Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bonaire--familiar and not

In Los Roques, I bonded with a woman on the beach (in Spanish, even--yes, I may have just pulled something from patting myself on the back) over our mutual lack of swimming skills. We laughed about the irony of my living on a boat yet being a relatively poor swimmer. Mark and Conrad are both better swimmers than I am, even considering that Mark's technique involves thrashing around and not making much forward progress when he tries to breathe and swim at the same time. The biggest advantage they have is being comfortable in the water. When I first took lessons at around their age, I hated the cold pool water and sank like a rock. It's been hard to shake that early impression.

Now that we swim almost exclusively in salt water, I can't help but float and if you give me a mask and snorkel I can actually swim for a decent distance. It helps to have logged a lot more hours. However, whenever I try to keep up with someone who actually knows how to swim, like Matt, it's a struggle. Which was a mystery to me, since from my perspective my form was perfect.

So the other day when we were snorkeling, Matt told me that I don't kick properly and that I bend my knees too much. This was news to me because I was pretty sure that I was already keeping my legs straight. So at least now I have something specific to work on (I mean the kicking, not the lack of self-awareness).

Bonaire is Matt's parents' home away from home. They have spent three weeks of every year windsurfing and diving in Bonaire. They're pretty impressive. At the Wilmette sailing beach, I once overheard a young whippersnapper mention to a friend, with mild awe, that she's a windsurfer (pointing to Nana as she walked by). As a result, Matt has been there a handful of times and we even brought Conrad for a visit when he was six months old. Our good friends Jeff and Laura and their daughter Alexis joined us and we had a great time. So we are more familiar with Bonaire than the other islands we have visited. However, like most things in life, it has changed in the last eight years.

Gio's gelateria and café, staffed by the tallest Dutch women ever.
The biggest difference from when we last visited is the cruise ships that come in almost every day. There are new businesses and buildings to support the ships and certainly more people milling about on cruise ship days. But in many other ways the main island is the same. It has crystal clear waters filled with coral and teeming with fish. The streets are notably free of litter and the people are friendly. Lac Bay is a haven for windsurfers, both beginners and world champions. Mark and Conrad's Nana sprang for lessons and they are hooked. We stayed a couple more days to try to get some used equipment so that they can keep at it. Hmmm, do they have scholarships for windsurfing? It's never too soon to start thinking about these things.

We can cross iguanas, flamingos and donkeys off our list of wildlife to see on the island. We saw (from a distance) the salt factory and the slave huts. Of course, the boys are still most interested in digging holes at the beach and swimming around on their boogie boards. We bought $1,400 in groceries, which is meant to be our main provisioning for the next year as we cross the Pacific. Speaking of the aforementioned pack animals (donkeys), Matt has been one and has the sore shoulders to show for lugging a grand and a half of groceries a mile back to the boat over multiple trips. As a side benefit, we're well-positioned for the zombie apocalypse.

It has rained a lot for a supposedly arid island, which has been good for water collection but bad for solar. Matt finally bought a battery tester and figured out that one of our batteries is bad. He may not have needed the tester to figure it out because the battery was almost dry after just a week of adding water and very hot to the touch. He removed it from the bank and we'll replace it when we get to Curacao, which is our next stop. The battery bank has been behaving much better since then. One bad apple and all that.

1 comment:

  1. I only wish I could have been with you during your stay on Bonaire.


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