Sept 16, 2017
After a very long and unrestful night, we still had 24 hours left on the rental vehicle. Angie sucked it up, and decided the excitement of the previous evening would not stop the last fun day of driving around the island. We even had time to enjoy a crepe and espresso for breakfast in town. We met our new boat neighbors on Slow Down. It seems our purple with yellow flames on everything make us obvious.
Today’s agenda is to explore the Bara Di Karta region of Bonaire along its “Driving Trail”. We had never heard of this area. The only place we had been before is at the Weekend Lac Bar at the very tip of Lac Bay, the windsurfers’ mecca. The last time we were there with our friend Jon Osterman, we wanted to have some local cracked conch, but no one was around. So, we are interested in seeing of it is open.
We are really enjoying the regional maps Bonaire now has, showing sites and little tidbits of information, we would never have known about. Bonaire also has hiking and biking trails on the maps. The driving trail was again, off road, and pretty dusty, but this time, the terrain was relatively flat. The trails were marked, but at times, you really were not certain if you were in the right spot for the given Point of Interest. Needless to say, we never did find the “Longest Tree of Bonaire,” something Mark really wanted to see. Nor, did we ever find the golf course. We did, however, find the boulders deposited on a beach from a tsunami 30,000 years ago. One could hardly miss those. We also came to realized that the “plantations” were small farmsteads, not like the “plantations” you would see in the South in the US. We did not get out and hike Bara di Karta Hill. Angie was feeling ok, but not that ok. She still had areas that felt like burns and hiking was not sounding too great.
Unfortunately, the picnic area with the 3 tamarind trees to offer shade, had the trees, but they were dead with no leaves on them. We took a wrong turn and ended up by Maiky Snack, a little place in the middle of nowhere, but decided we really wanted to try our luck at the Lac Bay Bar. We were a bit too early for Maiky Snack anyways. We really enjoy the cactus fences everywhere. They are perfect, straight lines, keeping the goats in and the people out. Angie thinks this would be a great fence at our next home on land.
The drive to Lac Bay proved a bit difficult. We made a few wrong turns, but in doing so, found more flamingos in salt ponds, right off the road. I think we probably have our best flamingos in their natural habitat picture so far. Upon rounding the corner to go out to the peninsula for the bar, we were stunned by the sight of crashing waves washing next to the roadway. The waves were spectacular, and so were the crashes of the windsurfers trying to ride them.
The Weekend Lac Bar area is now built up like a park with a nice beach and views of the mangroves. The bar was serving panfried fish, fresh from the fishermens’ catch that day, but we didn’t want anything heavy and opted to have a couple of Amstels.
The resident pup was none too pleased that we did not drop any food from our table and decided to try its paw at the other tables. The scenery at Lac Bay is stunning and we enjoyed it thoroughly. We were hoping to get information about us bringing our paddleboards and kayak so we could explore the mangroves in the future. Unfortunately, you can only do it with a guide and use their gear, so that nixed the idea.
We then headed South to get back to Kralendijk. We really wanted to see the southern dive sites that are more shore dives, scrambling over chunky coral bits, and maybe a few sandy spots. Again, we got lost, but found our way back, once we realized we were close to the airport and Donkey Sanctuary and turned around. The Donkey Sanctuary is saved for another day’s trip. We have in the past “adopted” a donkey named Melanie and want to see if we can find her again.
Along the southern shore, we drove past the Willemstoren Lighthouse, yellow slave huts, and white slave huts. They pretty much look the same. The slaves were originally used to harvest the salt from the solar salt pans/ponds. The huts stand at maybe 6 feet tall at their peak of their roof, quite a tiny place to live.
The salt plant is still in operation today. We were graced with more flamingo sightings in the salt ponds, but they were too far away for any photo ops.
There is now a kite surfing area on the SW corner along the same area as the lower southern dive sites. I wonder if there have been any collisions between divers surfacing and the kite boarders?
The shore dives heading North pretty much look the same from the road. On Bonaire the dive sites are marked along the roadway with painted bright yellow rocks with the dive name painted in black. Park your truck on the coral gravel, staying away from areas that flood at high tide, unload, leave the truck unlocked and the windows rolled down with absolutely nothing that can be stolen inside (including sunglasses), strap on the gear, find your entrance through the hard coral, and then slowly descend on a gentle slope to Bonaire’s double reef system. There is typically coral at 30-100 feet and then further West, another reef starts at 75 feet, after a wide sandy ribbon in between.
The booklet, Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy, is indispensable for outlining how to approach and enter each dive site along with an extensive profile of what to look for and what you will see. We love being able to dive when you want and not on anyone else’s agenda. Bonaire makes it very easy. The only downside is the theft that is rampant at all of the dive sites. Our rental company said they will steal the battery out of the vehicle and the tires off of the trucks. Leave the windows rolled down so they do not smash them while trying to see if you have a pair of sunglasses or anything else to steal hidden from sight.
We ended up having a nice lunch at The Bonairian. It is a small resort on the water’s edge, not too far from town. People were snorkeling off the edge and it looked like a nice facility, besides the restaurant. We took another trip to Van den Tweel for anything we think we might need to pick up, but didn’t end with much. Back at Uno Mas, we cooled off in the water, this time with outfits that offered more coverage in case the jellies are still hanging around.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our few days of getting reacquainted with the interior of Bonaire!