|Giving it plenty!|
We approached at 7am, having lost yet another hours sleep. From the panarama of the gym, I could see the low-lying island, which rises to a mere 700' at its peak. Beautiful white coral beaches and a small settlement, with red-roofed houses and small hotels.
We walked up the shore in one direction for a reccy, past brightly-coloured, turquoise and yellow old sea-front shacks. Everything is so bright and cheerful here- the yellow, orange and turquoise, the bright blue sky and the blue sea, with the white sand patches of the nearby island of KleinBonaire in the distance. We saw some liitle green parrots, posing calmly in a tree, a local man gutting the large fish he'd just caught and cleaning them in the sea. The indigenous people speak Papiamentu, but most seem to flit between, Dutch and English or Dutch and Spanish.
After a draught Heineken, we strolled around an art shop, and then the local market. The Dutch people who have settled here and the locals have established an artists cooperative, selling only locally made and hand-crafted gifts, from decorated gourds, famous little "black mama" dollies, jewellry and painted postcards. No-one was pushing you to buy, the minute you raised your eyes, so you could browse and admire the skilled craftsmanship, and stroll calmly around. I bought a gourd Xmas tree decoration, with the features of a turtle burnt into it, and a palm leaf, which the artist had cut from a plant in his garden, and painted to look like a flying fish.
Later we hired a sorkel for $8, paid $10 each to use the facilities of the DiviFlamingo resort- a small development with showers, a bar and lots of sunbeds. The snorkelling was some of the best we've done- hundreds of brightly coloured fish, large parrot fish, some with beautifully marked scales, blue and yellow tangs, 2' pipe-fish (some of the largest I've seen), wrass, a puffer-fish, hiding in a cave, an octopus, boucing curiously along the sea-floor. The best experience yet of being in the water. I loved this tranquil. laid-back place, quite different to the more in-your-face tourism of some of the previous stops. But then there's not the same poverty as in Guatemala, and the culture and attitude to tourism is different to Mexico, who seem to see you as dollars coming ashore!!
|Queen Victoria in Bonaire|
|Snorkelling about 200 metres from the ship|