Willemstad from Commercial Dock
Ship purported carrying boom scheduled arrival Wednesday. Stop. Due customs and
handling, slim possibility of sweaty mitts on it Friday. Stop. Perhaps Monday.
Stop. Dididit. Didididit. Didit. Dah. Stop.
After a day of riding buses, first to Best Buy Super Market for the odd grocery,
then to Caribbean Cargo for customs paperwork and glad tidings of delayed joy
(from which walk back seemed much longer than as observed through bus window
going), hopped on again to Willemstad for, among other things, an early dinner of
exquisite Caribbean cuisine. Nearly chose KFC in honor of Inspiration Lady crew
(returning to paradise this evening from frigid windswept wasteland), but sudden
urge to avoid coronary bypass drew me to nearby Subway instead.
"Very little is known of the Canadian country since it is rarely visited by
anyone but the Queen and illiterate sport fishermen."
- P. J. O'Rourke
Lesson for the day: Big buses have set routes. Little buses, while posting
destinations, do not. Passengers must provide enlightenment upon boarding.
Enjoyed lovely excursion through hitherto unknown parts of Curacao, helping
everyone else disembark and banter with amiable driver prior to returning home
thirty minutes late.
After clearing in with immigration and, just outside secure area where it is located, watching two kids steal the hubcaps from a parked car, enjoyed a good breakfast at tree shaded, outdoor Cafe Habana on a plein (square) beside the movable pontoon bridge over Willemstad's entrance channel (not much wider than the cruise ships that sometimes come in... and back out). Looking at adoring posters of Che and Fidel, and realizing that the waiters were quite happy serving a capitalist pig (our smart and lovable porcine friends often, as here, get a bad rap), it occurred to me how few people really appreciate the ideas and concepts that animate revolutionaries like Guevara and, for example, Thomas Jefferson whom they may idolize and support. No matter the disparate results of actualizing vastly different philosophies, there is something, sophistry or not, in any set of ideas that nearly anyone can latch onto, rationalizing the rest. Good, well- meaning people, it seems, are just as likely to espouse and support the philosophy of a charismatic leader that demonstrably damages their freedom, quality of life and societal structure as one that enhances them. Afterward, was able to rationalized a scoop of mood-enhancing ice cream and felt guilty (but it helped with that other thing).
"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." - Douglas Adams
On a brighter note, signed on to reasonably priced and very fast wifi internet and had reunion with several friends, British and Dutch/Canadian, not seen for many months. Another Canadian couple, whose boat is on the hard, are returning from travels tomorrow. Delightful, upbeat people, all.
Well, after some scintillating repartee and a few beers, I feel vastly better. You OK?
Departed Kralendijk mooring before sunrise for a better than expected sail to Curacao. Yankee carried the boat at 4.5, then, as true wind increased to lower 20s, up to 6.3 knots in 3 foot seas on the port quarter. A few sprinkles en route was just enough to cause a layer of deposited wind-borne dust from Bonaire to clump into untidy little piles. Looking for a good gully washer.
Crew arrives Tuesday. Boom arrives Wednesday. Boat fixed Thursday. Wow! That was easy. Meantime, will continue messing with arrangement of particulars to accommodate three souls, two of whom may care about being comfortable(ish).
Spanish (Spaanse) Water, a large, nearly landlocked, irregular bay, located five miles and 20 minutes by bus southeast of the capitol, Willemstad, is the cruising center. Was sceptical of claim for no mosquitos, but discovered that air whips through anchorage like a wind tunnel. No insects; amps out the wazoo; bar close by where Night Hawk and Going South crews set bad example for me to emulate. Doesn't suck so far.
Agenda tomorrow: bus ride to clear in, get lay of the land and find various friends in area. Can't think of a reason to get up before cruisers net at 0745. Unlikely to overheat ganglia trying.
Chase VISA is off friends and family list due putting temporary hold on payments for boom and items ordered on-line to be carried to Curacao next week by crew. Spent delightful morning confirming all bits in transit after Liz, last night, pummeled card fraud lackeys into submission. This is third time for these donkey orifices and possibly last.
Balance of day spent on rented scooter with barely enough power to get out of its own way and bad shocks. Discovered that outback of Bonaire is filled mostly with cactus and seven species of lizard, some quite fleet. Saw one big, amorous guy, looking to knock off a little iguana, if you get my drift, getting the cold shoulder from a lady (gave her benefit of doubt) at about 20 miles an hour. Also noted many donkeys (passed up chance to visit Donkey Heaven) and goats plus, incongruously, since most of the place is desert, a sizeable population of flamingos, some of which, being almost orange, must eat a lot of whatever does that.
Two useless facts: Eight kinds of bat are the only native mammals and bats, world-wide, make up 1/6th of all mammal species. Awe and amaze your friends at the next polo match with this fascinating data care of Washington Slagbaai National Park Museum where a time-line depiction references events on the island to, among other things, the deaths of Chairman Mao and Elvis. Unable to divine what must surely be a message.
Lac Bay, on south windward coast, is locale for wind surfing center at Jibe City. Didn't see the first kite. Most at beach bar (where frickandellen was found, unsurprisingly, to be chubby sausages) were a tad rotund to use the nearby 'pros only' storage area.
Jibe City, Windmills, Cactus Fences, Flamingo, KLM MD11 at Airport
Retrieved most of injured paraphernalia from various locales about the island, all in same woeful state as when parcelled out. Radio will wend its way back home manana as, possibly, the only better-made bit. Clearing out and subsequent return of assault weapon, flare gun should complete preparation for what promises to be a bumpy, downwind sail to Curacao Wednesday morning.
And now for the restaurant section. Should someone discover by chance, deviousness (perhaps your sig-o (abbreviation for significant other sounds suspiciously like sicko) has administered drugs from which you have just awoken (reference yesterday's query)) or conscious act, that your coordinates are consistent with Bonaire (you could check position on a cool new iPhone or just ask someone), find Mona Lisa Restaurant and stay for dinner. (I know the last sentence seems confusing, but diagram it like Mrs. McCaskel made you do in high school for perfect clarity) It's all been terrific: barracuda, wahoo, pork sate. Don't burn your tongue on the au gratin potatoes.
Flocks of flamingos will parade their plumage once I secure a scooter for investigating the island... tomorrow (reason, besides weather, for delaying until day after). Scheduled cruise ship necessitates early rental to preclude getting skunked, so ta ta.
For anyone finding himself (despite what you may think, this word is generic and refers also to women) in Bonaire (while this implies surprise, the effort necessary to get here would normally preclude an unexpected arrival) and Jonesing for breakfast, City Cafe is a fine choice. This determination was reached after running its price, quality, quantity profile through the BARF (breakfast associated restaurant finder) algorithm. Crispy bacon (first since US); fast wifi; view of the sea. One caveat, ask for eggs over easy lest they be vulcanized (no relation to Spock). Two untried dinner specialties are bitterballen and frickandellen... those wacky Dutch!
Was stunned and amazed to see, on commercial dock this morning, cruise ship that, to all outward appearance, was a boat. Since new liners look like enormous, newly built, high rise housing projects, this one, also being rather small, must be of rather archaic vintage. Was easily able to stifle normal groan upon first sighting.
Apologies to anyone expecting immediate reply after leaving a comment on website. Editor and social secretary are quite lax. Unable to fire either due to close relationship to captain. Would threaten flogging, but believe it unlikely this would help.
Little open on shore, Sunday, so after purchasing gas at $4.58/gal. and settling with Harbour Village Marina on mooring fees, squandered day with movies, books, arranging boat for crew and unconsciousness.
One might think cruisers an independent lot. Au contraire. More like a ragtag military. They tend to campaign in groups and bivouac together to pillage and plunder seaside villages with occasional raiding forays into the countryside. Rucksacks containing provisions, change of uniform and various weapons (flashlights, etc.) are commonly carried. Then, of course, there's the uniform, itself. Sandals (non-marking soles), shorts, with T-shirts and ball caps promoting some previous island or a bar thereon. Although periodic substitutes are lace-up boat shoes, bathing suits, collared shirts (formal events) and floppy wide-brimmed hats, you know, on sight, who they are. If not selling something, locals try to ignore the tramping feet.
Heavy cogitating on all facets of current situation has led, despite enjoyment of Bonaire, to alteration in strategy (a rather free-flow process, at best). Intend, if loose ends (including five bits of property abroad upon the land, six if boom counts twice) get properly tied, sail of 35 nautical miles, probably Wednesday next week, to Curacao. Receipt of new spar will occur a day earlier (ship goes there first), nephew and niece-in-law (Will & Richena), hereinafter referred to as the crew, will save cost of hotel plus shuttle from there to here and location adjustment will result in reunion with friends, conceivably referred to as the Eastern Caribbean Irregulars, presently wreaking havoc in Spanish Water.
Meanwhile, there exist fish, rum and eyelids to be, respectively, eaten, drunk and examined. Let the process begin.
"All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse." - Benjamin Franklin
Just another beautiful day in paradise. Planned no planning (oxymoron?). Ok, breakfast was a plan, but that was it, well, except for coordinating with Botterop Construction on old and new booms and having them weld a broken casting from Voyager wind vane. But, that was it, absolutely, except for... Never mind.
Rum has been sadly neglected since mishap, which has forced upon me a certain obligation to sugarcane growers everywhere. Incentive to imbibe was also reduced by attempt to drink truly awful Depaz rum from Martinique. Don't know what happened; tasted OK on the distillery tour. May use it, instead, to subdue fish after capture, should there be further such instances. Outrageously cheap gin previously used is actually drinkable with sufficient oliveage (not a real word).
A particularly obnoxious BUTT (Big Ugly Tourist Transporter - cruise ship) steamed in this morning to despoil view and clutter shops in Kralendijk. Had heard island would be spared the ignominy for a few days. At least lagging economy gets a boost.
Went in later to call for Mercy. She handles shipments to Bonaire for Amcar Freight (package, indicated to arrive at shipper today, didn't). Also, in chronological order, provided scruffy local color for polyester clad hoards, called better half (visiting loved ones in West St. Paul, MN) with iPod and lightened personal onus as indicated in paragraph two, before and after wahoo (no Cal, it's a fish) dinner at Mona Lisa Bar.
Reef Below Anthem's Keel
Have been informed that focus on boom has apparently resulted in some loss of equanimity. Tend to handle unfinished business by obsessing or completely ignoring, sometimes alternatingly (not really a word). I'll get over it.
Well, he said with newly found sangfroid, the cogs of commerce have begun to grind slowly forward toward the joyful result of returning Anthem to wholeness. Manufacturer, shipper and freight company are all totally resolved, with their last ounces, respectively, of dedication (more sangfroid), to have this process result in a useable spar (at least all the various bits) arriving in Bonaire on December 3rd or 4th. About here, euphoria is somewhat muted, but no delay should be caused as plans included remaining until about then, anyway. Besides, Bonaire doesn't suck.
Took a break at midday to scare multitudinous aquatic life at north end of Klein Island with Night Hawks and Emily Graces. Presumably at the behest of Bonaire rather than fear of losing equipment to depths, Yellow Submarine Diving requires, before renting Scuba tank, a buoyancy checkout wearing all gear. Hold your breath, you float. Let it out, you sink. At this point breathing through regulator becomes as critical to checkee as to checker. Personal tank has been remiss in not getting itself hydrostatically checked, due every five years, so will endure scowls and oblique insults until next availability in a week.
Dinner: Personally sauted actual potatoes with stewed tomatoes and refried beans with, umm, stewed tomatoes (hey! the can was open). Eat your heart out Emeril.
Unable to duplicate defunct Isomat spar, but found good replacements from either Z-spars or Selden at reasonable price, no problem. Getting 17 foot, 55 pound chunk of aluminum to Bonaire sometime this year? "Hold on there pard". Working fingers to nub for solution. (Anybody remember song by Hoyt Axton "Bony Fingers"?) From Monday forward, kept thinking 'tomorrow' will conclude all but awaiting arrival of boom. Silly rabbit. Also, no word from VHF radio.
Had opportunity for extensive use of really cool, new iPod Touch using Skype to organize (probably too optimistic a term) making Anthem, again, the sleek, sexy sailing machine she once was. One finds amusement as one can. Have utilized free wifi at a Watta Burger (couldn't make this up). Haven't yet, but figure to owe them the month or two one of their greasy, ground delicacies will shorten my life.
If efforts are rewarded reasonably early (plan to hold breath until turning blue to coerce action) will do some diving. Water is crystal clear, reef starts right behind transom and extends pretty much everywhere.
And now, in an effort to fill out today's highly uninspired commentary, a quote.
"I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them." - E. V. Lucas