Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Cruise
Columbia, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba
March 10th – 17th, 2013
 


March 13th

Kralendijk, Bonaire

Up early to get breakfast and ready for our trips today. The ship was right on time and arrived at 8 a.m. into Bonaire. There were nine in my little group and it was wonderful to meet two Albertans as well! It took us about 20 minutes to reach the butterfly farm and along the way saw some incredibly large cactus called Yatu which you make tequila out of. Also we saw the kadushi cactus. This cactus forms the basis of a traditional soup and was then used to form the basis of a drink used with awa di lamoenchi or cactus liqueur and lime and water. It is sold as Cadushy of Bonaire Liqueur and used not only as a drink but also in baking and cooking. We also saw many flamingoes in the wild, it was magical to see their pink bodies wading through the waters in search of food.

The butterfly farm is owned by a fellow from Holland who has grown to love Bonaire like so many other people from Holland. It is not large but in the butterfly house you will find many different types of butterflies flitting around and slurping on of all things – Gatorade! Yes, he is trying that to see how they enjoy it as he read some where that they liked it. So far he had mixed reactions but I watched them coming back for more. He gets most of the butterflies from Costa Rica and brings them on to fly here. Many challenges face him, not the least of which is clean water to drink. It is so salty around here – don’t forget the salt flats nearby. Lizards love butterflies, as do birds so it is a daily struggle to maintain a balance of the right birds who will eat the bugs and not the butterflies and the right lizards who will eat the ants. Weather also plays a large part…this past rainy season brought little rain so not many flowers and with that not many butterflies.

It is a really nice area though and worth the visit. The koi pond has some pretty big fish in it. After the visit here we sat down to try some of the local specialties of Bonaire served right here at the KishiKishi Café. We tried homemade bread in the shape of a butterfly – brown and sweet with three different spreads – a salsa type, one mix of butter, anchovy and sardine (strong but good when spread thinly) and the last one a fresh pea mush with cheese (very good). We also tasted a fish that is served in a banana leaf and an empanada type roll filled with goat cheese and deep fried…all good and to finish off we enjoyed goat cheese/ lime cheese cake.
On the way back we drove another way so got to see the Donkey Sanctuary. We didn’t visit it but I knew of it from before having spoken to the owner. She takes in donkeys that are injured or were left abandoned and provides shelter and food for them to live out their lives in peace. The donkeys came with the Spaniards in the 17th century. We also drove past the huge salt flats – pyramids of gleaming white salt. Long before the reefs brought in tourist dollars, salt was the natural resource that fueled this islands economy but nowadays the salt flats are home to huge flocks of flamingoes.

Tom had a fantastic time scuba diving…he went with 5 others to two places for two dives. One of the spots was called the Cliff where there was a very steep drop from the coral and the other place was Klein Bonaire where they saw may different kinds of fish and two turtles. The water was clear past 100 feet down. Klein Bonaire is very popular for scuba and snorkeling. They are very serious about keeping their waters protected and all swimmers, divers and surfers must pay a 10.00 fee or 25.00 fee if you are a diver for an annual nature fee. When Tom went he had to pay 10.00 for the privilege of diving here for the day. So little a price to pay!

The little town is full of interesting shops to visit and places where you can see what it was like living here in years past. There are also museums and art galleries worth the visit. Bonaire is part of the Netherlands, Antilles and a divers paradise. The surrounding reefs with in the world famous marine park are protected and abundant in sea life. There are 83 official dive sites to explore with 400 species of marine life and 55 types of coral! One of the restoration projects for this past year was the replanting of staghorn coral on steel trees and there is a preservation project ongoing to ensure the queen conch population increases. Those are the beautiful shells with the vibrant pink insides. Pink is also evident in a lot of the homes and buildings set against shades of orange. We can see why they have the slogan ‘Once a visitor always a friend’. This is a place where you want to come and spend at least a week at…enjoying the scenery and scuba diving. Kralendijk is the capital and this is where the ship docks when it arrives in these drop dead beautiful turquoise waters.

Tonight we meet with other people for the Crown & Anchor Society reception at 6:15 p.m. It’s a chance to meet with others and we see those we have met today on our outings before our dinner at Chops.

It is now 9:30 and I am sitting on the balcony enjoying the gentle breezes and the ocean lapping as the ship sails slowly to Curacao. It will be a slow ride tonight, in fact the Captain told us earlier that he would even be shutting down the engines so we would be drifting for a while because we would arrive much too early if we kept up this speed. Wow, to imagine a ship this size just drifting with the waves. Our dinner tonight at Chops was just as we remembered - really, really good. We started out with warm onion focaccia with pots of salt free butter and seasoned cream cheese. I had a crab cake and Tom couldn’t decide so he had both the oysters and a pot of mushroom soup. The oysters had bits of bacon on top and he said they were wonderful. I don’t enjoy them so skipped the sample but the mushroom soup was to die for….give me soup and bread and I am happy. It was pureed with butter and cream and gently seasoned – you just didn’t want to stop each and every spoonful. Then I had hazelnut crusted shrimp and he had steak and we both shared plates of double whipped mashed potatoes, greens beans in a Dijon mustard sauce with feta cheese and mushrooms and leeks…all heavenly. We finished with coffee as there was just no room left for desert. When you are on a cruise and they have a Chops Restaurant, you must try it at least once. The service is wonderful, the ambiance is classy and peaceful and the food is fantastic.

We are both tired and happy, it has been a good day, a bit of reading, typing and off to bed after welcoming our towel buddy rabbit for tomorrow is another day of exploration in one very pretty city.
 


 

 

 
 

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