It’s the Caribbean. Everything takes time here. We thought we could do so much today and everything ended up being a rush.
Arrive 5am just as planned. J&A are supposed to show up at the Carib Inn at 9am, we are going to do our buoyancy check dive and cruise through the rest of the day. We all have a look around the premises and lay down to chill for a while. Short naps were the thing of the moment.
Place looks good both the island and the digs. Reef is just off shore, all the literature said that – funny that it actually is. Hotel is kept up and the rooms are perfect for divers – not too extravagant yet clean and maintained.
J&A get here and we all realize we need breakfast. It is not just the lack of sleep that is making us feel this way. We opt for the restaurant next door at the Divi Flamingo. We know it is there and it is really close. $15.00 each for a buffet breakfast. A bit much but none of us is going to argue. Food is good for all of us. Good thing too as it will be the last our stomach gets for a while.
Back to the hotel dive shop to get the low down on the local diving and get outfitted with gear for the week. Again the process takes a bit of time. Not quite to Caribbean standards but even though the folks are from the USA you will notice that they have lived in the islands for a long time and the temperature and humidity make things move slower. Both Bruce and Gary are extremely helpful and very pleasant to deal with. The impression of Bonaire being a good place grows.
Next, even though we were suppose to stop by the car rental place in the morning and fill out all of the papers for the cars that have been left in our possession, it is time to do our buoyancy check dive, a requirement before you dive any of Bonaire’s reef. The four certified divers head to the beach and into the water. J has weight problems and we get the picture as to why these dives are necessary.
First shore dive is awesome. The reef is good, there are quite a few fish, everything goes as planned. Everyone got their buoyancy close, swam to the roll over at the top of the wall, descend to 60ft., swim south till one of us reaches 1500 psi, turn about and slowly ascend to about 20 ft. and we see the bottom of the boat we had just left follow the compass bearing towards the shore and voila! we are at the dock. Simple navigation technique but effective.
Now it is time to go see the truck rental guy. No one can tell us where the office that we are suppose to go to is. And we are trying to get to the Rincon market before it closes at 4pm. Doesn’t look good as we circle the block again an again not making headway to the whereabouts of the mysterious Voyager Events Rental. Finally, after one of the merchants phoned for us we located the place and were able to complete the transactions necessary. John is an exceptionally nice fellow, Bonaire notches up another plus.
It is now 3:15pm, the Rincon market closes at 4pm. On the map it doesn’t look far and we know the island is small but boy it takes a long time travel a short distance on the map.
We’re there and with a few minutes to spare. Stop quick Debbie hops out and ask where the market is, don’t want to waste any time. We get direction to the supermarket. As far as the folks of Rincon know there is no market. I have just now realized it must be a marketing ploy. Why would anyone head to Rincon, a nice enough place mind you, unless every Bonaire internet site mentioned the, once a month, on the first Saturday of every month ‘Marshe de Rinicon’. We probably would have never gone there if it had not been for info we had collected off the internet. A bogus adventure, but an adventure none the less and why the hell else do we do things but for the adventure.
We stop at Bonaire’s answer to Costco and do our shopping. Its Saturday and Bonaire is an island. Everyone and their dog goes shopping on Saturday, most things arrive in Bonaire by ship in limited quantities and the people that shop on Saturday buy it all. So the pickings are slim, but we find enough to put together some sort of breakfast and a few snacks.
Now, 9 independently thinking adults must become of one mind a agree on a place to eat dinner. This again is the Caribbean and unlike the restaurants in North America (even the fanciest one), they do not prep everything in advance and throw it in a microwave so that you can eat in a short enough time that each table can be set twice a night, they actually cook the stuff here and it takes one long time. Are you starting to recognize a pattern here.
Amazingly enough without even being in the same hotel while Debbie and I were discussing dinner with J&A, A&R, S, B and J were deciding on exactly the same restaurant. Sometimes life is a suprise. So off to Chibi Chibi we go. Unfortunately, none of us had remembered that it closed at 3pm on Saturdays and they held a barbeque at the buffet. So we slide over to the buffet only to be told that there was no more room and we would not get seating for 9 for quite some time. The kind folks there suggested Richard’s down the street. One of the fellows offered to call ahead and see if there was seating for 9. Another check mark in the plus column for the friendly people of Bonaire. Bingo we are in.
Richard’s is a nice place with the deck out over the lapping waves. The boss is busy setting up a table for 9 as we arrive. It was a whole 5 minute walk from the Divi Flamingo. Richard spends time with our group and explains the menu. Tells us his USA base is Whitefish Montana and that he has spent a good deal of time travelling western Canada. Really amiable fellow, and one more tick in the plus column for Bonaire. At the end of the meal he served the entire table with complimentary ice cream and man, was it good ice cream.
So although we are going to have to adjust some of our goals about how much we are going to get done on this holiday, due to Caribbean time, Bonaire has made a first impression way beyond expectations . As with most places it is the people that will make or break the place, Bonaire will live by the reputation of the folks that make this place their home and on the first day here Bonaire’s folks are exceptional.