Our recent trip started on a small island in the Caribbean. Bonaire is about 50 miles north of Venezuela and accessible via many commercial airlines and small planes that travel between Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba.
It’s government is connected with the Netherlands in some complicated ways that I do not fully understand. (I think it used to be part of a country that was associated with the Netherlands, and now it is a ‘municipality’, but I am not clear on the details of the current or prior relationship). My understanding is that anyone born in Bonaire has Dutch citizenship and vice-versa. There were many Dutch tourists and inhabitants on the island. I also think they follow the same laws as the Netherlands.
The local language is called Papiamento, and it apparently combines some dutch with a few other languages.
Most locals speak Papiamento, Dutch, and English. At least. This was fortunate for us given our lack of Papiamento or Dutch. However, for the most part the grocery stores carried items with labels entirely in Dutch. The language is so different to anything I know that I couldn’t make out hardly any words, making shopping a fun adventure!
Getting around was quite easy. We rented a car on the second day, and it is a fairly small island and pretty easy to navigate. (Of course I wasn’t the one driving and didn’t have quite the same grasp of direction as my husband did).
The drinking water is desalinized ocean water. Electricity is apparently very expensive. Gas was surprisingly cheap, given that most of the rest of the world pays far more than we do in the United States. Food seemed pretty expensive depending on the items, and eating out was at least as expensive as Juneau, Alaska, where we live and where I consider restaurants relatively expensive.
When we picked up our car, we were told to always leave the doors unlocked. They say that if you lock it then potential thieves think there is something valuable and will break in. With that said, the island seemed quite safe and we were told that it is – but it was also clear that in some rural areas people like to either take valuable things or take things just to screw with people. We had no trouble, but it was an interesting concept to leave the doors unlocked. It meant very few pictures since we went to dive, and I couldn’t leave my camera/phone in the unlocked car.
We had a lovely visit and it is a place I would recommend. I thought it would be mostly dive tourists, but there were a lot of non-diving tourists there, and also one or more cruise ships in port on most days.
More on the diving and other adventures in Bonaire to come.