On November 17, between approximately 04:00 and 05:00 p.m., Cynde Lee caught someone at the gate petting Grendel and Blijke. She called him "a nice man". I agree, nice man, indeed, because it was none other than I.
Thus begins my very first -- and long -- Bonaire Trip Report.
Day 1: Left Edmonton, Alberta in minus 10 degrees Celsius and snow, via Toronto for Miami. Smooth travelling all the way on Air Canada, "best North-American based airline of 2001".
Day 2: With Air Jamaica, "best Carribbean airline" via Montego Bay to Bonaire. Friendly service, plane less than 50% full, all luggage there with me. Am very impressed with Air Jamaica. Will fly with them any chance I get.
AB Carrental: new Toyota RAV4. Immediately attached a Canadian flag on the antenna to the amusement of a group of Americans who were watching me. My comment, "Otherwise someone might think that I am a Yank," caused howls of protest. LOL.
Off to Coco Palm Garden in Belnem and my spacious and secluded apartment "Luna Azul", home for the next two weeks.
At night, excellent seafood dinner at Coco Palm Garden (only for guests), prepared by Richard, trained as chef in Paris and former owner of the Beefeater on Kaya Grandi.
Day 3: In the morning, check-out dive with Frank of Photo Tours Divers, Caribbean Court, at North Belnem (Windsock = too crowded); then a guided fun dive at Salt Pier (Pink Bus). Fighting a bit with my new back-floatation, wing-style BCD, trying to establish buoyancy and proper weighting.
Later, shopping for groceries at Cultimara, 90 dollars worth, which lasted me for two weeks, except for a few perishable items.
Day 4: 09:00 a.m. Rescue Diver course video and theory with Emile at Photo Tours. Surprise, surprise: Bas is my class mate!
In the afternoon, stopped by the street cam at Jake's (see above) on my way north to explore the dive sites for the next day. Met Clifford, one of the park rangers at the gas station in Rincon. At night, again another seafood dinner with Richard in the yard at Coco Palm Garden, after a refreshing swim in the pool.
Day 5: Dove Ol'Blue and Karpata eith Fatema and Uwe, my Coco Palm neighbours from Karlsruhe, Germany. Had late lunch at Rose Inn in Rincon (goat stew), recommended by Clifford, the ranger.
Spoke English, German, French and Spanish -- all in one day. I like the international/European flavour of Bonaire.
Day 6: Sunday morning coffee with Sylvia and Hank at their place "Dos Iguanas" in the isolated hills of Montana (south of Rincon), with a splendid view of the east coast. Drove up to Seru Lagu afterwards and looked across Kralendijk and the island south all the way to the salt flats.
Rescue Diver activities (underwater searches, diver tows etc.) off Pink Beach with Emile and Bas in the afternoon. Also, a buyancy and weighting check dive with Bas. Got it figured out: down to 14 lbs. of weight and good control. Bas is an underwater magician! Found huge lobster (antennas longer than my arm) and his main "squeeze", a lovely female, as far as lobster go, under a coral rock, quite close to shore. Also, tumbled into some fire coral on the way back. Didn't know before what it looked like. Now I do! Still have the red spots and welts under my arm, two weeks later.
Day 7: Two boat dives, with Uwe as buddy, and Chris, husband of Jessie Arnacost ("Shoredives of Bonaire") as dive master and captain, at "Bonaventura" and "Sampler, Klein Bonaire.
Afternoon, shopping for the girls at home, Terez (wife) and Suzanne (daughter). At night, B-B-Q with Uwe and Fatema at our Coco Palm apartments.
Day 8: In the morning, cleaning the apartment and studying for the Rescue Diver course.
Lunch at the "Seahorse Cyber Cafe," on Kaya Grandi, a new place. Excellent special that day(fresh fruit juice, submarine, cake, coffee), all for for only NAF 15.
In the afternoon, more rescue practices and scenarios at the Hilma Hooker dive site (assisting tired and dealing with panicky diver at the surface, bringing unconscious diver to the surface, administering rescue breathing in the water, dumping equipment and exiting... tough stuff to do in surf and surge.
With lots more to come, including the November 25 Bonaire Talk Dinner, I rest and give you all a break, too.