The passage from Venezuela to Colombia is broken up by stopping at the
ABCs…Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao…noted for beautiful beaches, diving
and  tourist resorts. Approaching from the east, we encounter first Bonaire,
then Curacao (Ku-ra-sow), then Aruba.  Bonaire & Curacao are part of the
Netherlands Antilles. Aruba, previously Dutch, is now an independent country.
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Karel's Beach Bar to the left is a hub of
activity. It is the main dinghy dock for
cruisers. The moorings are located beyond
Karels to the right. The entire sea area
surrounding the island is a national marine
park. The fish and coral are abundant and
the number of dive and snorkel sites is
astounding.  We were able to dive and
snorkel right from the boat.
Downtown Kralendijk is clean and well laid
out. The paving blocked streets are lined
with colorful shops and restaurants. Since
tourism is one of the main industries of the
island, there is no lack of t-shirt and
souvenir items.
The most distinguishing features of the southern part
of Bonaire are the mountains of salt. Many of the
islands we've visited once produced salt, however
Bonaire is the only one that continues to do so.
In the past, donkeys were used extensively for hauling carts of salt from the pans to the waiting ships. Now they run loose and are part of Bonaire's
heritage. They are EVERYWHERE! Drivers stop frequently to let donkeys cross the street in front of them. Many times the donkeys wait at the
window in hopes of handouts. We learned to save apple cores and banana peels for just such occasions.
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s/y Nine of Cups
Bonaire Facts...

Capital/largest city: Kralendijk (KRAW-len-dike)
Population: 11,800
Size: 112 sq miles (24 miles long x 3.7 miles wide)
Official Languages: Dutch & Papiamentu
Currency: Netherlands Antilles Guilder (ANG) aka
         Nethaland Antilles Florin (NAfl)
         $1US = $1.75ANG
Major industries: tourism and salt
High Point: Brandaris Hill, 784'
Government: One of 5 Netherlands Antilles islands belonging
            to Holland.
Bonaire, the "B" of the ABCs, is a small boomerang-shaped island
and touted to be one of the best diving locations in the world.  
The official language of Bonaire  is interesting blend of Spanish,
Dutch and African.
The most distinguishing characteristics of the island on approach from sea
are the mountains of sea salt stacked along the shore.
While in Bonaire, we welcomed two sets of guests
to Nine of Cups: Fay & Doug Grimm, old cruising
friends from Maryland and the Brinkman-Davis’,
aka the B-D's (Marlys, Kent & Amy) , very old
friends from Denver.  Their visits gave us the
opportunity to view life aboard the boat and sailing
with new eyes. It also afforded us the chance to
explore the island via land vehicle for a change.
The northern part of the island is rough, hilly, arid
terrain and the location of Washington Slagbaai
National Park.  The southern part of the island is
low-lying with wetlands and mangroves and the
location of the saltpans.  Lac Bay, on the eastern
windward coast, is a premiere windsurfing location.
Washington Slagbaai Park in the north is a
13,500 acre game preserve. Above the
park's only entrance and exit.
A picnic lunch with the BDs under a divi
divi tree at the park entrance.
A view of Gotomeer…a salt lake and the
largest pink flamingo sanctuary in the
Caribbean, ~40,000 pink flamingos reside in
Bonaire’s 135 acres of protected area.
Ceru Bentana Lighthouse
The whiptail lizards, with their iridescent
turquoise tails, back and feet, provided
endless entertainment.
There were hundreds of them and they weren’t shy in
the least. As you can see, they enjoyed cookies a lot,
but apples seem to have particularly strong appeal.
Without a doubt, the best part of the park visit
was the host of animals and birds we saw.  
Whiptail lizards, iguanas, goats, pink flamingos,
parrots, trupials and more, delighted us
throughout the visit. The iguanas are colorful,
numerous and big…about 4-5’ long from snout
to tip of their long, striped tail. They’re herbivores
and enjoyed our banana peels as a snack.
The island is home to more than 15,000
pink flamingos and, in fact, there are
more flamingos here than people.
Bonairean Lora (yellow-shouldered parrot),
only found in Bonaire,  is a 10” green amazon
parrot with yellow face, head and shoulders
…they’re fast, shy and hard to photograph.
There are fewer than 400 Loras left in the wild
and though they’re protected, they’re in danger
of extinction.
Cargill Salt is one of the world's largest salt
producers.manufacturing about 2,000 tons per
hour for export use in water softeners,
chemical, industrial and ice control applications.
Windmills, though not the traditional Dutch-type,
are used to pump water from one saltpan to
another to aid in the evaporation and
crystallization process.
On the windward side of the island Lac Bay
is the home of Jibe City Windsurfing. We
delighted in watching brightly colored sails
zip  smoothly back and forth across the bay.
A language lesson in Papiamentu

Most Bonaireans speak English, but their native language is Papiamentu …a
mixture of 8 languages we’re told, but primarily Dutch, Spanish, English &
French.  With our limited knowledge of Spanish and Dutch, we determined
that the original Spanish language spoken here was transcribed by a
Dutchman. Hence many of the Spanish words are written as Dutch.

Bon Dia – Good Day                                        Bon Tardi – Good Afternoon
Bon nochi – Good evening                                Danki – Thank you
Bon bini na Bonieru – Welcome to Bonaire       Kon ta bai? – How are you?   
The week before Lent begins is the time for celebrating Carnival throughout the Caribbean.
Bonaire is no exception and although the festivities are low-key compared to the likes of Trinidad
and Rio, we enjoyed the parades and fiesta atmosphere.
Highlights of Bonaire?
  • Whiptail lizards eating from our hands
  • Salinas full of pink flamingos
  • Clear, turquoise water and swimming
    everyday right  off the boat
  • Friendly, friendly people
  • Papiamentu…a very new language
  • Donkeys everywhere
  • Visits from the Grimms & the B-Ds
The best times for transiting the western Caribbean to
Colombia are May and October. Having spent nearly three
months in Bonaire, we were anxious to continue moving
west to take advantage of available weather windows.
Curaçao is only about 40 miles from Bonaire, a good
downwind day sail and on the way. Come on along!