#114 – Kralendijk, Bonaire

Bonaire turned out to be an incredibly interesting place to visit. The island is a municipality of the Netherlands, but oddly enough they only use USD as the island’s currency.

Dive into the underwater paradise of Bonaire.

Part of the Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire is a bona fide “diver’s paradise”. That’s what all the license plates say. Take one glance beneath the surface and you’re likely to agree. The surrounding reefs within the world-famous Marine Park are protected and abundant in sea life, offering some of the best snorkeling and diving on earth. Kralendijk is the sleepy capital of Bonaire. Wander about town admiring the pastel pink and orange hues of all the homes. Just south of the capital is Bonaire’s famous pink beach. The semi-desert landscape with its interesting rock formations and cacti is astoundingly beautiful.

As soon as we got off the cruise ship, we got a taxi driver to take us around the southern part of the island. We paid US$ 25 per person and it ended up being a 2-hour tour, so the price wasn’t too bad. Bonaire is so easy to get around – there’s just one road that goes around the entire island and you can drive around in 3-4 hours (according to our taxi driver).

Our first stop was at the salt pyramids. Wow, this was such a pretty sight. In the “middle of nowhere” we found these gigantic, snow white mountains of sea salt glistening in the hot sun. We took lots of photos and even got to sample the sea salt.

Just as we were leaving, a guy came driving up to us in his pickup truck and he had big chunks of sea salt. He offered us one each to take with us as a souvenir.

Our next stop, not too far away, was at the tiny white & black slave huts. These huts were built side by side right in front of the beach and were used as camping/sleeping facilities and storage for the slaves that once worked in the salt ponds. A little further south, we passed by another “camp site” with orange slave huts.

Our friendly taxi driver drove us further south along the coast of the island. We passed by the famous Pink Beach, which apparently wasn’t so pink anymore as a storm had blown most of the sand away. We passed by a small neighborhood where he lived and saw his house and 3 cute dogs. We passed by Sorobon Beach, saw lots of wild flamingos and wild donkeys along the way.

The landscape was incredibly dry everywhere. Our driver was telling us that it hardly ever rained on the island and that they could easily go 6 months without any rain. Well, it sure does show on the vegetation, which is very scarce and dry.

No paradise can escape the effects of our (humanity’s) plastic consumption and you definitely see this along the coast of Bonaire. We were driving along the rocky coastline and suddenly I noticed lots of colors. Different colors were popping everywhere amid all the gray and black rocks.

After a while I realized that these colors were plastic! Oh, no. How very sad.

All along the coastline, plastic waste was just sitting there as the most natural part of the landscape. Some people had even stacked the rocks and made sculptures out of rocks, branches and plastic (for photos?). I’m guess that all of this plastic had washed ashore and probably traveled hundreds or thousands of miles before ending up on Bonaire. I was shocked, but (unfortunately) not surprised. It seems that plastic waste is becoming an increasingly natural part of our landscape, regardless of where in the world you are.

We ended up at Spice Beach Club for lunch. I had a really nice burger with fries and a mango mojito. The beach club was pretty crowded and it was so hot, so we only stayed for lunch.

Back in town, we walked around and looked at a few of the shops. At La Placita Square, we found a salt shop selling the original Bonaire sea salt and bought a few souvenirs – regular sea salt and bath salt with mango fragrance.

I can’t wait to try them when I get home.

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