Debbie and I debrief our trips to see if there is anything we can use in the future especially if we return to the area. Here are some of the things we came up with after our return.
The Carib Inn. It was an outstanding place to stay. It is a DIVER’S hotel. It is small, it is on the shore, has a small pool, and an on site dive shop. There is not much to do there except dive. The people there cater to divers. The dive masters expect you to be competent and do not coddle you. They do not expect you follow them like sheep and if you can extend your dive to 1hr. 15 you will not be hassled when you return to the boat. If you are a novice diver the folks will help out, if you ask, but you may feel more comfortable dealing with a more ‘full’ service operator. If you do not dive at all you may enjoy your holiday more at a resort that offers more creature comforts. Personally, I greatly appreciated the respect Debbie and I were given and would return in a minute.
Food. The island does not have much in the way of agriculture. Therefore, all of the food must be imported. So, be prepared to pay slightly more for your meals. Not much, but a couple of bucks more per person per meal. Debbie and I figure our budgets quite tight and our meal spending was under our budget but we made breakfast in our room each morning and missed a couple of meals. Anyway just be aware.
Restaurants. We went to several. The best overall restaurant was Richard’s. The food was good, the prices were OK and the service was excellent. Next on the list would be the Sunset. The food was OK, the prices OK and the service we got was very good. The Sorobon, across the island from Kralendijk, also had good food, OK prices and good service. The one I would avoid would be Bambu, the owner was not particularly nice to us and in fact turned our business away because we were a group of 9 without a reservation. There was only 10 or 12 people in her establishment at the time. We did not have a reservation at any time during the week and always managed to find a spot to eat.
Weather. The temperature in Bonaire was a constant 90 F. It should have been hot for us but there was always a breeze and it was a very liveable 90. It is this breeze that makes the windsurfing on the east side of the island so good. We arrived home to rain and 15 C. I am so cold I have to wear long sweats, a hoodie with the hood up and socks in my indoor Birkenstocks. Last night I had to find a touque to wear to bed. We’ll soon be acclimatized and 15 C will seem normal, too bad. (A touque (twok) is a wool hat to all but Canadians, but touque is the proper name and the rest of you folks should catch up with us.)
Tourist sites. For my part the flamingos are overrated. We saw a few, some standing in the water, some flying in formation. They are interesting but only as a sideline to the diving. The donkeys and goats held little interest whatsoever. The salt ponds were OK but again not worth the trip if that is your only interest. The slave accommodation at the south of the island was interesting strictly because of the size of the structures and the fact that those little dwellings were home to the folks that did a lot of work on the island.
Vehicle rental. Voyager Event Rentals did us very well. We rented trucks for the 8 days we were on Bonaire. We were met at the airport at 5am by a shuttle and dropped off at our hotel where our trucks were waiting for us. The shuttle driver had the keys and gave them to Debbie. We found the Voyager office the next day and did all the paper work. John the owner was extremely kind and helpful. We had to depart early as well so we left the trucks in the parking lot at the airport and they were picked up after we left. If you are going to shore dive you will need a truck and I would recommend Voyager to anyone traveling to Bonaire.
Re-entry into reality. We had a strange time at both the American and Canadian customs. The border guards had a personality.
We arrived at George Bush International, Houston and were completely taken back when we discovered an ‘express’ line for those of us with connecting flights. It is now possible to bypass the long line of people that are making a stop in Houston and stay behind the security wall. This saved us a tremendous amount of time. There were very few people that used that service. The customs agent was the most personable border guard I have ever met. I always assumed that they hired boring people with zero personalities for that job, but not only did this fellow talk he actually made a funny joke. We had a nice conversation albeit short and it gave us a good feeling about visiting the country.
Then to top off the day when we arrived at the Edmonton airport, the border guard that dealt with us was also a happy guy, the conversation we had was again short but was very pleasant. He wanted to know where Bonaire was and was pleased to have us give him a geography lesson. He made us feel like maybe it was good to be home.
Temperature aside it is good to be home. It will not be long until we are off again so a bit of the normal is needed.