Bonaire from the air

When I started this blog, I already confessed that I am a sucker for scenic views. I love being on an elevated point with a breathtaking view below my feet. What I did not tell you yet: there is nothing like the scenic view from a small airplane flying at an altitude of 1000 feet/ 300 meters!

Bonaire is an island of unexpected possibilities. So it happened  that I was in the Little Havana bar with my friend Gijs, and after quite a few beers he convinced me that I wanted to learn how to fly. On Bonaire. There was an FAA flight instructor on the island, but he did not have a plane. No worries mate! With a couple of guys we bought a Cessna 172, founded the BonAeroClub and started to learn how to fly. Flying is easy, nothing to it, but the theory is a bitch! But I managed and now I am a certified pilot.

I love flying over Bonaire. The trade winds make you take off to the east, and right from the start you have a great view over the mangroves. The water of shallow Lac Bay shines in different shades of blue and turquoise. The southern part of Bonaire is flat. In these flat lands, Cargill operates the biggest solar salt works in the hemisphere.  The colors of salt lakes are unreal from the sky: blue, turquoise, all shades of pink. On the south western shore you see the grid of the ancient salt ponds. Only to be seen from the air. They dwarf in the much greater ponds of the industrial setting we have nowadays. The slave huts are next to them. A bit further you see the kite surfers flying, and you are grateful they do it at a much lower level.

From this angle the fringing reef is very clear. The dark blue of the deep and the light blue of the shallow terrace that surrounds the entire island. You can see why Bonaire is popular with divers and snorkelers.

My house is on the hill that separates the southern lowlands from the elevated northern part of Bonaire. When I fly alone, I always check my garden from above. Pictures taken at different times in the last couple of years show how fast everything grows on Bonaire if you give it enough water.

The best time to fly is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The low sun casts a fairylike light on the red roof tiles and the colored walls of the houses of Kralendijk, the main town of Bonaire.

When I am up in the air, enjoying the beauty of Bonaire, a feeling of happiness comes over me. Some times, drinking a bit too much in a bar ends up in something very good.

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Rincon Day

As long as the Dutch Kingdom exists (we started 1813, not that long ago), Bonaire has been part of it. For most of the time (since 1890) the kingdom has been ruled by queens. And they like to celebrate their birthdays worldwide, or at least as wide as the kingdom stretches. So on April 30 the whole kingdom celebrates Queens Day.

The whole kingdom? No, not the whole kingdom. A little village in a faraway corner of her realm resisted the royal pressure and started its own Day: Rincon Day, some 22 years ago. I don’t know what caused it; the Bonairians are pretty loyal to their queen, but maybe the macho culture caused this act of rebellion against a female king. Anyway, Rincon Day has been a hit ever since. People from all over the Lesser Antilles come to Bonaire to enjoy live music, folkloric dancing, meeting each other, eat and … drink.

Now there are different ways of getting to Rincon from my house in Kralendijk. I can go by car (dull), or join the 10 km run that starts at 7 in the morning and ends in Rincon (fatiguing), or join the Bonaire Bikers Club on their parade to Rincon.
Now bikers all over the world know, that riding a motorbike means you will have an accident; you will fall. You just don’t know exactly when it will happen. That is why all over the world bikers use protective clothing and helmets.

All over the world? No, not all over the world. A little island in the Caribbean resists common sense. Bikers here do not wear helmets or heavy clothes. The feeling of freedom with light clothing and the warm trade wind in your hair is much more important! And we have a maximum speed of 40 kilometers (25 mph) in the residential areas and 60 outside, so who cares…

You probably guessed my choice how to get to Rincon for the last couple of Rincon Days in a row. Join the parade! It is great to join the other bikers in a tour over the island that ends in the centre of Rincon.

Members of the Bikers club drive Harleys. My Yamaha is affably tolerated for the occasion, but it is clear I don’t really count. When we park the bikes in Rincon, spectators look at the bikes admiringly, but not at my Yamaha. I know my place, and join the celebrations. Rincon day is even bigger than Carnival in February or the Bonaire Day in September and everybody is having a great time. I chat with friends, help Rincon in the effort to get rid of all Polar beers on the island, eat excellent Kabritu Stoba (goat stew) and look at the colorful costumes of the dancers.
When the parades start I see this is a family day. The drum band has all generations, the youngest must just have learned how to walk! And later everybody walks behind the trailers with live bands.

When it is time to go it is already dark. Extremely careful I join the line of cars going back to Kralendijk. Thank God everybody is driving slowly and defensively on this dark road tonight. I survived another Rincon Day.

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Bonaire Jeep Safari

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Only part of Bonaire is residential area, most of it is what we call Mondi (unused land) or Kunuku (small farm lands). The roads in the mondi are dirt roads, only accessible with a sturdy truck or jeep. When you … Continue reading

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The joy of gardening on Bonaire

This gallery contains 11 photos.

After a wearing and long construction period my house was finally done in the spring of 2008. The garden was completely vacant, so I could start from scratch. Before the construction started the terrain had been “cleaned” with a bulldozer, … Continue reading

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Scenic views on Bonaire

All my life I’ve been a sucker for scenic views. You recognize my type when you are driving behind one. All of a sudden he stops without warning and when you barely succeeded in your effort not to hit him, you realize that in a glance you saw this panorama from the corner of your eye. You just drive on, I am the one that stops and stares.

Bonaire has excellent spots to stop and stare. My number one favorite is Seru Largu, the hill that separates the lower part of the island from our “mountains” There is a monument on top, built in the year 2000 in honor of the Virgin Mary. When I came to the Island in 2003, her statue was still there. But vandalism took its toll and the statue disappeared. The panoramic view from the top is one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life. The hill slopes steeply down, almost vertical, so it feels like looking down from a plane. I love that feeling (that’s why I’m a pilot) and Bonaire has Seru Largu to provide it. The most spectacular part of the view is to the south, where you can see the whole coastline of the island, the mundi (waste land) with its kunuku`s (farms), the town of Kralendijk, the islet of Klein Bonaire, the solar salt works 10 miles to the south. On clear days you can even see the table mountain of Curacao, 40 miles to the west. Go there at night when the skies are clear. No light pollution here. A perfect place to see the milky way with or without your girlfriend.

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