© 2012, 2017 Rex Jaeschke. All rights reserved.
With it being winter, I'd looked at the possible warmer destinations reachable directly from my home airport, and settled on the three southern Dutch islands just off the northwest coast of Venezuela. I planned two days on Aruba, seven days on Bonaire, four days on Curaçao, and then two more back on Aruba. Together, these islands are sometimes referred to as The ABC Islands.
[In December 1991, I visited the three northern Dutch islands, Saba, St. Marteen, and St. Eustacius. According to Wikipedia, "The Caribbean Netherlands collectively refers to the three special municipalities (officially public bodies) of the Netherlands that are located overseas, in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The territorial grouping is alternately known as Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba or the BES islands. Although part of the country of the Netherlands, the special municipalities remain overseas territories of the European Union at least until 2015." So, Aruba, Curacao, and St. Marteen have some other, special status.]
Official Name: Aruba; Capital: Oranjestad; Language: Dutch, Papiamento; Country Code: AW; Currency: Aruban florin (AWG)
[Diary] I'd booked my hotel via the internet; however, when I arrived, the owner was out for at least an hour and her mother wasn't able to check me in, although it wasn't clear why. So, I stripped down, sat at a table in the shade next to the pool, and started reading "Seven Years in Tibet", by Heinrich Herrer. A nice breeze wafted through the palm trees surrounding me. Sometime later, the owner called me via the hotel phone to say that there was a complication. The previous occupants of my room had failed to check out, and she had no other rooms. So, she said she'd make "other arrangements" for me. And she did, but it took some hours.
[Diary] I settled into a hammock in the garden and read my novel until I thought about eating. It was then that I discovered that while I was engrossed in my book, the mosquitos had been feasting on my arms and legs. The restaurant was an open-air space under a very large thatched roof, and had friendly staff. I ordered a bowl of tomato soup and some Dutch snacks involving sausage. It was all just like Grandma used to make, and hit the spot! Total cost was only US$10.
Back in my room, I opened the window and door to let the breeze come right in while I worked on this diary. I decided to have a quick shower to wash away the day's perspiration, and that's when I discovered that there was no hot water. I don't mean the hot water taps gave no hot water; I mean, there were no hot water taps! Of course, given the temperature outside, a cold shower was fine. Afterwards, I read some more until lights out at 11 pm. Although I didn't finish up quite where I'd planned to, the detour wasn't unpleasant, and may well have left me in a better situation. C'est la vie! Always have a Plan B, even for Plan B.
[Diary] At 8:30 am, my driver and guide arrived to take me for a tour. She was most informative and took me to several lookouts (lighthouse hill, water tower hill, and natural rock formations), to ancient lava beaches, an old, very tiny Catholic church built in the middle of a cactus patch, and a donkey refuge. Along the way, we stopped to have some local ham and cheese snacks and coffee, then later on, some cold drinks. On the way home, we stopped at a supermarket (most of which are run by Chinese) where I bought some emergency rations: several liters of milk, some nuts, and a chocolate bar. I also managed to get a complete set of local coins and the smallest denomination banknote for my currency collection. All told, we were gone more than four hours.
Back in my room, I settled down to several tall glasses of cold milk while I brought this diary up to date and tended to some email. Afterwards, I went down to the pool and took up residence on a lounge chair in the shade. After a bit of reading, I spent 30 minutes swimming and doing some water aerobics to strengthen my aging knees. Then it was back to my novel. As far as I could tell, all the guests I saw were young people from The Netherlands. So, it was Dutch being spoken all around me. Late afternoon, I got into writing mode, and settled down at my laptop to proof and write essays for my monthly blog. That effort was quite successful.
[Diary] In anticipation of the mosquitoes coming out to feed early evening, I'd put on plenty of repellant, so was able to have my room window and door wide open while I lay on the bed reading. Unfortunately, the light bulb in my room was so dim, I read for 10 minutes before I realized I had my book upside down! [Don't you just hate that when that happens!]
Official Name: Bonaire; Capital: Kralendijk; Language: Dutch, Papiamento; Country Code: AN, BQ, NL; Currency: US dollar (USD)
[Diary] At "The Lizard Inn," my home for the next 7 nights, co-owner Rene took me to my room, gave me some information and a quick orientation, and we agreed that I'd formally check in the next morning. I unpacked a few things and then stripped down for the short walk into town for supper. My hotel was located in a quiet neighborhood only five minutes' walk from the sea and there were plenty of streetlights and little traffic. Once I reached the promenade, I turned left and walked another 10 minutes to the so-called downtown. A gentle breeze blew and many pleasure craft of all shapes, sizes, and prices bobbed up and down at anchor just out to sea.
I stopped at a number of restaurants and looked over their menus. With almost all food being imported, prices weren't cheap, so I kept on looking. Eventually, I found a great place, Paradise Moon. Everyone was eating outside, but most tables were occupied. The waitress asked how many were in my party, and I told her it was just my imaginary friend and me. She smiled, and led me to stools at the bar where she made room for both of us! I sipped ice-cold pineapple juice while I considered my options. I quickly settled on the spicy, shredded pork tacos with black beans and wild rice. The waitress gave me some of her secret habanero pepper sauce to liven it up a bit, and was it H-H-HOT! Each day, the staff makes ice cream, so I had a bowl of vanilla, and it too was great. In fact, the whole experience was wonderful, and by the time I left with a doggie bag of leftovers, I'd picked out dishes for at least two more visits.
[Diary] Having arrived after the shops closed the night before I was unable to buy any supplies for my kitchen, so I'd ordered a catered breakfast. At 8:30, I sat under the large open-air thatched-roof hut in the center of the yard, and minutes later, Annemieke (the other co-owner and Rene's partner) came to tell me she'd serve my breakfast there. There were plenty of fresh bread rolls, ham, cheese, jam, juice, and hot tea. The occupants in the room next to me had assembled their own breakfast, but they ate with me in the communal hut. Two hours later, we'd had some very interesting conversations. They were Friesian [the former Kingdom of Friesland became part of The Netherlands 150+ years ago], and he was a crane operator who had worked on oilrigs, windmills, and mostly large and exotic projects. He worked a month on and then had a month off. I mentioned how much I liked the Friesian flag, at which point the wife went inside, and brought me a present, an eyeglass-cleaning towel in the colors of that flag. I gladly accepted it.
At the office, I filled in a bit of paperwork to become an official guest, and I was inspected by Max, the very large chocolate-brown Labrador who "guarded" the place. After I scratched him a few times, we bonded a little, and he gave his seal of approval. Back in the Netherlands, Rene had been a detective for 20 years, but his passion now was scuba diving, so Bonaire is his Paradise. He and Max go swimming in the sea every morning.
I had expressed interest in diving, so Rene sent me to a place nearby where they would give me 10% discount. I signed up for a 3-hour "Discovery" session the following afternoon to see if I might like to take some lessons. There I sat in the shade of the verandah and chatted with an American man who'd moved there some years ago, and a young woman who was studying travel management in The Netherlands, and was working as an intern on Bonaire for five months as part of her course.
Back home, I set up my laptop in the communal hut and took care of quite a bit of personal and business email while listening to several albums by Enya and Andrea Bocelli. I also filled out several detailed forms required by the dive shop before they would let me participate. A stiff breeze blew all afternoon and, occasionally, guests drifted in and out to say "Hello". The young maid who cleaned my room was from Poland, and came from near my ancestral home area (Poznan), which I'd visited last summer. We chatted a bit and I shared some of my coconut cream cookies with her for afternoon tea. Annemieke was busy painting some outside walls. All in all, it was a very pleasant and productive afternoon.
[Diary] At 1:30 pm, I set off for the local dive shop and my test dive. Richard, formerly from the UK, was my instructor. I started with a video that explained to me my equipment, safety rules, and basic hand signals. Then I had a 10-question quiz, which I aced. He discussed a number of things and answered my questions. Then we suited up: boots, wetsuit with short sleeves and legs, weight belt, buoyancy vest and, finally, a single tank. We carried our fins to the water's edge across the narrow street in front of the dive shop. As I wear prescription glasses, I needed a facemask that allowed me to see. Fortunately, Rene had one at the hotel, which he lent me, and that was a really good match for my eyes.
I have to say that the first 20 minutes were "touch and go", as I was not at all comfortable. It turned out there was a lot to remember, and while it sounds silly, every so often I forgot to breathe and got a bit panicked. Plus, breathing in and out of one's mouth only can take a bit of getting used to. I finally broke the initial fear, sank to the bottom some eight feet down, relaxed, and worked on my breathing. Then I managed to practice purging my regulator as well as removing it, locating it behind my back, reinserting it, and clearing it. I also managed to purge water from my mask. Things were going okay, but not great. The water was very clear and there was plenty of activity below, including a school of quite small fish, some others up to 6" long, a couple of squid, and then came a monster fish more than three feet long. A nicely colored Angelfish also went by me.
As we moved out to deeper water, I had trouble with my buoyancy and as I'm a poor swimmer, always trying to swim with my head out of the water, I had great trouble swimming downwards. Also, the deeper I went, the more pressure came on my ears making them ring quite loud. Of course, I forgot to practice my pressure equalizing technique. To be sure, Richard was very encouraging and was never more than a few feet away from me at all times. Although an option was to swim out to a reef and go deeper, I declined as I felt I wasn't anywhere near ready for that, so we went back to shore, swimming under a boat and around a group of divers who were sitting on the bottom practicing some techniques. Near the end, I noticed that I was biting down extremely hard on my mouthpiece.
As I tried to get out of the water, the full weight of the gear came to bear, and it was hard standing up. Both Richard and I knew that I was no natural "water baby", but he was very encouraging. Halfway into the experience it was quite clear to me that diving was not my "cup of tea". However, it was worth the try. It's often just as important to know what one does not want to do in life, as it is the opposite. Once I stripped off my gear, I showered, dressed, paid my bill (about US$85), and headed back home, with both ears blocked. 10 minutes after I got back, the dark clouds opened up and let fall a short shower of rain.
[Diary] I went to visit Rene in his office to have him help me rent a car. Within minutes, he'd arranged for me to be picked up and taken to the rental office. 10 minutes later, a Dutchman arrived and we drove off together. He gave me a not-so-gently-cared-for Japanese SUV and we walked around it noting all the small dents and rust spots. His wife took care of my paperwork in the office and soon I was on my way. It was a 5-speed stick shift. I'd started with a quarter of a tank of gas, so the first thing I did was to add US$25-worth. At US$1.34/liter (US$5.10/US gallon), it wasn't cheap, at least not by US standards. I noticed that the car was equipped with an altimeter and a compass, and it puzzled me why I'd need either. On the way back to my hotel, I stopped off at a bank and coaxed cash from the machine. I lathered up with sunburn cream, had a small snack and drink, and packed my stuff to go driving for the afternoon.
I decided to cover the southern half of the island, and within 10 minutes, I was down beyond the airport, going along the southwest coast. The main highway was barely more than one lane wide. The whole coast had a reef and there were literally dozens of snorkeling and diving spots. All the beaches consisted of mostly smooth pieces of coral. There was little sand anywhere. The first 50 yards of the sea out from the beach were that classic turquoise color you see in all the travel brochures for tropical islands. Few people were about.
Quite a bit of the island to the south is dedicated to salt ponds and there are a number of "slave huts" there where the slaves lived that harvested the salt back in the 1850s. The ponds are quite pink due to the bacteria that live in them. A small freighter was docked and a series of conveyer belts went to the dock from inland more than half a mile. And just as I pulled up to have a look, the conveyer started up and I watched a steady stream of salt pass by and be loaded into the boat. The belt ran just above the ground until it reached the road, at which point it went up and over a bridge and then out to the pier. There were quite a few large pyramids of salt waiting for an excavating machine to load them onto the conveyor. A number of brown pelicans fished as I sat there. There was not a tree in sight except for a few palms planted by some buildings. Hence, there was no shade.
I came across a guy kite boarding, which involves a short surfboard and a parachute and harness. A bit further on, I came to a kite school where several more people were out trying that sport. Parked there was a big old bus that functioned as a mobile snack shop. It had all the basics except ice cream, the one thing I was after.
In places, there were small pools between the coast and the road, and they contained many mangrove trees. At the southern tip of the island, there was a lighthouse, and I stopped to walk around it. It was being renovated, but was still in operation, working on solar power. While I was there a couple of young Dutchwomen from Utrecht arrived on their bicycles and we chatted for some time.
As the east coast is open to the Caribbean Sea, the waves were much higher and many beaches had lots of flotsam and jetsam, mostly plastic trash. One piece was the door from a full-size refrigerator! I came upon some lakes in which a number of bright pink flamingos were feeding. [In the center of that part of the island there is a large flamingo reserve.] A series of short windmills with long tail fins were working hard in the wind to pump water from an inlet of the sea into the salt ponds, the level of which appeared to be about the same as sea level.
One of the most popular places to visit is Lac Bay, a huge and shallow lagoon protected from the open sea by a long reef. It was the perfect place for windsurfing, and people were doing just that by the dozens. The water was only a few feet deep and a light blue. The beaches there were quite sandy. I parked in the shade of some trees in a place with a good look over the action although I saw little, as I got engrossed in a new novel. Occasionally, I sipped pineapple juice. It was another hard day in Paradise!
From there, I drove a bit further up the east coast until the road turned inland heading for the main town, Kalenji. A couple of speeding drivers tried to run me off the narrow road, but I managed to avoid them, as well as the herd of goats and a second one of sheep that were grazing near the road. Very quickly, I got into thick brush with occasional tall cacti. A small lake had lots of flamingos feeding.
As I neared home, I spied the big, new, Dutch supermarket, so I stopped in for some emergency rations. I'd been without potato chips for nearly a week, so I rescued a large bag of those. However, despite them being my favorite brand, they fell short of my expectations. The place had pretty much everything you'd find in a supermarket in Amsterdam, and while some prices were decent, others were outrageous. For example, a liter of vla (Dutch custard) was US$5.50, and although I'd been salivating over the prospect of finding some, once I saw the price I lost interest. However, I did find 100-gram blocks of chocolate with hazelnut, and five blocks just happened to fall into my basket. And as I was leaving, I found that each customer was being offered two free packs of bread rolls, so I took those and gave them to my hosts.
Back home, I set up my laptop out in the communal hut, put on an Enya CD, and had a snack and a cold can of Pepsi. It was just the thing after a hard afternoon of touring. It was overcast much of the day with a strong wind, which kept things cool. I worked on my diary catching up the past two days.
[Diary] I headed north up the west coast, and pretty soon the road narrowed to one lane only although there was traffic in both directions. After the flat, featureless, and undeveloped south the day before, I rose a bit into hills, covered in dense brush with cacti towering above, with pockets of houses here and there.
My first stop was at "1,000 Steps". Although there were stone steps carved out of the side of the cliff to get down to the water, there were far fewer than 1,000. I met a couple who'd just seen two very large turtles swimming further along the coast, so I scampered up along a path to see if I could find them. No luck, but I did see a huge fish. It was at least five feet long and with a big girth, and it was mostly bright green. It was buffeted about among the rocks below me by the waves that crashed in. Off the coast, a boatload of divers was getting instructions for an open-water dive.
At each stop, I parked my car in the shade with the windows down, and one time I came back to find a cute frog had jumped aboard, so I took him a few stops further up the road. I'd seen many small iguanas, especially some with bright blue stripes, but today I saw some that were at least three feet from nose to tip-of-tail. There were a number of lakes and one was a flamingo sanctuary; however, no birds were about.
It was paved roads all the way to the entrance of the national park. I paid my US$25, which bought me a 1-year admission. Mostly, it helped the conservation effort. The unpaved road was one-way and I could choose the 1½-hour or the 2½-hour route; I chose the shorter as the roads were so poor in places. I didn't need an extra hour of that kind of driving. I came across a lake with many flamingos with their heads underwater feeding. Next came some large iguanas, a goat, and a good-sized bull. The brush was very thick and all the cacti had many, sharp needles. In places, the road was in such bad condition I thought I was driving in Washington D.C.!
Eventually I came out to the northwest coast where I stopped at a couple of places to look over the sea from the 20-foot cliffs. At the final beach, I pulled up in the shade next to an extended local family picnicking under some trees, and I got a great musical concert from their sound system. I started my next novel, a western I'd picked up at a thrift shop. I walked along the beach to find cacti growing right up to the edge of the cliff overhanging the water.
At the park exit, I looked at the small, but informative museum before heading back to Rincon on a road made of concrete. This town was the first on the island, settled by the Spanish some 500 years earlier. Many of the houses were gaily painted in yellow, orange, green, pink, and purple. From there I drove along the northeast coast through thick brush. Dark clouds threatened rain all the way, and given the pools of water by the roadside, it had just rained in that area. Finally, light rain fell and along with the cloud cover and rain, the wind felt great as it came in one window and went out the other.
By the time I was home, it was 4 pm, and I'd had enough of driving. I felt like I'd had a complete aerobics workout while sitting—or should I say sliding around—behind the wheel. Light rain misted as I pulled up at my hotel and setup my laptop in the communal hut to update this diary. I was winding down, as the next day I'd be moving on. After some time on my computer, I lay on the couch nearby to read my novel. Soon, rain started to fall quite heavily, so much so that it started dripping through the thatched roof, right onto my laptop. Fortunately, it was a smallish drip and I shut down my computer rather quickly and took all my stuff to my room. The rain kept coming down for 15 minutes, so I stayed indoors after that, especially as the mosquitos came out to feed.
The first time I'd eaten at the Paradise Moon restaurant, I picked out meals for my remaining visits, so the anticipation of my "Last Supper" there had mounted. Soon after 7 o'clock, I hopped in my car and drove into town to feast. Imagine my surprise to find that damned place closed! [Don't you just hate that when that happens!] Well, nothing else could compare, so I found a Dutch fast-food place and sulked my way through some chicken strips smothered in peanut sauce. Back home, I sipped a wonderful café au lait while finishing my novel.
Official Name: Country of Curaçao; Capital: Willemstad; Language: Dutch, Papiamento, English; Country Code: CW, AN; Currency: Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG)
[Diary] The rental car desk was busy with another customer, so I got talking to a man sitting next to me. He was from Brazil, but didn't speak English; however, we got by in Spanish. A customer finished his paperwork to get a car and left, but minutes later was back as he had not been given any keys. We all joked that he'd only rented the car and that the keys would be extra! Then it was my turn. I got the agent smiling especially once she learned that there was just my imaginary friend and me going driving. She thought that was very nice that I'd take him/her/it out for the day.
[Diary] The one tourist brochure I'd grabbed at the airport actually had something useful in it, and that was information about my favorite American diner, Dennys. Yes, there was a Dennys in town and it was only a mile or two from my hotel, so I went off to find it. Things were picking up indeed. I hadn't intended to eat, but wanted to checkout their hours and to look at the menu selection and prices. The menu looked just like one back home and the prices looked pretty steep, but I confirmed they were in Netherlands Antilles Guilders (NAF). "Since they took credit cards and I was already there, why not eat something", said the voice in my head. So, I ordered a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a Grand Slamwich: toast containing scrambled egg, ham, sausage, cheese, and other secret ingredients. A side of hash brown potatoes accompanied that. Well, the soup was fresh and steaming hot, just like Grandma used to make. It was almost a meal in itself, so I had a small part of my breakfast sandwich, taking the rest with me. My waitress was friendly and very efficient, so I tipped her well. When I asked if there was a supermarket near, she showed me on the map and then took me outside and pointed me in the right direction.
[Diary] I packed a few things and headed out for the afternoon. I soon got the hang of my little car and was putting it through its paces, careful not to go much over the 40 km in-town speed limit, although, frankly, I seemed to be the only driver doing that. I headed north and west along a decent highway for a few miles before taking a major road west. Halfway along that it turned into a series of patches on patches on patches, and was quite r-r-rough. There was plenty of greenery and some hills with the occasional stand of tall cacti towering over the brush. I was headed for what the map said was a lighthouse, but I ran into the security gate at the oil refinery instead. The friendly guard showed me a flashing light on a short pole nearby, and explained that that was now the navigation aid. There was no actual lighthouse. So, I walked back to my car, but as I put my key in the ignition, it sounded its alarm rather loudly. I figured out how to switch that off and tried again. Three times, it refused to let me start the car insisting each time that I was a car thief. By pressing all the buttons on my keychain in some random order, I managed to convince the electronics that it was okay to let me start the car. Bloody computers!
From there, I backtracked to a sign that said a beach was nearby. Quite a few cars were there and they charged admission only for divers. Inside, they had a large array of nice deck chairs in the sun and under a large canvas roof. A waitress in her bikini went from chair to chair around the beach selling drinks, but there was no pressure to buy anything, so I sat in the shade for a couple of hours reading my novel. The beach was quite sandy and people enjoyed swimming and playing. The skies were quite dark at times and light rain sprinkled now and then. Eventually, a heavy rain shower came and everyone scrambled in under the canvas roof. Here they were at the beach, but they didn't want to get wet! A PA system piped enjoyable music to a large speaker near my chair, which made it a very pleasant afternoon.
After I left the Kokomo Bar beach, I took another exit, into a sleepy village, and I drove the back streets to see how the locals lived. In one area, I came across an inlet in which many pink flamingos were feeding. Fifteen minutes after leaving there, I was back at my hotel having a cold drink and working on this diary. The day definitely turned out much better than it had started.
[Diary] Around noon, I headed out into the bright sunshine. I drove north and west to a small town with a brightly painted and large church. It had a cemetery surrounded by a high wall, but I found a side gate that was unlocked, so I strolled around. All the graves were above ground in large crypts. Perhaps the ground was too stony to dig. Nena Sanchez, a former Miss Curaçao and now a well-known artist had her gallery in an old plantation house nearby, so I stopped in to look just as light rain fell. All her things were brightly colored and with simple lines and patterns. The old house has been restored and looks down over the flamingo sanctuary that now occupies the former salt ponds where slaves had harvested that commodity in former times.
I followed the main road and soon ended up at the entrance of a gated, upscale private community, so I turned around and backtracked to an unmarked side road. That led me through heavy brush to a beautiful, secluded bay with sandy beach and turquoise water all the way out. Some 50 people were seated in deck chairs out in the sun or under small thatched huts. Some resident roosters, hens, and very small chickens strolled around among the sunbathers. I found a shaded picnic table and sat down. I read some information about the island and made notes about future travel and life plans while I watched swimmers and snorkelers. More rain fell, and as the holes in the roof of my hut were quite a bit bigger than the raindrops, a few drops splattered down on my book. However, the rain went as quickly as it came and soon the sun was back out. Behind me, a tree full of parrots chattered incessantly, and an army of small ants paid me a visit.
[Diary] I went out in the hot sunshine and wound up the rubber bands on my little clown car, and off we raced into the downtown area. Right near the water's edge, I spied a spare spot on the street and pulled right in. At the end of every batch of parking spaces, there was a solar-powered kiosk at which one could buy a parking permit. I asked for English mode and followed the instructions inserting my credit card and paying for five hours. That took me right up to 6 pm, the time at which the meters stopped charging. The total cost was less than US$5, which I thought was decent.
Downtown, there is a 300-yard wide channel that goes inland into a large maze of waterways for cargo ships and tankers going to the big oil refinery. As I walked to the rail overlooking that channel, a large tanker was being pulled through by two tugboats. As I watched, I got talking to a retired couple from near Toronto, Canada. Behind the tanker came an enormous cruise ship. It was Italian and had been moved from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean for the winter.
Ordinarily, the way people cross the channel is by the Queen Emma floating bridge. [Emma was the current queen Beatrix's great-grandmother.] However, as shipping demands, that bridge is driven open by swiveling on a hinge on one end, and pushed against one side of the channel. I watched that happen several times, and it was quite impressive. The whole structure and its 15 supporting "floats" were made of wood. And passengers could stay on the bridge while it was opening or closing. At times, there was so much water traffic the bridge stayed open for 45 minutes. During those times, two ferries took people across free of charge. (I tried both ways of crossing.)
The buildings on both sides of the channel were painted in bright colors and truly looked like a picture postcard. Things were neat and tidy. I walked along a side canal where there was a fresh fruit and vegetable market and some stalls selling souvenirs, which, no doubt, were made by prisoners in China or some other far-off place nowhere near the Caribbean! The place definitely appeared to cater to the cruise ship passengers. Apart from the ship that arrived while I watched, another one (from the US) was already docked just outside the channel at the Megapier. As a result, most of the people I overheard were tourists speaking a multitude of languages.
I stumbled on the island's government center, which consisted of a 3-story set of stone buildings built in 1769. They were painted light orange with white and green trim, and surrounded a large yard that had trees and some small gardens. The flags from The Netherlands and Curacao flew over the Governor's office. Between that and the sea was a long row of very thick stone defensive walls, which enclosed many former storage areas and powder magazines. These had all been turned into specialty stores, and when I went through one arch out to the seaside, I found myself in a series of up-scale restaurants with tables on platforms hanging out over the rocks and water.
By the time I got back to the channel, the bridge was open again, so I rode the ferry while chatting with a couple from Detroit. From there, I went to the old fort and climbed up some battlements to look down into the courtyard full of date palms shading people eating outdoors in restaurants that now occupied the place. Back at the channel, I found a shaded place, and sat and read while watching more water traffic.
I'd rightly figured that Aruba and Curaçao were far more touristy than Bonaire, so was very happy to have had half my stay on the latter. And as is often the case while traveling, I mix work and play. That said, doing business on a laptop under a thatched roof in the Caribbean in winter somehow doesn't seem much like work.
Bucket List: Having had a good look around each of the ABC's I've no compelling need to go back.