Bonaire is a divers paradise. There are hundreds of marked dive sites all around the island. So I figured the first blog would be full of underwater photos. Turns out the island has great bird bird watching and an interesting rugged and dry interior. The northern 1/3 portion of the island is a park, the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. The place is filled with cactus and harsh rock formations. Except for the bird species, you would think you were somewhere in the southwestern deserts of the US.
You need a truck or four-wheel drive to travel the park’s roads. Maurice, from the boat Cattiva, rented this beauty of a Nissan. US$25 a day. No seat belts, no radio, the ignition key falls out on each bump. Once we got over the truck’s various sounds, it turned into a reliable pony.
If you look close at the picture you can see a mooring ball in the center. Maybe sometime in the summer the winds back off enough to actually use it for diving. This time of year it would be a death sentence.
We asked one of the rangers the name of this lizard. He said it was “some other kinda lizard”.
Maria, please don’t feed the iguanas!
Pre-historic monster enjoying a tasty piece of cucumber.
A Trupial (we think). It looks like a northern song bird, not a desert island inhabitant. This is a dry place. All the drinking water for humans comes from RO (reverse osmosis) plants.
Need fencing material? You grab what’s abundant – cactus.
A pretty bird. This is the endangered Yellow-Shouldered parrot, locally called a Lora. They’re poached because they have good vocal skills and will imitate the human voice. They’re protected here on Bonaire, but apparently are still being taken even here. The park rangers have a hard time keeping people from raiding nests for the çaged bird trade’ and estimate that there are more in captivity on the island than in the wild.
Not every bird here thinks they need to dress up in garish colors. A Tropical mockingbird, or chuchubi, who has a pretty song.
You do have to watch for the attack lizards.
There are a lot of goats running free. These guys have no problem eating most of the cacti, including the Prickly Pear. Sometimes the Prickly Pear wins. This piece is sticking out of the poor goats neck.
The other critter you see roaming around is the donkey. We spotted this pair is standing near the entrance of a high end housing development.
The donkeys even find things to munch on in the beach ruble.
The south end of the island has large salt drying ponds. The ponds turn reddish as they concentrate. On the right side of the photo are the mining trucks and salt mounds.
These are some big trucks.
Down this end of the island they use windmills to move water into the drying ponds. How Dutch.
In the colonial times, the salt mining was done with government slave labor. These are small slave huts used to house the workers along the beach.
Along the beach there are these colored obelisks. The different colors represented different grades of salt. Based on what was on the a ships manifest, the captain would know to anchor off the correct colored obelisk to pick up the grade of salt that they were transporting.
Now, everybody’s getting air borne.
Old grump watching the flamingos.
We drove the trusty Nissan on a dirt road for mile or so to see these cave paintings. They are most likely night sky images made by a local pre-Colombian astronomer.
The distillery was located on the site of an old movie theater. They had a number of these projectors just sitting around. Not rusty, but almost as good as seeing rusty stuff.