Friday, February 02, 2007

Exploring Bonaire


Bonaire is approximately 112 square miles, 24 miles long and between 3 and 7 miles wide. It is 50 miles from the Venezuelan coast with 13,000 inhabitants. The highest point is Mount Brandaris (241m, 790 ft), which is in the north of the island. We explored the South and Southwest areas of Bonaire on Scooters along with Ken and Roberta, Second Wind and Byron and Denise, South of Reality. The southern part of the island is dominated by the saltpans, wetlands and mangroves.
Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles with its sister islands, Curacao and Aruba, to the west. Other Antillean islands include Saint Maarten, Saba and Statia. Bonaire's two main industries are salt and tourism, especially diving and eco-tourism. The salt mountains supply the solar salt industries in the world and were the main reason for the early introduction of slaves. Slavery was a part of the culture from the 17th - 19th century, and abolished in 1863. On the Southern coast are the restored slave houses. These were used to house the slaves working on the saltpans. The doors of these houses are at crawling height and barely big enough to stand up in. They used to house up to four men, but they hardly seem big enough for one!! During the week the slaves worked on the pans and then were allowed to walk home for the weekend, a seven hour hike to the settlement of Rincon. The salt pans also house the Flamingos. The Flamingos get their pink color by eating the shrimps on the saltpans. These shots were taken in flat marshlands on the southwest side of Bonaire. Flamingos live all over the island, we even met a lady that had 4 of them in her yard that she had raised since birth.

Windsurfing is a big attraction in Bonaire, most windsurfing takes place on the large lagoon on the southwestern windward side of the island, Lac Bay. The bay has a barrier reef which is calm and shallow which makes it ideal for windsurfing. Lac is also home to three globally endangered species: the Green Turtle, the Queen Conch and the mangrove trees. Bonaire National Marine Park enforces their legal protections.

We got lost at one point, but this sign cleared it all up. We saw several lighthouses on the island, the one to the right was at the southern end and the one on the left was on the southwest side. The great fun was the lighthouse was open so we were able to climb to the top for an incredible view.
The roads were all dirt out there, but our 100 cc scooters handeled it very well.
Adios for now, we will have an update of our explorations to the northern part of the island next. Hope you are enjoying the updates and leave us some comments, we enjoying hearing from you!!!!
Til next time, Kim and Mike on Ka'imi..................................

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