Friday, January 29, 2010

Last Day in Bonaire

by Shelley

Since we couldn't dive our last day in Bonaire (due to flying the next day) we rented a car and went for a drive. Our main goal was to kayak among the mangroves. We stopped there first and booked a tour for the afternoon (you can't go on your own which is understandable as it would be very hard to find your way through the maze of the mangroves).

Our next stop was the butterfly farm because Andrew doesn't have enough butterfly photos! :-) Seriously though, it was pretty good in terms of the information the woman working there shared with us but they didn't have a whole lot of butterflies (certainly not like the one in Cayman). Nevertheless it was very relaxing just to sit and watch them and the birds especially since we were the only ones there. The koi fish were fun too. Apparently they like to be touched; if you put your hand in the water they come and suck on it (they don't have teeth). Andrew got some good photos of the iguanas outside as well.

We had lunch at Lac Bay beside the windsurfing place. It was very busy here as there is a fairly nice beach right beside the restaurant and bar. Lots of windsurfers out; most people spent more time in the water than actually on their boards but one guy was doing some pretty fancy tricks which was fun to watch.

We then drove the coastal road around the southern end of the island. It's quite flat and barren with plenty of cactus. We learned about the salt mine and its history. There are rows of slave huts along the road that were built in the 1850's. They're made of cement and are so small you'd have to get down on hands and knees to crawl inside. There are also four large obelisks spread out along the shoreline, each a different color. Ships would come in and the quality of salt they were picking up would dictate which color they stopped at.

The salt flats water was very colorful ranging from a bright pink to purple color depending how much salt was in it. Most of the salt now goes to Europe for salting icy roads but some is also used in cosmetics and an even smaller portion as table/cooking salt.

We then made our way back to the mangroves. Our guide was quite a knowledgeable young man who provided lots of interesting information about the area, how the mangroves benefit the environment, and the negative effects in areas where mangroves have been removed.

There were two other couples on the tour with us and we made our way single file through some of the channels that were so narrow you could barely paddle through them. We paddled across the windy inlet and snorkeled for a short time. There were a lot of upsidedown jellyfish and we saw a few other fish but with seven people in shallow water with a silty bottom it didn't take long to not be able to see much of anything!

All in all it was a good day. Next time we'll have to explore the northern part of the island!

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