Friday, July 13, 2018

Washington Slagbaai National Park, Bonaire

On Wednesday morning, we had planned a day of diving but the sun was hiding behind the clouds. Visibility underwater for scuba diving is much better when the sun is shining brightly. So, we decided to switch up our plans and  experience our "dry" day one day early. We went to the Washington Slagbaai National Park. The park covers almost 14,000 acres (5643 hectares). The park is located on the Northwest side of Bonaire.
 It took us less than an hour to drive there. We stopped several times on the drive to get out and walk along the coast. That part of the island was undeveloped and had gorgeous cliffs along the coastline with sprays of water.
In order to dive in Bonaire you have to pay a $25 fee and get a dive tag. We found out that our diving fee gave us free entry to the park. We started our time at the park by walking through the museum.  The museum told the history of Bonaire, the history of the land the National Park sits on, information about plant and animal life in the park, and had a couple of hands-on exhibits for kids. Boogs enjoyed the shark room. He got to act like an archeologist and dig up some shark bones.
 We had fun acting with the shark head in the room. The shark took a bite out of Boogs arm.
 My husband looked like a goner for sure.
 When my leg was bit, I fought back with a good punch to the nose.
We left the museum and had to decide which road we wanted to take through the park. Without stopping at any sites of interest, the short road took 1.5 hours to dive and the long road took 2.5 hours to drive. We chose to take the long road. The road in the park is one way only. So once you commit to the short or long road, you are locked in to that direction for the duration of your stay in the park. The road was rough, bumpy, and slippery in some places. You had to have a pick-up truck, van, jeep, or vehicle with high ground clearance.
The first place we stopped was at the Seru Grandi point of interest. There were magnificent cliffs made of limestone containing fossil remnants of coral reefs. The higher terrace is over a million years old.
 We enjoyed exploring the cliffs.
We walked away from the cliffs towards the coast to visit Suplado Blow Hole. That was an impressive show of the force of water.

 I didn't get a picture with a good spray coming up. It was so cool to see in person.

Our next point of interest stop was at Boka Kokolishi, named for the Kokolishi shells that litter the sandy beach. It was a beautiful little bay.
We walked down the stairs and then decided it was a perfect spot for wading in the water. We walked back up to our car to get our water shoes.
 Boogs is getting so big. Pretty soon he is going to be as tall as Daddy.
 Boogs had fun climbing on and jumping of the rocks. We had our swimsuits in the car, but he just jumped in with his clothes on.
Our next stop was the Seru Bentana Lighthouse. It was a bit of a hike up to the lighthousee.
 The view near the lighthouse was spectacular.
 The lighthouse was locked so we were unable to go up to the top.
 I had never seen cactus growing on a beach.
We skipped a couple of birdwatching points of interest and stopped at Malmok. Malmok is a historical and geological site. The brochure said, "Not only can you find geological evidence of past hurricanes and tsunamis, you may travel through time from the Amerindian camps in AD 800, to shipwrecks discovered since the 15th century, to the use of the area in more recent times."
There were several different areas in this section. There was also a dead goat lying next to the ruins of the Malmok lighthouse.
After Malmok, there were several scuba diving sites on this part of the park's coastline. We skipped by those because we wanted to get to Boka and Salina Slagbaai beaches. We were instructed by the park ranger to leave Boka & Salina Slagbaai by 4 pm to make it back to the entrance/exit gate before closing time. The park closed at 5pm and the gate was locked until 8 am the next morning.
 Boka had a calm bay with a white sandy beach and bathrooms. We hiked around the area for a bit to find the spot for cliff diving. This path led to the cliff diving.
 Boogs really wanted to jump off the 25 ft cliff. I was very happy that no one else was jumping and that there was a very strong wind blowing. We convinced Boogs that the wind was too strong to cliff jump that day. Look at his hair in this picture. That is the jumping off spot. No thank you!
We changed into our bathing suits and played in the water for a couple of hours. The water was perfect.
 We wandered around the bay and climbed over some rocks.

Boogs and Daddy found the perfect spot for wave jumping. They held on to each other so they would not get knocked down.

 I love Boogs' smile in this picture. He had a fantastic time at the beach.
We packed up our stuff and left the beach by 3:45. We wanted to make sure we made it to the gate before the park was locked up for the night. My husband had fun driving like a maniac on the rough roads just to make me scream. It was fun.

I had my husband stop several times to try and get a picture of the bottom of these cactus. It almost looks like a tree trunk. I have never seen a cactus like this. We saw several placed on the island that used cactus, instead of barb wire, on their fences. I would not want to touch that cactus, those thorns were sharp and tough.
I snapped this picture of Boogs when I got out of the truck back at our condo. He is completely asleep. I guess our day trip to the park wore him out.
We rested for a little bit and cleaned up then headed to Kralendijk waterfront for dinner at It Rains Fish. The view was nice and the food was delicious. We all had the catch of the day, it was literally caught that afternoon. Between the three of us we had barracuda, wahoo, and rainbow runner grilled fish.

 After dinner, Boogs hopped in the front seat to help Daddy navigate back to our condo.

We all enjoyed our "dry" day but were ready to get back underwater for some more diving.

This post is linked to:

Country Kids

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Crazy Summer 2018

Wow! It has been a crazy summer so far. School let out on June 8th. I don't have to go back to work until August 9th and the students' first day of school will be August 16th.  That is two weeks shorter than previous summers.

On June 10th, I took Boogs to his first ever sleep away camp - Band Camp at Texas State University.
It is about an hour away from our home. Boogs was nervous and excited about going. I think he handled it better than I did. Those kiddos worked hard on their music. The concert at the end of the week was outstanding!

While Boogs was at camp, my husband went to Canada for his 30th high school reunion. I actually had the house to myself for 2.5 days. It was too quiet. I picked Boogs up from camp, then my husband came home two days later. On Monday June 18th, I dropped Boogs off in Waco to spend a couple of nights with the JBoys. He came home for one day before we dropped him off at my parents house while my husband and I went to Chicago for four days.

Boogs had morning Soccer Camp the Week of June 25th through the 29th. After we picked him up from soccer camp at noon on Friday the 29th, we drove to Houston so we could catch an early morning flight to Bonaire on June 30th.
The past two summers, we have had our summer family vacation in the Florida Keys. Boogs completed his Jr. Advanced Open Water Scuba Certification in May. We decided to take him to a new place for diving. We went to Bonaire. Bonaire is a municipality of the Netherlands. It is located about 50 miles off the coast of South America near Venezuela. It is considered to be a diver's paradise as the island is fringed by coral reefs. The entire island coast is protected as a National Marine Park. The Park starts at the high water mark on land and extends to 200 ft of water depth. You have to pay a conservation fee to swim/dive in the water.
We stayed at the Port Bonaire Condos in the capital city of Kralendijk.  The view from our balcony was as good as advertised.
 The ocean was just off the pool deck.
There were even stairs that led down to an entry for scuba divers to enter the water. We were happy to see a diver's rinse take at the bottom of the steps. We used that rinse tank a lot during our stay.
We booked our Port Bonaire condo through HomeAway and got a really good deal for the week. I prefer to have my own kitchen and separate bedrooms rather than stay at a resort.

Our first full day on the island was a little sad. We woke up to an absolute downpour. It rained and sprinkled most of the day. One of the locals told us it had not rained in 4 months.
We didn't let the rain get us down. We ran errands, went to the grocery store, and set up our dives for the week at the Dive Friends dive shop. It is interesting trying to buy groceries when you can't understand what is written on the labels. Grocery prices are comparable to prices in the states. I found it a bit odd that the national currency of Bonaire is the U.S. dollar.  That made it easy for us, no exchange rate or money changing to worry about during our stay.
 Boogs didn't mind swimming in the rain. Daddy was okay with it, too.
The rain stopped around 3:30. We decided to head down to the Kralendijk waterfront, walk around, and look in some of the local shops. Once we arrived at the downtown waterfront, we found out the shops closed at 3 pm on Sundays. Oh well, we still enjoyed our walk.
 There were so many sailboats anchored near the shore.
This tree was covered in flipflops, toys, paper, and other items that had been pulled out of the water. It had a sign, but I don't read or speak Dutch so I assumed the sign was warning people about keeping the water clean.
The sun finally peeked out for the first time that day around 6pm. Boogs enjoyed reading on the balcony in the little bit of sunshine.
I'll post more of our Bonaire adventures later.

This post is linked to:

Country Kids