Brandon took this picture of Kathy in Bonaire
Brandon and Kathy
Kathy took this picture of Brandon in Bonaire
Bonaire, July 2005
A good dive trip with two unfortunate "incidents"
In order to get back into diving, we wanted some easy dive sites - little current and relatively shallow. We also wanted the ability to do shore dives for a couple of days before starting the boat dives. Bonaire seemed to be the ideal place, since it is well known for shore diving. They have yellow markers along the road to identify the dive sites; they even have "Diver's Paradise" on their license plates.
My brother Scott had been to Bonaire several times and knew the dive sites well.
So he agreed to organize the trip.
Kathy and I flew to Atlanta and spent the night at Scott's house in Columbus. The next morning we got up at 4:00 AM to get to the airport on time. When we finally got to the head of the line at Air Jamaica, we discovered a problem with a passport. Kathy and I went on to Bonaire and Scott stayed behind.
But good news, he was able
to follow us down two days later, and by the next day he was showing us dive sites
and restaurants. The first restaurant was Casablanca, an Argentinian steak house.
Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles and is about 60 miles from Venezuala.
It gets very little rain and is almost a desert island. They even use cactus
for fences. The downtown is picturesque with a colorful pier where you can sip
a drink and watch the dive boats go by.
The southern end of the island contains evaporation ponds where salt is
harvested. In the 1850's, slaves were used to work the salt ponds; but today
modern machinery is used.
Captain Donal Stewart sailed into Bonaire in May 1962. Within hours he was diving on the reefs using the tanks that he had brought with him. Within two years he had established a diving operation and tourism took off. By 1969 he had put in moorings so the dive boats no longer anchored on the reefs. He, along with others in the Bonaire diving community, established the first marine park where the reefs and fish would be preserved for generations to come.
We stayed at the resort that he built - Captain Don's Habitat. The grounds were well cared for and our cottage was perfect for us. The view from the living room was of lush, green tropical plants. And the porch had a line where we could dry our wet suits.
We enjoyed breakfasts and lunches in the open air restaurant overlooking the water. The
dive boats were just a few steps below.
We always had sea gulls as companions at breakfast and lunch. Sometimes we had an iguana. Scott took these pictures of our lunchtime companions.
Scott showed us new restaurants, including "Donna and Giorgio's".
he acted as tour guide and showed us the southern half of the island. We saw
the salt ponds, the huts where the slaves kept their belongings, the lighthouse
at the southern end of the island, windsurfers (the eastern side of the island
is a major spot for windsurfing), and of course more cactus.
We did come here to dive after all. We did do three or four dives each day,
but the first few days we didn't take our cameras as we were still getting used
to diving again. But on the last few dives we did get a few pictures of the
critters that we saw.
Playing with PicturesI was too far away from the squid when I took the picture shown above. I was not happy with the results, so I tried several manipulations in Photoshop to see if I could come up with anything interesting. Here is what I got:
If you look closely at the picture of Kathy above (under "The Diving" heading) you will see that she has a housing but there is no camera in it. There is a reason for that. One day when Scott and I went to dive on a wreck, Kathy stayed behind. She decided to go diving there at Captain Don's and take some pictures. She did a giant stride off the end of the pier holding her camera (I had never told her that was a bad idea). The shock of hitting the water caused the housing to leak and the camera was ruined. The next day she took the empty housing down to verify that it didn't leak anymore. The housing was fine and we have bought her a new camera. So everything is OK now.
After diving, we took naps on the porch. In the evenings we watched the
sunsets. All in all it was a relaxing, enjoyable week. I am sure that we
will return to Bonaire or to some similar tropical island.
|C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
|updated August 15, 2005|