Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Day 9 Bonnaire Dutch Antilles


A Pub Quiz question could possibly ask you to name the capital of Bonaire - Kralendijk; and then as a tie breaker ask you the language spoken there - Papiamento.  Long articles have been written about the origins of the language which perhaps is most simply (but possibly over simply) stated as being derived from African and Portuguese with some influences from American Indian, English, Dutch and Spanish.

Google Earth: Bonaire, an island municipality of the Netherlands, lies off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean. It’s an acclaimed diving and snorkeling destination whose reef-lined coast is protected within the Bonaire National Marine Park. Beyond its rich marine life, the island shelters lizards, donkeys and hundreds of birds within the beaches, lagoons, caverns and desertlike hills that comprise its immense Washington Slagbaai National Park.

Currency: United States Dollar

Continent: North America

Population:16,541 (2012)

We arrived here after dusk and the Minerva made the most careful of docking at almost a snails pace.

Minerva in Bonnaire

Officially, this island is Dutch and Dutch is the first (or second) language. Other languages spoken and learnt here are Papiamento, English and Spanish.

Bonaire Welcome

Christmas Train

A Christmas Train was waiting hopefully for customers when we got off the ship. This was perhaps the only sign of rather naff tourism that we saw here.

Dutch influence is seen around the town in its colours

Bonaire Highstreet 001

Bonaire Highstreet 002

Dutch sign

and its signs and street names.

Old Mannikin

Some of the shop displays seem to belong to a different era and they have yet to learn to use the apostrophe.

The Apostrophe

Nature Walking Trail

This Eco-friendly tour is both ecological and cultural. Enjoy beautiful, peaceful scenery and wonderful photo opportunities on this leisurely country walk. Your tour begins as you embark on a scenic drive to the North of the island where the walking starts. After a short briefing, follow your guide on an hour-long nature walk through dirt trails where Candelabra cacti stretch to 20 feet tall and Mesquite trees canopy the path. During the walk be sure to look out for donkeys, goats, iguanas and a variety of birds that are native to the area. Along the way, stop at the local goat farm for a peak at the goats and end your walk in a small cultural park with a refreshing homemade lemonade or tamarind juice. Learn how charcoal and limestone are made and how these were used in the past. On the drive back to the ship, stop at a pond in the hopes of spotting feeding flamingos and enjoy a beautiful view of the water front street and the visiting sailing ships.

The numerous cacti is one of the main memories we shall have of this island. They seem to thrive everywhere and are well suited to a place which has a major water problem with a significant lack of rainfall.

Cactus Forrest

Much of the roadside is lined with cacti of various heights.

Cactus 001 

Candelabra Cacti grow in the form of a tree,

Cactus tree

and despite looking a bit under the weather, we were assured that this one was still growing.

Cactus Fence

Cacti are planted to form fences, a fence which would surely keep out the most determined of trespasser.

Cactus Spikes

Their spikes are very sharp and strong. Some have barbs on the end to ensure they stay in whomever walks into them.

Christmas Cactus

This is a variety of the Christmas Cactus and is somewhat bigger than that which we have at home.


The Agave also thrives well and hence Aloa Vera is readily available.

Country track

Down a country track, we came across a Goat Farm

Goats Cheese Sign

which we were told was struggling to survive despite producing some wonderful cheese. Unsurprisingly, there were numerous goats there


Goats 001

because Goats thrive in this type of harsh environment.


There were a pair of Mockingbirds under a nearby tree - these conveniently presented themselves to me who normally is the most useless of bird spotters.

Tourist Trees

Scattered around the landscape are “Tourist Trees” (aka Indian Trees)


so called because they go red and their bark peels in the sun.

We see more of Bonnaire when we depart than when we arrived once we are castoff

Castoff Bonaire

(the cast offers were promptly picked up by a boat if you were wondering how they got home)


The harbour side shows the results of significant financial investment

Bonaire 001

and relatively large cruise ships come here during the season 

Bonaire 002

although the ability of this small island to cope with thousands of cruise passengers at one time, must be questioned.

Bonaire is an interesting island which we were told is superb for diving. It seemed a very peaceful island and we were told that its very small population, meant that there was no crime because everyone knew everyone and what they were doing. The island is very arid and water is a problem and, it had just come out of a very long dry period.

For more information, the wikipedia entry is the most comprehensive and accurate which we have found.

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