Trip Report Niki & Bob July 29-Aug 12.
AIR TRAVEL: First, United Airlines made us miss our Miami ALM flight to Bonaire. Then ALM did a heroic job of getting us there stand-by (24 hours late) despite being sold out for at least 3 more days. (Imagine being told that!)
But, the pendulum swung: ALM (during the week of “major disruption”) first “lost” our reservations, then left everyone sitting inside Flamingo Airport 6am-noon, then in Curacao (where there was practically a riot) until after 5pm, and made us miss connections out of Miami. Then United put a brand new 777 up and got us back to the Pacific Northwest (24 hours late). The airlines paid for meals and both airport-hotels voluntarily.
There are other sordid details, but as I discovered during these marathon vigils in the airports, stories about airline delays are a dime a dozen -- no, a penny a thousand -- and barely interesting even when they’re your own.
On the way down, teaming up with a couple out of the blue made this trauma tolerable, (thank you Chuck and Bev), and we later met for lunch at Zee Zicht. By the way, we experienced no crime this time, but these friends did. Some dive gear was stolen from the porch, and the gas line was cut on the rental truck.
Because of the day’s delay, I brought the big Sunday New York Times to Michael instead of the Saturday paper. Not bad.
SOROBON BEACH RESORT: Third time. Two weeks. Love it a lot. I described it in last year’s report, which can be found earlier in the Everything Else: Trip Reports thread.
Again enjoyed the other guests -- this time, met many returning, loyal people from all over the place. About 10 of us, still strangers, went for a day-trip on the Sea Cow water-taxi to Klein Bonaire for snorkeling, and looking back now, it reminds me a little of Freshman Week in college, an excursion designed to break the ice with dorm mates. We soon consulted in each other’s businesses, taught each other new sports (windsurfing), exchanged email addresses, and made the restaurant push all the tables together in a long banquet to bid farewell to some and celebrate a wedding anniversary.
Two weeks ahead of the trip, I contacted CaptJoe on the newsgroup. Coincidentally, he turned up in the other half of our duplex chalet. He kindly greeted us with cold beer when we straggled in bedraggled, late at night, 24 hours late. He and his wife were diving day-in-day-out, so we demonstrated the relaxed style of vacation: idle lounging punctuated by fun dives. They demonstrated the quick sandwich at Julio’s between tank fills and showed us Angel City, the beautiful dive at the double reef where the space between closes down. It was a fun connection.
WEB CAM: CaptJoe returned to the States first, so we arranged to be captured at the Front Door. His internet server was acting up, so we were lucky to get this one stiff pose, and it was too hot to loiter there long.
I should have parked the single-cab rental truck in view to memorialize it, with the dumpster-salvaged Xerox copier carton we used to keep dive gear contained. The downpours of rain a few nights made a sorry (soggy) sight out of that cardboard box, but we used it ‘til the bitter end. Coral Reef rented us the truck, with delivery and pick up at the airport, and it went without a hitch, although the tires were bald and not balanced. Might have gone to Washington-Slagbaai, but for those tires... Next time.
DINING OUT: KonTiki, still excellent. Went the night I didn’t have anything to cook and set out for Cultimara to find, Ooops, it closed at 19:00, not 20:00, according to a taped-on piece of paper. I just love watching the sunsets and the evening moonlight outdoors too much to bother to cook before dark. (And I think Bob loves my cooking too much...)
DIVING: All shore dives, (for me, numbers 38-49 of my short career). Bob (dive numbers uncountable) tried out underwater video (Sony hi-8 in an Amphibico housing). The heavy battery for the lights was a buoyancy and balance challenge, but there were some excellent pictures, including closeups of barracuda, scorpionfish, and dancing garden eels.
On tape, you can hear the parrotfish crunching coral, in between loud scuba breaths and bubbles. I learned that people breathe completely differently on scuba. And that not everyone coughs and gags periodically like I do, although I take it in stride. Weird.
Sometimes he left the video at the chalet simply to enjoy diving. Saw my first shark, a black-tip reef shark off Bachelor’s Beach, on a camera-less dive.
I searched diligently for seahorses without the aid of a local guide, to no avail. But because of focusing so closely I noticed various flamingo tongues, and a scale worm, new to me. Also saw a purplish Pederson cleaner shrimp at work.
Dove the Hilma Hooker wreck for the first time and really liked the fish nibbling on the hull. At places the current was quite noticeable. Dove some sites we missed previous years because of waves, such as Margate Bay area.
On a night dive, I got my first good looks at reddish sponge brittle stars, spotted spiny lobsters, and a big, beautiful sleeping scrawled filefish.
We adopted a lone diver and made 7 threesome dives, which was fun. She’s from Vienna, Austria, and came back to scuba 9 years after getting married and having kids. (Maybe she’ll post her report when she gets home...) She and I saw a free-swimming green moray eel, the size of which blew her mind. Her husband became an enthusiastic snorkeler in Lac Bay, and saw spotted eagle rays in shallow water close up. When we left, he was considering taking a resort course to try out scuba.
Even though I expected it, the shallow reef destruction shocked and saddened me. Also, loss of Pink Beach. We will not give up on Bonaire because, 30 ft. and below, the reef views are normal and the fish are plentiful. The redistribution of sand affected visibility in places, by comparison to the past, but this will eventually clear up. The water temps were great (82F), warmer than spring last year.
OVERALL, a great vacation. THE vacation we waited for all year.