5:15am alarm this morning. Not cool when you're on vacation! (But completely acceptable to work out when you're unemployed? I make no sense sometimes.) Anyways, I got dressed, finished packing (i.e. stuffing what was left inside my suitcase), had some oatmeal, took my drugs, and was out the door by 5:45am. In the dark.
Didn't take long to get to the airport, maybe 15 minutes, and I wasn't even sure it was open! It was empty inside!
There wasn't even anyone behind the counter to check people in, and it was only two hours prior to departure. The website said it CLOSED an hour and a half before departure. So apparently you have less than a 30 minute window to check in?
Someone eventually came, I got my suitcase checked in. Iit's free and I don't want to deal with it since I have to transfer in Curaçao.
Immigration and security took all of a combined two minutes. And the airport was still empty inside!
At least there was a good sunrise at the gate to keep me entertained.
Definitely could have slept in at least another hour. Instead, I about froze to death (seriously, the airport was ridiculously cold) for well over an hour waiting for the flight.
We boarded a bus about 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and still managed to take off on time! Small airports are awesome. It was a little prop plane, and it wasn't a full flight, so took no time at all to get off the ground.
And 15 minutes later (no joke) we landed on the island of Curaçao. I was just getting comfortable and about to fall asleep when we hit ground again!
Another bus to the airport, and for some unknown reason, we all had to go though a security check point again. Annoying by itself, but the fact that no one was actually working at the security check point made it a little worse. And the fact that we had a connecting flight that was already calling our names over the loud speaker made it really worse.
Made it on the plane (barely), and another 15 minutes later, landed in Bonaire!
I really wasn't too sure what to expect here. I hadn't heard much about it. Heck, I didn't even know where it was until my scuba dive instructor in Kansas City told me it's the best place in the world to dive (in his opinion).
The airport was super tiny. Quick stamp in the passport, my bag came almost immediately, and everyone from the whole flight was out the door of the airport in like 5 minutes. Crazy!
I did a little reading and found out a taxi from the airport to the hostel I booked off Airbnb would be $20. That was confirmed when I asked the one lone taxi driver outside how much to the spot. He didn't speak much English and hadn't ever heard of the one hostel in Bonaire...but still said $20.
A rental car for the day would be $40...so, why not. I like to check out the place I'm at, so a car would be easy for that.
There was a whole row of rental car buildings just across the parking lot, so that's where we headed.
And a few minutes later, this pretty little blue Kia pulled up.
So I get in, the guy is explaining everything to me about the car...and I look down to see the dreaded stick shift. Ugh. It's been years since I've driven one of those. Probably in the Azores...when I backed in to a cement post in a parking garage almost immediately.
Thankfully, I did okay. It took me a second. I mean I had to sit there and talk myself through everything. Clutch, break, gas, gear shifter...Got it. Couldn't get it to go, though1. Dang parking break. ;)
Anyways, the only time I killed it was when I thought I was in reverse and was actually in 4th. Other than that it went pretty smooth!
I immediately loved the feeling of Bonaire so much more than Aruba. Not much English -- even the road signs were in Dutch, cute little bright colored houses lining the water, it's clean, no stray dogs all over and goats living of piles of trash like there were in Aruba. The government just runs this place way better. And the best thing: it doen't have the super touristy feel at all. No McDonalds or KFC or anything like that on this island! WIN!
It was almost lunch time and I was hungry, so first stop in Bonaire: grocery store. There was a sign on the road for some big one, so that's where we headed. It was big and nice and clean! Definitely not the "locals" market.
Except everything was in Dutch again! I'm not exactly sure what all was purchased, but pictures made it a little easier.
Grocery shopping when you're already hungry is never a good idea. The bag of chips got opened -- again.
Once I paid and was walking out, I spotted all these delicious looking smoothies right by the door. YES, PLEASE. I didn't even care how much they were. Give me all the green smoothies! ;)
Before heading out to the Surf Hostel (cheapest place to stay in Bonaire!), we decided to check out the main town on the island, Kralendijk.
There happened to be two big cruise ships docked there, so I was preparing for the worst: tourists galore.
One thing I noticed right away was the military presence. The hot 18 year old army guys were everywhere. So much that I wondered if something was going down and we just were completely unaware. I mean they were all over town, walking the streets in formations with guns out. So weird to me, but I guess it's normal here. (But come on, what are they doing? Who is going to come attack a tiny Dutch-owned island in the Caribbean?)
Sure enough, one trip down the main strip of town proved me right: the streets were lined with the cruise ship patrons. So easy to spot -- especially when they're in matching hats they just bought1
I was really curious to see just what kind of place this hostel was going to be, so that's where the next stop was. Thankfully, Google maps has been working like a charm, even with cellular and data turned off. I googled the address when I had wifi, so now I could still see how to get there.
It was literally out in the country, in the middle of nowhere (well, like 10 minutes from town).
It seemed good enough. Sharing a room with 6 other beds -- and one bathroom, should be interesting -- but they didn't have any beds ready yet. Good thing for the rental car! Everything stayed in there and we went on a little tour of the island. I wanted to drive alllll the way around it - or as far as we could make it anyways.
Just down the road from the hostel, I freaked.out when I spotted some flamingos a few hundred feet off the road. I started walking right out to them, through the dirt field, until a car drove by, honked and waved their finger no. Apparently that wasn't allowed? I didn't want to get in too much trouble on day 1, so I backed off and went back to the car, sad to not get an up close picture of them.
(They're so far away you can't even see them in the picture -- but they're there, I promise!)
(That's how far away from the car I got...) ^^
But literally, I was SO EXCITED to have seen them - even from that far away. That was one of the few things I read about Bonaire. There were flamingos, and I wanted to see them! A little closer would have been better, but I saw them and was happy.
I also read there were wild donkeys on the island that have caused traffic accidents, and sure enough, there they were. All over, just walking around like it was no big deal. I thought it was hilarious to see them. I mean these are things we dont' see every day in Kansas!
Next stop on the drive: Lac Bay, which was the closest water to the hostel. It looked good for the first stop:
But we kept driving around to the other side of it, closer to Sorobon Beach, the main wind surfing beach, and it was amazing!
I got out here, not even an actual beach, covered in trash, but it was still awesome. I tried to save some jellyfish from the tide carrying them to shore. Not sure if I succeeded or not, but I tried!
Further around the island, all the way to the southern tip, there was a lighthouse, and some old slave huts, more gorgeous beaches, and more flamingos. A little closer this time! Just so cool!
Found a few good spots for sunset watching near the salt flats (this is where the pink sea salt comes from!)
and kept going around the southwestern side back up to the main part of town. All the beaches looked so good for snorkeling! There is a big reef here that is just feet off the shore. And with a white sandy beach leading up to it, it just doesn't get any easier.
We still hadn't eaten lunch, although we had a car full of groceries. But in order to save time and see the whole island, we stopped at a Suriname restaurant just outside Kralendijk. We initially just stopped in to see what the menu looked like and were going to head a few doors down to a sandwich, shop, but the guy working literally came out from behind the counter to catch us and talk us in to staying. He was from Texas (which I would have never guessed with his accent from living here so long). So glad we stayed. Suriname lunch was delicious, and not that expensive. $10ish I think and we got a free taste of ice cream after!
More driving, up the western coast all the way to the National Park. The coastline was just amazing the whole way.
(1,000 steps beach ^^)
The Washington Slagbaai National Park was the perfect stop for a bathroom break and quick tour of the visitor center.
More flamingos on the drive through the edge of the park, and even closer this time! The excitement had worn off a little from the first time I saw them, but it was still pretty dang cool to see them!
A lot of the north-eastern coast was impossible to get to (literally no roads), so we drove down through the middle of the island, and only one quick stop down a dirt road to a little bay on the eastern side. Which was such a waste. This was all that was there, just past the trash dump.
We ended up back close to the hostel, but kept on driving down the dirt road to see where it went. More flamingos!!
And a mangrove kayak center....and further down, we hit the other side of Lac Bay. Ocean to one side, and mangroves on the other. Looked like a good spot to go snorkeling!
Oh! And there were 5 GIANT piles of huge conch shells! I guess people used to eat the snail/crab/whatever inside of it, and that's where they would bring them in and clean them out to eat them. But now they are a protected species so they can't do that. So the piles just sit there!
It wasn't getting close to sunset time - my favorite! - so we drove over to the south, kinda south western part of the island and pulled over to watch and take some pictures. It was a good one, but about the time we started to leave, it got really good. Like, one of the best ever! So glad we got to see that one from the edge of the water...while practicing yoga. ;)
It was getting late by the time it got dark, and I was tired, so back to the hostel for dinner and bed.
I was looking forward to a shower after the long day...until I got in and it was cold. Ugh. No hot water here. Let me tell you, cold shower are one of my least favorite things. Ever.
Aaaah the hostel life. Definitely saw a mouse twice in the dorm room. Quite a few bugs but my bed doesn't have a mosquito net over it (only one does, actually). A small uncomfortable mattress, concrete floor room, with doors and windows wide open. But hey, it's $9 a night, so I'll take it!
Oh, and I'm going to bed in long pants and a sweater. Even on a Caribbean island! I have a problem...