This is part 1 of a series of 3 guest posts written by my friend Catharina, who spent a week with us in Bonaire. Enjoy!
This is easy travelling. Leave from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, one of the best organized airports in the world. Fly comfortably, even in an Economy seat, with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Bonaire, with one short stop in Aruba. Watch three movies on the way and sleep for a bit – 12 hours to the west makes for a very long day.
One does need to vacate the aircraft for an hour in Aruba, during cleaning and refuelling. Aruba airport is a rabbit warren and I spent most of that hour trying to navigate it, being sent up and around and down, right back to the gate we arrived at. Barely 30 minutes after take off, we landed on Bonaire. I got a good look at the island from the air. It looked small and very dry, with a wide band of spectacularly turquoise water all around it. It stood out in the dark blue ocean like a jewel.
We arrived at 6 PM and the sun was already very low on the horizon. I had forgotten that there is little between day and night, this close to the equator.
A taxi brought me to the appointed restaurant, close to a small pier. I had calculated an hour to get from the airport to this point, which means I got there 50 minutes early. Bonaire really is a small island. But I saw Blue Pearl, bobbing between other sailboats just offshore, moored to a buoy. And Joline saw me. As she climbed into the dinghy with daughter#1 and daughter#2, I felt my eyes fill up. There she was, there they were, in one piece, safe and sound, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat. I hadn’t seen them in over a year.
“Auntie Cat, did you bring my mermaid tail?”, daughter#2 called out, as soon as she was close enough.
I just laughed and waved to her, trying to lift the twenty pound bag filled with supplies for the boat, which dwarfed my own bag of clothes. A mermaid tail, 12 pounds of coffee, 2 pairs of shoes, Dutch snacks and an alternator (whatever that is) for the motor.
Joline and I hugged and I felt right at home. The year was completely forgotten. We chatted all the way to Blue Pearl, where I saw René again, looking healthier and more tanned than ever. They showed me the ship, and taught me the house rules, such as not wasting water, and how to pump out the toilet after use. And daughter#2, attaching herself to my hip, explained that the dinghy was called “Tiny Pearl, cause it’s white”.
After I had emptied the requested supplies out of my bag, and the girls were playing with their new toys, I put my stuff belowdeck. When I next looked out, it was pitch black outside. The sunset had come and gone within a manner of minutes.