Washington Slagbaai National Park. We stopped just at the entrance to the park - it had a whale skeleton put together on display (created by some students on the island), as well as many cacti and old stone/wood buildings to show how the old buildings were constructed.
Inside the information center was a small museum devoted to the nature of the island. From the gift shop, we purchased a small handcrafted art piece made by a local artist of the salt flats, some postcards, and patches of the Bonaire flag.
We continued on to Scru Largu, a peak with a full view of all 4 corners of the island. There were also several little lizards with blue and green markings scurrying around, and I got one to come right up to my hand - it licked my finger! Very friendly little creatures!
We then returned back to the ship. It was a great tour and made us want to come back to the island for more!
After returning to the room for a short while, we got off the boat again to look around the shore. We went to a small craft marketplace where the locals sold their wares. Poolie bought me a unique necklace, handmade by Bonaire artists - a circular delicate clay necklace with a flower in turquoise and white painted on the front. Next, we picked up two wooden Christmas ornaments of an owl and a saucy-looking turtle. We visited a few shops and I picked up a beach bag / purse.
We talked to a nice local man who had a craft table about the wildlife and he informed us that you could see big fish close to the shore - well, he was right! We walked along the shore - beautiful coral beaches - and you could see big parrot fish right at the shore up close! Amazing to see! We walked along and I took pictures above and under the water.
A funny story - we thought we saw a parrot fish underwater so I stopped to take some pictures. After snapping three photos, the water calmed down and I was able to get a closer view - of a Coca-Cola can! So, my parrot fish was actually a pop can - pretty funny :)
We saw this long red fish that we hadn't seen before, schools of smaller fish, and tiny hermit crabs crawling all along the walls at the shore! What a gorgeous island Bonaire is, so full of sea life, we can't wait to return!
We boarded the ship at around 5:00pm and checked the dinner menu - for the Chef's Table dinner night, there were no vegetarian options. We opted to eat pizza and french fries for dinner tonight (with beer and strawberry margaritas) and instead of dressing up, we went for a swim. We swam in the Terrace Pool at the back of the boat while the ship left the port, so we got to say goodbye to Bonaire from the back of the ship.
Now, we are headed for Aruba - the captain announced that we are going full-speed ahead due to a medical emergency on board. We will actually reach Aruba around 1:00am tonight instead of tomorrow morning! The ship is gently swaying back and forth even though the water doesn't look very rough - just the speed we are travelling at is making the ship a little bit rocky. It will be soothing when we go to sleep! Oh! Alvin left us a towel dog today wearing Poolie's sunglasses! Under the sunglasses were two red eyes, made with marker on scotch tape :)
Here is a video from Bonaire: