Monday, May 01, 2006

Ah, Bonaire

I started to respond to James' comment about where Bonaire is, and realized my answer was getting too long. It's hard to talk about a place that beautiful without getting a little wordy. So, I decided to make a whole post instead.

Bonaire is the little, middle island of the "ABC Islands" in the Caribbean: Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Just north of Venezuela, its reefs are a national park where commercial fishing is illegal. It's also a Dutch colony, so the food blend is very unique and tasty. You know, things like poffertjes with fried plaintains.

We went for a week with another couple from Austin. The tiny airport handles two flights a day -- one from Puerto Rico and one from Amsterdam. There were no jetways, and two airport employees -- for baggage handling, ticketing, security, escort to and from the plane, etc. And that makes sense, since it's a small island. You can drive the complete coast in about 45 minutes.

And the diving. Breathtaking. Wow.

We dove 3 dives a day for a week, and I didn't get enough. The water is so clear and a perfect temperature for easy diving accessible from the shore. The coral was full of life -- parrotfish, tons of other brightly colored fish, various sea snakes, sharks, groupers, barracudas, crustaceans of unknown name, and these little animals attached to the coral that were light feathery things that would retreat inside themselves when they felt water rushing past them (never did figure out what those were called).

Besides diving tourists (which is a big industry there), Bonaire is a large producer of salt, and the salt fields are surprisingly interesting to look at. The sea water is introduced into pens that look a lot like rice paddies, and the water is evaporated and moved to shallower pens until the salt can be scooped up with shovels and machinery and cleaned and packaged. I was surprised by how red the water gets as it gets denser (but I suppose that's why the Red Sea is red).

And there you have it. Bonaire in a nutshell.

1 comment:

James said...

Wow. Thanks for your in-depth (har-har, I couldn't resist) response to my question. Bonaire sounds like a beautiful place, and about my speed for vacationing. Someday...