As I am sitting at the computer killing time, a pastime even for old people, I type one of our future destinations into the search bar and see what comes up. I use a different tag, like Bonaire or Bonaire diving or Bonaire tourism, each time so I do not end up with the same 24 sites. I peruse the stuff that is listed and save the sites that are interesting, or may be of some use, to a file in my favorites. Some time closer to the trip I will go through the websites one by one and glean the information that will be of use to us. The information may be of things to do or places to visit, sometimes it is of a more practical nature, like how to acquire a visa or how much the departure tax is and how it is to be paid. We keep a “real” file folder for each of our future destinations. It gathers the piles of paper that accumulates. I write down each of the pieces of info. I have gather on the outside of the file folder. Then if I think the electronic file could be of some future use or I want to discuss something it contains with Debbie I keep it, otherwise I delete it and get rid of the clutter.
Our trip to Bonaire is one month out and I have spent the last couple of days going through my Bonaire file. Here’s what I found. The order is random as that is the way it comes up and the information I keep isn’t necessarily connected in any way.
Bonaire, the boring stuff. The main ‘city’ has a Dutch name, not easy for us English speakers to imagine how it is pronounced. So, Kralendijk, is pronounced Crawl-en-dike. The tap water is potable and “is some of the best water in the world”, this is good as we will drink it and do our part by not contributing to the plastic bottle island that is developing in the middle of our oceans. We carry travelers cheques instead of a credit card. The reason’s we will discuss in another blog, but what it means we have to know the banks that will cash American Express travelers cheques without a fee. The only bank in Kralendijk should do so and it is open between 8:30 and 4:00. We should be able to make it. Stores are generally open 8:00 to noon and 2:00 to 6:00. The island uses Atlantic Standard Time, which is the same as EDT. Tipping is 10 to 15% but review the bill as some restaurants add a “service charge” so no tip is necessary. The departure tax is $20 US so if you have to leave keep some cash on hand. Further to that, the web site said that if your plane ticket was purchased after Oct. 01, 2010 the departure tax should be included in the price of the ticket. We did purchase our tickets after Oct. 01, but I cannot find evidence that the departure tax has been paid so I think we will keep $20 each on hand, unless of course we need an excuse to stay. All jokes aside, I was once short cash to pay the departure tax while trying to get on a plane out of Mexico, the lady took what cash I had and gave me the all important piece of paper. I don’t think any country really wants to keep a bunch of cash short tourists.
Bonaire, the good stuff. About a year ago several of our friend’s expressed an interest in learning to dive, they had the idea that we should go south and go on a diving trip. It sounded like fun so Debbie and I, being the experienced divers, started to research possible destinations. After sometime on the net and discussions with the crew at Subsea Experience, the dive shop we utilize, we thought that Bonaire would be ideal. It offers excellent diving and is does not require a vast amount of expertise to dive, great for our novice ensemble. Our preliminary searches indicated that people do not go to Bonaire unless they dive. In other words, there is not that much else to do and fortunately it does not attract the Caribbean holiday crowd. BUT, by spending a couple of hours on the web I found there are a few other diversions that should keep us occupied. Two of our traveling companions windsurf and kiteboard so they will be spending some time on the windward side of the island pursuing those activities. We all ride bikes. There are bikes for rent and a few miles of road that can be explored which qualifies as another diversion. Bonaire is one of the places where flamingos gather and they can be viewed in vast numbers at several spots. It is also possible to rent kayaks and paddle thru the mangroves for an afternoon. The thing that interests me the most is a once per month market that takes place, on the day we arrive, in the town called Rincon. We will not be able to dive that day anyway, we are taking the red eye from Houston and I don’t want to dive on minimal sleep, so I will definitely be attendance at the market. I was also able to find a few reviews on some of the shore diving sites. I will look for more but I think we should be able to determine a few ‘must see’ sites that we will take in. I got the names of a few restaurants to try and a few of the local dishes to try; maybe, iguana soup doesn’t really appeal to my senses but they say it is good.
It should be a busy 10 days. Who said, you go on holidays to relax????