Had it REALLY been five years since I'd been scuba diving? Our last dive trip was to the Galapagos Islands in 2004! Yikes! I better DO something!
The island of Bonaire had always been on our list. It's a very popular Caribbean dive destination, known particularly for its easy and plentiful shore diving. But while the diving might be easy once we got there, the getting-there was a different proposition altogether. Three different flights, through Dallas, Texas, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fourteen total hours. Unnnnhhhhhhhh. Just kill me now.
Mercifully, I don't really remember the trip. Perhaps because it was in segments -- three hours to Dallas, change planes, four hours to San Juan, change planes, two hours to Bonaire -- it wasn't as bad as if we'd been cooped up in one big flying sardine can the whole way. Mike remembers landing and getting the rental car, and I remember trying to find the condo in the dark (which we managed).
The inside of the condo was nice enough, with the required two bedrooms. It also had a very large bathroom with an open-design shower, and a laundry room with unfamiliar machines. It wasn't until the next morning that we could really check out the surrounding territory; it turned out we had a lovely location right on the shore with an awesome view from our third-floor balcony. Our condo building had a small sandy beach with a small pier, which most of the neighboring buildings lacked. We could even see a cruise ship docked back at the main pier in the town.
While we were definitely in Bonaire to scuba-dive, we planned to take it easy. We would be in the condo for twelve nights, so there was no pressure to dive, dive, dive, eat, sleep, dive, dive, etc.
The island wasn't a hotbed of exciting activities other than diving, but we managed to find some relaxing things to do. We drove around the island and discovered a burro farm. Or maybe it was a mud farm.
Other discoveries included the island's resident flock of flamingos in a nearby inlet, and a viewpoint at a rocky shore.
On another day, we took a hike down a dirt road that was a veritable forest of unusual cactus "trees". Along the way we met a few local residents taking in the sunshine.
Grocery shopping turned out to be an adventure all in itself. The island of Bonaire is part of the Netherlands, and apparently the mother country ships in all the supplies. So all the grocery labeling in Dutch. Unless an item had an easily identifiable picture on the package, we were perplexed. Laundry soap was a particular challenge; I finally had to ask a clerk for help.
And of course, no vacation trip would be complete without the shopping excursion to find a souvenir t-shirt.
One of the things I most enjoy about traveling is coming across unexpected delights, especially in the most unlikely places. Like these unusual-- but clearly understandable -- restroom labels.
Oh, yeah. Diving. That thing we came for. Turn the page, gentle reader.