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Bon Bini na Boneiru: Welcome to Bonaire!

April 24, 2004 - May 1, 2004

Bo·naire (bô-nâr’), n. an island of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean Sea off the northern coast of Venezuela populated by friendly inhabitants, exotic marine life, crazy divers and drivers, where you can eat conch and lizard, and practically see forever underwater. In other words..the most awesome underwater world I’ve ever been in!

Bonaire is an island in the Netherlands Antilles...history goes here. Description of land, culture, history and traditions

My trip to Bonaire was amazing. We stayed at Captain Don’s Habitat, a dive resort owned by Sea Rover Jack Chalk. Unlike most hotels on the island, divers staying at Captain Don's are allowed to dive 24 hours a day. The resort is thus appropriately nick-named "The Home of Diving Freedom." :) I had the chance to dive on many different reefs, each of which was abundant with tropical fish, gigantic sponges, coral, eels, worms and other invertebrates. The daytime was filled with diving and nightime was filled with fun. Dinner on the Habitat patio was accompanied by music, good spirits, and a show of dive lights that darted around. Their turqoise beams spotted the nighttime water, but neat as they were, they did not compare to the beauty of the environments I was exposed to on the island, both underwater and above.

On one dive, we dove down 97 feet to the wreck of the Hilma Hooker. A drug-packed vessel that anchored inside the reef, it mysteriously sank and was deserted just before the arrival of the Coast Guard. On another dive, I learned how fast starfish can move as I watched them scurry away from the beam of my light on a night dive. We saw a frogfish, a GIANT green eel, a sea turtle, and unexpectedly saw a pod of wild doplhins an and followed around many trunkfish and cowfish (who swim awkwardly but now are my favorite!) I got to ride on the back of Jack Chalk’s Harley across the island in an escort parade up to Rincon, Bonaire’s historic town and site of a huge three-day celebration of Queen’s Day. We went cave snorkeling, explored dry caves that had fossilized coral on the ceiling, saw flamingoes, pink salt flats, and slave huts, tried all different kinds of food, and ended the week at the Queen’s Day celebration. It was certainly a busy week. I learned about more things in Bonaire than I ever thought I would, but most important of all...

...IT WAS WICKED AWESOME!

Pictures

Exploring Bonaire above water

We stayed at Captain Don's Habitat and enjoyed the live music

My roommate Cynthia Butts and I shared the center room on the first floor

The dive site "1000 steps," luckily we were able to dive it from a boat!

The view from Rum Runners on Captain Don’s Patio at sunset

One night we ate at an Argentinian grill where the portions are so large that two whole chickens, multiple racks of ribs, and all sorts of sausage make up only half the platter (our plates are filled with just the garnishings)! It was filling and delish.

A fossilized head of coral on the beach

Bonaire is filled with cave sytems...here fossilized coral and stalactites cover the ceiling of a dry cave we explored below ground

We went snorkeling in a wet cave below ground as well

Ancient inscriptions in an above-ground cave

Chip and Cookie Cooper received an award for their involvement with the island

Rincon Day Celebration

Every year on April 30th Bonaire simultaneously celebrates the Queen's birthday and the Simidan Festival in the oldest town on the island, Rincon. Simidan, or the Harvest Festival, represents the work of the original local farmers who worked hard to support thier family and island through their trade. It commemorates a time where the whole island historically gathered to harvest the crops. Typically the celebration lasts a few days, the island practically shutting down preceeding and following the event. People come from surrounding islands such as Curaçao and Aruba to join in on the festivities. The prime minister and other dignitaries of the Netherlands Antilles also make an appearance. We were very lucky to be in Bonaire during this festival because we were able to learn about the history of the island through conversations with and preformances by the friendly locals.

I rode on the back of Jack's Harley in part of the dignitaries' escort to Rincon

Live music...

traditional dress...

and dance!

A cheerful church view

Group of slave huts on the (southern) end of the island, each huts is about four feet tall. Seven to ten men would live in one hut during the week to earn a living and would walk __ miles to Rincon on Sundays to be with their family.

Eating cabrito

Bonaire under water

All pictures cited with (A) were taken by Anker Berg-Sonne of the Boston Sea Rovers. All pictures cited with (W) were taken by Wilco, Captain Don's Photographer.

An anemone on a night dive (A)

A juvenile spotted drum hides in the coral (A)

Diving on the reef (A)

Propeller of the Hilma Hooker, decorated with coral and a purple tube sponges (A)

Dave, Pat, and I make a saftey stop after diving the Hilma Hooker-look at the vis! (A)

My favorite...the COWFISH (A)

Me in front of a head of coral underwater (W)

Purple tube sponge-they can groow to be six feet long (A)

Frog FISH!! (A)

Dave, me, and Pat (W)

...the last day of diving in Bonaire... (A)

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