Tuesday 15th March
Our first views of Bonaire were dominated by the enormous “Queen Victoria” which sailed past us and docked at an adjacent pier. It was good to note her registration in Southampton but we were a little worried that the small island might be overrun with passengers from the two cruise ships.
We had no tour booked for Bonaire and therefore Julian, Vera, Adrian and I decided to see whether we could negotiate our own. We wanted to find flamingos and also to visit the butterfly farm. None of the taxi drivers standing around near Discovery was interested in taking us out to the butterfly farm – declaring that it was over the other side of the island or too far or along unmade roads. Eventually one of them suggested we go down towards the Queen Victoria and see if there was someone there who would like to take us. We knew that they were advertising trips to see flamingos for $25 per person so at least we had a benchmark to go on.
The driver of the first four wheel drive type vehicle that we saw asked where we wished to go and did not seem at all phased. He offered to take us for $15 a head and so we gladly accepted.
On the way to the butterflies we passed enormous cacti and also many wild goats. Before very long we came to the butterfly farm and paid the $12 each entrance fee. The owner showed us his tanks full of various creatures to be found on Bonaire – hermit crabs and scorpions being notable occupants. Apparently there are no snakes on the island whilst Aruba is apparently overrun by them!
We had about 15 minutes inside the butterfly enclosure trying hard to take good photos of the butterflies – the predominant species was the Morpho Butterfly which looked fairly drab when settled with its wings closed but was a vivid blue colour when flying.
After we came out, we also saw some brightly coloured birds on the cacti nearby and spent some while trying to get reasonable photographs of them. Then we were off to track down flamingos and duly found some not that far away. The first group were the far side of some fencing in the lagoon and so looked rather as though they were in a zoo-like enclosure. Further down the road we saw some not so confined and also saw a group of them flying – a spectacular sight!
As we neared the town of Kralendrijk again, we in fact drove past some flamingos very close to the road. How ironic that they could be seen via a very short walk from the ship! No one had told us that!
We went into the market area of the town and Vera spotted a familiar face in the crowd – she couldn’t quite place her but knew she was a television personality from back home. It turned out to be Jennie Bond (former Royal Correspondent). Vera said “Are you who I think you are?” and she replied “Well I was when I woke up this morning!” which we thought was a perfectly reasonable response! It turned out that she and her partner were travelling on the Queen Victoria and had also come through the Panama Canal.
After lunch, we went out again determined to get some more photos of the flamingos on the lake that we had driven past at the end of our trip. Julian came with us but Vera remained onboard because of her tendonitis. We succeeded in getting some better photos although Jill managed to slip over in the mud around the lakeside (largely because she was carrying the computer in the hope of finding a wifi connection – which we never did!).
Very hot, we had a drink at a local café before Jill purchased a seed necklace and we returned to the ship.
We had been impressed with Bonaire – the people are friendly and the island is largely unspoilt. It presented as extremely green but this is because of the unusually heavy and prolonged rainfall there has been in recent weeks. Fortunately for us the sun shone the whole time – indeed it was incredibly hot!