Sep 012011

After arriving in Bonaire, and a quick trip through immigration and customs and we headed to the taxi rank and grabbed the world’s largest taxi (basically a minivan) to our hotel.  Bonaire uses the US Dollar, so that made things much easier.  $10 and five minutes later, we were checking in at the Divi Flamingo Beach Hotel.  First impressions?  The staff basically seemed bothered to have us there, and every question was met with “I don’t know” or “I don’t think so” – definitely not a very helpful bunch.  The location was great, however, and the property was clean so I can’t really complain for a beach hotel. Perhaps the strangest part is that all of the water in the rooms – from the shower to the tap water – tasted very strongly of sulfur. Strange, but not that annoying.

Room was good, clean, and ice cold (very important to me in tropical climes) and the next mission was to find out about possible snorkeling trips. It took several phone calls and visits to various places on the property, but we eventually learned there was a 2pm scuba and snorkeling trip headed out from the dive shop for a very reasonable price…score!

We wandered the town for a bit looking for lunch but struck out every place we tried. It seems most restaurants are only open for dinner since the divers that come to Bonaire like to stay close to the hotel (and dive sites) during the day. We ended up on the hotel restaurant which turned out to be good because it was on a patio looking right over the water, and we got to watch all sorts of bright tropical fish swim by in the clear blue water as we ate.

After lunch it was off to the boat and time for the adventure. We went maybe 10-15 minutes out from the island over to a reef just off the island of Klein Bonaire just a few kilometers away. It was the two of us and four people doing scuba, and the dive master gave us a one hour limit off the boat. It was actually blast being out there, and I was amazed at just how much (and how far) you can see in the crystal clear water. The highlight came about 10 minutes before we had to finish up when we spotted a giant sea turtle swimming by. Was very cool…and then just a few minutes later we spotted a huge lobster hiding under a group of coral…very awesome!

We chilled in the room for a bit in the afternoon, caught up on e-mails, and enjoyed the complimentary Cava and Chocolates the manager had delivered for my birthday. While the staff we came into contact with were mostly quite indifferent to helping, the manager and the folks in the dive shop were absolutely awesome! I also took a walk near the water to see what other sea creatures I could spot, and ended up watching a group of crabs for a bit.

After polishing off the cava we decided to head to the beach bar for 2-for-1 happy hour 5 minutes before it ended at 7pm for some sundowners before heading to dinner. Matt had something called the Pink Flamingo and I had something similarly fruity that I can’t remember the name of. Suffice to say, when we headed to dinner we were pleasantly happy at this point!

Dinner was at a restaurant called It Rains Fishes which was about a 15-20 minute walk away. The whole island has just a few taxis, and we decided despite the fact it was 85 degrees or more and incredibly humid that we would walk it. Much easier with a bit of a buzz going on!

The restaurant was quite a contrast to everything else we saw in Bonaire, and was very lively and filled with Dutch being spoken instead of Papiamentu. It seemed very popular with Dutch expats (most of the waitstaff it seemed) and tourists, and was an interesting contrast to all the other people we saw on the island.

We started off with a very reasonable Portuguese Sauvignon Blanc, and a really tasty tuna and salmon ceviche. Definitely was a good choice. We both ordered a mixed seafood platter with the Catch of the Day (red snapper), calimaris, and some rather large gambas. I got mine in a garlic butter sauce, which Matt had his in a teriyaki sauce. Quite tasty….but I’m not sure we would have noticed otherwise at this point!

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