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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bonaire 2008

The flight left for Houston from Baltimore on Friday evening (Aug 29). We were flying first class from Baltimore to Bonaire, in order to allow us to get some rest and arrive fresh, since our flight arrived at 5:00am. I'll post more info about the flights in another post about Continental Airlines, but I really loved first class, that is for sure.

So, the plane landed at 5:00 Saturday morning and after a depressing 45 minute wait for our luggage, be headed to the rental car place, which was at the Plaza Resort. Bonaire has been having a lot of rain lately, so it was only, oh, 15 seconds of waiting outside the car rental for Todd before I was swarmed with mosquitoes. They were everywhere, almost forming a type of cloud. I dug through the luggage to find the bug spray, but the damage was done and I'd had a portion of my legs nibbled away. The lady waiting with me for her husband turned down the spray that I offered, claiming that she takes a lot of B Vitamins, so mosquitoes don't bite her. Well, after I sprayed, my swarm moved over to her and I saw about 12 of them resting on her legs. Whatever, lady.

I really didn't expect our hotel (Harbour Village) to have a room, but in fact the bellman was waiting for us with the key to our room that we requested (the same one as last year). I loved the bellman, he was frickin' awesome, btw. Anyway, everything was good with the room (it was just like we left it, except they'd installed a mosquito killing machine). We headed down to breakfast.

We checked in with the dive shop and then took a much needed two hour nap (well, I took a two hour nap. Todd took a one hour nap and then set up his camera. Thank goodness for that camera since it allows me to get extra sleep). We did our checkout dive on Our Confidence, which has collapsed a lot since last year. It looks nothing like it used to.

For the most part, each day was diving and dinner. We did a lot of boat dives. Most of those were on Klein Bonaire, although we did an awsome drift dive that took us past the Hilma Hooker in an awesomely dramatic way. We did some drift dives as well. One dive, at Witch's Hut, had to be cut short due to an equipment failure (Todd's regulator). All was fine though, and we obviously survived.

Mosquitoes were the worst that I'd ever seen in my life, anywhere. They had put a mosquito trap in the room, but then one day left a mosquito zapper shaped like a tennis racket. Todd loved this thing, and would even go outside to search out mosquitoes when there weren't some in the room. It basically vaporized them to nothing with a satisfying electric sound. He's ordering one for us to take to Belize later in the year.

On Wednesday, we ventured out for two shore dives far south (below the Salt Pier) at Margate Bay and Atlantis. We had never been diving this far south, and the dives were incredible. The gorgonians in the shallows were beautiful. Excellent vis, turtles, squid, etc. I honestly just wanted to not even look too closely at the reef because I couldn't stop just looking around at how pretty the dive sites were. Two perfect, wonderful dives and definitely my two favorites of the trip.

We headed back to the hotel to grab two more tanks, and headed back south to try to get one more dive in before dark. This one was at Red Beryl, and new friends Leah and Kumal joined us. It ended up getting pretty dark during the dive, which meant we saw a big tarpon and a lobster. It was pretty much dark once we were on shore with our equipment and the nearby salt flats led to a swarm of mosquitoes that is unrivaled with anything I've ever experienced in my life. Thankfully, I was wearing a wet suit.

The interesting things happened on Thursday. We had intended to do more shore diving and had a scheduled night dive with dive master Nolly at Town Pier. It was not to be. Hurricane Ike in the north had caused some disturbances in the ocean. We had sunny skies and normal weather, but the surge from the Hurricane was crazy. We stay on the calm side of the island and normally, small waves gently lap at the beach. Thursday, on some parts of the island, the waves were 2-3 stories high. I kid you not. Our beach had waves the size of large waves you'd see in Ocean City, we had to load up the dive boat in the marina and not on the dock, and the waves at the dock went up about 10 feet above the dock. CRAZY.

Example:
From Bonaire 2008

That photo was taken at Eden Beach Resort, which is the next resort over, our dock is the yellow one in the distance. I didn't have my camera charger for the trip, so we took few topside photos. Leah and Kunal have promised to send their photos of the surge.

The results of the surge ended up being that the Harbour Village folks built an impromptu seawall and brought in a Bobcat to try and save the man made beach. The waters around contained things like floating beach chairs and throughout the day, the beach eroded away A LOT. By night time, the surge had ended, they repaired the beach on Friday and it was like it didn't happen.

Despite the surge, we still dove on Thursday, although we couldn't shore dive and had to cancel the night dive due to loss of visibility. The diving was fine and looking at the dives alone, I wouldn't have known something was wrong. We mostly dove off of Klein Bonaire, had 100 foot visibility and no rough seas at all.

I passed my 100th dive during the trip! I am a Century Diver, and I can apply for the card now. How cool! Not bad for someone who has been diving less than 2 years. Alfonso (dive master) was impressed that Todd actually brought back the same chick 2 years in a row. He also had to confess to Todd that he got married in December... He's a good guy and went above and beyond the call of duty this time, as did Malin. It's crazy that people are remembering us from year to year - dive masters and restaurant owners, etc.

Our non-diving day was Friday, where we drove the southern part of the island, went to Maiky Snack, Donkey Sanctuary, and generally endured the horrific heat. It was a good day, ending with the most beautiful sunset of the trip.

There are photos to come, I promise. Like I said, there were few topside ones, but a lot of underwater ones. More to come later this week, so stay tuned...

See also: Restaurants in Bonaire

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