A Diver's Paradise

Trip Start May 05, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Netherlands Antilles  ,
Sunday, May 16, 2010

It can't go wrong when the first thing you see when you land in Bonaire is its very pink "Flamingo International Airport". The second thing you see as you enter the city Kralendijk (if you can call five streets a city), is the huge amount on signs, driving plates and people welcoming you to "a divers paradise". We are definitely in the right place.
We rented a cute little car (which turned out to be a mistake, since most of the roads in Bonaire are partly dirt roads, completely dirt roads, or simply impossible), and dedicated our first day to exploring the island. We drove up and down roller-coaster like roads, surrounded by nature in all its glory. Although it is such a small island, the places to explore are endless. On one side of the island we found dense green bushes mixed with tower high cactus, on the other side we drove through surreal pink water pools of salt, decorated with flamingos and a perfect blue ocean.
 We drove and drove until we realized we haven't eaten in this island yet, so we made our way back into town and began our search for food. But unfortunately it was Sunday,and as our hostel manager said: "Bonaire on a Sunday is like 50 years ago - the island is sleepy and everything is closed". That statement turned out to be almost painfully true. Eventually, after meaningless driving back and forth around the one decent road of Kralendijk, almost at the point of starvation, we settled for an empty ice cream stand, eating a disgusting toast and then cheap chocolate from a near by Chinese super-market. But non the less, our spirits were still high.
We replaced the house on the ocean with a small apartment on a side road, 55$ a night seemed to be the cheapest option, but like most trips, the main purpose of the room was for showering and sleeping after a long day out, and for that purpose it was certainly enough. The difference in our prospectives was clear, while Gil got used to filthy little rooms in his trip to India, Shir thinks that hot water, a comfortable bed, a refrigerator, a cattle and towels are only merely basic needs.
 There is something exiting about exploring a new place: even if your going to stay there only for a few days, you get to find your favorite place for breakfast, the best rout to the city, the cheapest supermarket (the Chinese ones seem to be the cheapest everywhere in the world), and your absolute favorite sea food restaurant. We stayed for three blissful days of diving, dinning and hiking. We would've stayed longer, but vacationing in such a place turned out to be much too expensive for two students, even if we cut one meal a day and ate peanut butter and chocolate with a spoon instead. 
A bit more about the diving-dinning-hiking: We dove twice, in "Windsock" and in "Alice In Wonderland". When you park your car on the rocky shores before the dives, you notice all the cars around have open windows and doors. Why? Well, apparently even on a small island like this cars get broken into, and people just rather their windows stay in one piece. Not to be the odd car out, against every instinct, we left our car completely open, using a plastic bag to store the care key and credit cards we took with us to the dive so they wont get wet. They didn't. Although all the preparation, the dives were totally worth it. After a long day of diving we dinned at a water front restaurant. The place had some sort of a Spanish flavor, although the waiters were all dutch, and was so good that we declared it our favorite restaurant and came back the next day (but still, of course, cant remember its name).
On our last day we drove to the huge (island prospective) and beautiful Washington-Slagbaai national park. We entered with our non-jeep car, but still managed to drive and travel for hours. The park has amazing beaches, hiking trails, flamingos, salt pools, and, surprisingly a lot of wild goats. We couldn't take enough pictures, drive slower or stop more often to explore our surroundings. The day passed so fast we almost forgot we have a flight to catch that evening. Reluctantly, we made our way back, stopping to eat at the local and known "Rose's Restaurant" (vegetarian alert! french fries are your only option amongst all the beef-chicken-goat stews over there), and then drove to Flamingo airport. It was such a long and eventful day, and yet, we had no idea what was awaiting us.
As we approached the runway, we noticed a tiny, five seat plane-ish thing and laughed among ourselves weather that wreck could actually fly. But wait! F**k thats our air-plane! we squeezed our way in with the four other passengers, and the pilot that welcomed us to the flight and took off before we could run away. The flight was terrifying, Shir didn't open her eyes the whole way and Gil's heart dropped with every jump of the tiny air-craft. It was the longest 22 minutes of our lives, and the minute our pilot opened the doors of the plane we jumped out like our lives depended on it. Home sweet Curacao, we're back!
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