Describing the scenic winding coastal road on the Northwestern side of Bonaire takes more than one blog. This blog is the second one on the motorbike tour I did with my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago, and in the first one I described a walkway I discovered. After this very nice distraction we got on the bike again to continue our tour. Our next stop was Tolo, the area where the ‘Old Blue’ dive site is. The road is going down toward sea level again, and the cliff on the right hand side bends land inwards. The road follows the shoreline. You can see this once was a bay area, the sea level must have reached half way to the cliff and scraped big holes out of the limestone rock.
At the end of the ‘bay area’ I stop at a place most people pass without noticing, a natural bridge. Maybe they don’t notice because there is no water underneath, but still it is a bridge. I intend to make some nice pictures of it today, so I transform into a mountain goat to get the best shots. Ineke, my girlfriend, stays behind to call the ambulance just in case the transformation is not successful. It turns out to be a very rewarding climb. Not only do I get nice shots of the back side of the bridge, but I also discover this spot has a nice panoramic view of the road we just came by. After taking the shots I manage to get down without breaking anything and we continue toward Karpata.
Karpata is the name of the plantation that once thrived here. Karpat means tick in Papiamentu, our local language. The Castor Oil plant gave the plantation its name: its seeds look like ticks. Unlike ticks the Castor seeds are lethal, containing ricin, one of the most potent poisons in the world.
Maybe that is why the plantation buildings are in ruins. Nature slowly takes over again, but it is still worth while visiting. Decay has its own beauty, and since Bonaire is pretty sloppy with its heritage there is a lot of beauty to absorb. The courtyard is paved with Staghorn Coral. It looks beautiful, but when I realize that Staghorn Coral now is almost extinct in the Caribbean, I wish my ancestors would have been a bit more careful with it. Walking into the buildings you go back in time, imagining how life on a plantation used to be. Or how it was for the marine biologists that used the buildings only 30 years ago.
After Karpata the coastal road gets wider, it is an access road to the BOPEC oil terminal. Before the terminal the road turns to the right, along Lake Goto, and gets narrow again. This is one of the first places the Arawak Indians settled in, and on the other side of the the hill we are climbing I can see why. Like me, the Arawaks must have been suckers for panoramic views. After winding up the hill we are rewarded with one of the best scenic views on Bonaire. The shallow Lake Goto is surrounded by green hills, has a number of tiny island and a slightly bigger peninsula. Of course we stop in the middle of the road and stare to indulge ourselves in this natural beauty. Then we go down where the road edges the lake. Usually there are plenty Flamingos here, but today they are off. Never mind, there are other places on Bonaire where we can see them.
The road winds up again, toward Dos Pos, the two wells that used to provide Rincon with water. Rincon is the oldest village on the island. This is where the Spaniards settled, when they discovered the island 500 years ago. They kicked the Indians off the island, and, afraid that somebody would do to them what they did to the Indians, they hid their village in a valley. Invisible from the sea. It took the Dutch 100 years to find them and kick them of, but we did it. I am still proud of it.
Rincon is a real local village. Riding downhill into it we know our reward is waiting for us. Rose Inn, a famous local place where we get ice-cold beers and a meal of Kabritu Stoba, the indigenous goat stew.