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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bonaire then and now

This Pride of  Barbados bush was among those attracting hummingbirds to the gardens around Sorobon on Bonaire.

 Looking around at the folks waiting with me at Newark airport for the midnight flight to Bonaire, it was apparent that all of us were headed for an island quite a bit different than many of the others in the Caribbean. Instead of resort sun dresses and high heeled sandals to showcase pretty pedicures, most of my travel companions wore jeans,  Tshirts and sturdy footwear. They knew we’d be welcomed by a desert island, not a palmy beach lined shore, where coral outcroppings and cactuses demand sensible shoes.  I traded robins, squirrels and white-rail deer for flamingos, wild donkeys and iguanas when I left Northeast Ohio for Bonaire.


We'd forgotten to bring carrots when we encountered this wild donkey who approached our car seeking a handout. The animals remain from the days when they worked at salt production on Bonaire, 

I’ve heard Bonaire called the Galapagos of the Caribbean — not far wrong when you include the many parrot like birds, interesting bats, and abundant sea life that awaits on its reefs. It’s a sleepy island, without a single traffic light but now has three service stations.
This sweet little trunkfish  seemed to be posing for my underwater pictures. They blow into the sand to uncover their dinner, which they suck up through their puckered lips.

It had been six years since I last visited and seeing what was new was at the top of my to-do list. Two years ago Bonaire became like a state of Holland as its neighbor islands, Curacao and Aruba, opted instead for greater independence.  Since then the U.S. dollar has been adopted as Bonaire’s official currency but since most goods on the island come there on twice daily KLM flights  from Amsterdam,  purchases reflect those prices in euros. Property owners, such as the friend I stayed with, claim that prices have increased dramatically in the past two years. But reasonably priced produce is brought by boat from Venezuela, 50 miles away, and yummy beef comes from Argentina. 
Sorobon is one place that’s changed since I was last on the island and I wanted to check it out. It’s on Lac Bay, on the opposite side of the island from Kralendijk. Jibe City, known by windsurfers throughout the world, is right next door. The two properties are just about the only things at that end of the island.
When I was last there Sorobon was a nude resort and as much as I wanted to experience its beach I wasn’t comfortable doing that. But now it is a family resort and clothes are needed.

These men are about 70 yards off shore at Sorobon where even the windsurfers beyond them enjoy the shallow water protected by a reef. The ropes protect the sea grass, a habitat for turtles.

 Bonaire is not an island known for its beaches but the beach at Sorobon is world class... a long stretch of snowy white sand and water so shallow a child could walk into the sea for a hundred yards and still not be more than waist deep in water.
 It’s a perfect place for a family with accommodations in 28 pretty seaside cottages, each air conditioned and with its own fully equipped kitchen. My friend and I had a lovely lunch at the beach restaurant there and walked through its gardens where hummingbirds flitted among bright tropical flowers.

 Tranquil describes all of Bonaire but Sorobon is REALLY quiet.   Most everyone comes to the island to enjoy its diving and snorkeling so most visitors are out in the water by day and exhausted from the activity and the sunshine at night, when there’s very little night life.   I’m an early-to-bed early -to- rise type who loved every minute of my week there.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the donkey pic. Had no clue tht Bonaire was so rocky and rough, but beautiful. The diving looks amazing. Sorry- can't identify the fish type, but I think his name is "Fred."
Always enjoy your travels even if I don't often comment.
A JP fan

April 4, 2012 at 6:49 PM 
Blogger News-Herald Blogs said...

I just took the time to look it up (something I always do when I'm working but didn't because this trip wasn't work) and discovered that the sweet little fish is a smooth trunkfish becasue it has black lips. A s[potted trunkfish on the other hand has white lips. I am totally smiten with the underwater world. Becoming certified to dive is the best thing Ive done in 30 years!
Janet Podolak

April 5, 2012 at 10:52 AM 

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