Life on the Island

Aug 8
Today we took a great trip today on the Woodwind here in Bonaire. This is a guided full service snorkel trip from a catamaran. The crew was super friendly and knowledgeable; the two guides as well as the onboard photographer were the crew as well and certified as scuba Instructors, even the captain was also a Dive Master.  The other family that was on the boat with us had an age range from 7-8yr olds, up to mom and dad there with grandma. Everyone had all of their specific needs for the trip easily catered to.

This was a very good trip out to Klein Bonaire where we did drift snorkeling and saw so many turtles we actually lost track of the exact count. As soon as we would point one out, someone else was pointing to another, then another, and so on.

For a pretty low price point, we did a 4 hour sailing trip that included Klein Bonaire, 2 drops into the water to snorkel, snacks, soft drinks, water, juice and even an open bar, plus snacks, and a nice lunch as well.

Since our 3 friends are leaving tomorrow and cannot dive, it was truly a great way to spend their last day here with us.
July 10 - Washington Slagbaai Park
Today Hannah woke up tired and sore from all the diving. We decided to take a day off and head up to the north end of the island for the big park. The park is a natural desert habitat and a major protection area for STINAPA. All of the locals talk about this as a great place to go and experience Bonaire museum and desert life. We packed a lunch of non-refrigeratables  - and things that would not melt then headed off.

Plaque at the Indian site
Before we got to the park, Hannah and I decided we wanted to see the Indian Petroglyphs that were in the desert rocks. We wound our way up and eventually found a faded sign on a remote desert road saying we were on the right path. At an event we went to last night we met a very nice woman who is both a marine biologist and archaeologist. She did her thesis on these markings and the culture of early Bonairian people - so we thought is would be cool to go see it.
Marca Indian Petroglyphs

The markings are very high up (about 12-15ft) off the ground - and there is a metal grate over them - but they are there. It was pretty cool to see the markings, and think a bit more about the people who were here so long ago.

We left the markings and using a very general map of the island headed further north. We saw that we were to pass some windmills, which were pretty easy to find. This end of the island apparently is pretty good about collecting the trade-winds that blow in off the ocean. The power is insufficient to really keep everything up, but it is a nice supplement.

There is a law on the island specifically to not harass donkeys. Nope not kidding. They are out and about and roaming freely. Sure enough we saw them just wandering abound doing their little donkey thing. We had to at least grab a picture -- it was too much to not. After all there were windmills and a donkey... it was too much to just let go without thinking of tilting at giants.

We meandered through the desert some more and eventually made it to the park. The nice person working the gate informed us that there were two paths in the park. The long route (2.5 hours) and the short route (1.5hrs). He said we could decide once we were in the park as there was a split in the path. We opted for short. The thing that failed to register for us were the words "natural desert habitat". We had just spent roughly 2hrs crawling through the desert for the petroglyphs, and windmills etc. We also failed to realize that once you were on the path and in that it was a 1-way road, so in is in. And oh yeah - the roads are brutally rough. I do not suggest this trip unless in a truck or other type of 4x4.

Flamingo at Oceanside outside Slagbaai Park
We had hopes to eat lunch by a lake with a flamingo that would rival a view we had earlier before we entered the park. Most of the ones we saw were pretty far off in the salt flats.

There is a lot of natural beauty in the desert itself with the cactus life, different kinds of birds and lizards and random seascape views that fall away into the ocean.

We ended up finding a stunning view for lunch, and after snapping a picture or two we settled to eat lunch with our feet just at the cliffs edge. We were so caught up in watching the ocean that we did not see that our lunch spot was crawling with a pack of lizards. When I reached back to grab something to eat, a half dozen small lizards were fast approaching us and were within arms reach. Hannah says I screamed -- which made her scream and jump forward. (I prefer to think it was more of a bellow to ward off attackers... but it was a bit of a squeal.)

Had she jumped just a little more - she could have been going for a swim. After throwing a few scraps of bread to distract them, we decided we could eat lunch while driving out of here.

As we were only 30-40 minutes into the drive on this 1-way road we knew we had a long way to go. Hannah was holding my camera so it would not get banged around - but she became worried it was going to bounce out the window from the rough roads. Seemed like a legitimate concern. As I stopped to secure the camera I got a quick glance at a huge pair of wings spread outside the window. I quickly took the camera and started shooting. It turns out that we happened on a trio of Northern Crested CaraCara feeding on a baby goat carcass. The wings I saw was one leaving as I scared it off.

One of the birds stayed to eat while the other left. In fact the one that stayed kept making an eerie noise as it stood on the carcass and craning it's head back- clearly it was telling me this meal was not mine.

As you can tell from the picture - this bird is the size of a small goat. It spent some time on the ground with goat in beak, dragging it deeper into the desert scrub. I was clearly not going to pursue or try to take it as a quick source of kabritu stoba. Not knowing if the birds killed the goat, but certainly knowing there were 3 when I showed up and I only saw 1- I was reminded of Jurassic Park and that raptors hunt in packs.

We had seen enough natural beauty for one day. We were finished here. Nice park. I wish there was an easier way to get out once the journey began.
Day-To-Day Life on the island Part 1

So today Hannah and I discovered the laundromat. Let me start by saying I was unsure how this whole thing was going to go. There are two laundromats on the island, and apparently none of the rental houses have a washer or dryer in the house.

We bought our laundry soap- drove to the nearest of the two locations with our basket of clothes. I was a little surprised to find that it is $9 for a large load of clothes and $5 for a small. Drying was an additional $7.50.

While we were there I asked the nice lady working the counter what she did for fun on the island. As she is not a scuba diver she said that she will occasionally go to the beach and swim - or otherwise just spend time with her son. I asked if she goes to any parties, nightclubs or anything - and she looked and me very funny and just said "We don't have any of those here. We just relax."

That being said Hannah and I kicked back in the air conditioning with the laundry watching Telemundo soap operas in Spanish.

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