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Bonaire Day 6: Flamingoes, and Donkeys, and Lizards! Oh my!

After a good night's sleep, we woke and were ready for a dry (no diving) day touring the northern end of the island, the village of Rincon, and the Washington Slagbaai National Park. We headed north on the coastal road, stopping at a marked dive site called Oil Slick Leap just to take a look.

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At the northern end of the coastal road lies BOPEC, the Venezuelan state-owned oil storage facility. All week we could see tankers lined up in the distance ready to load or offload their cargo.

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East of BOPEC is Lake Gotomeer, a saltwater lake and home to flamingoes during the January thru July breeding season. We missed out on seeing any flamingoes on this day but the view from the observatory was beautiful anyway.

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Leaving Gotomeer, we continued eastward to the village of Rincon. The oldest town on Bonaire, it was founded in the early 16th century after Vespucci arrived on Bonaire, claiming ownership for Spain. It's a sleepy little village dotted with colorful buildings and tall cactus. We were getting hungry by this point so we decided to stop at a little place called Le-Ma-Se, owned by the ever friendly Norman, for a bite to eat. The "restaurant" is really an extension of Norman's family home.

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Norman is famous for his creamy milkshakes and he does have a menu but that doesn't really matter. You eat what Norman serves you.

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What that meant for us was a cup of Norman's homemade squash soup and a couple of drinks while we waited for the main attraction.

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The main attraction was a pastechi, a flaky crust stuffed with meat of your choice. I chose beef while Mike chose tuna. It was served with the famous Bonaire mango sweet and sour sauce. Now I don't know why this sauce is so popular on Bonaire since there are no mangoes growing on the island and sweet and sour sauce is not exactly Dutch or Spanish but it's delicious and that was good enough for us.

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After writing a message in Norman's guestbook and a lecture to Mike about drinking the Venezuelan beer, Polar, Norman was kind enough to send us on our way to the park with a cheese pastechi on the house.

We followed the road out of Rincon and arrived at the Washington Slagbaai National Park. The park was established in 1969 and now consists of about 13,500 protected acres. Previously, the area was used to produce salt, charcoal, aloe vera, and goats for export.

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At the entrance is a museum, restroom, and souvenir shop that actually sells beer.

Skeleton of a juvenile baleen whale hit by a cruise ship in 2000 and restored by a Bonaire youth group

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Donkey saddle

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Original mask and regulator of Captain Don, founder of tourist diving on Bonaire

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Before heading off into the park, we made a restroom pit stop. On Bonaire, no words are needed to tell you which bathroom to use.

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There are two scenic routes through the park--the long route (four hours) and the short route (two hours). The long route was closed due to heavier than usual rain this time of year so we set upon the short route.

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Mt. Brandaris, the tallest point on Bonaire at 784 feet above sea level

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Our first stop on the route was Playa Funchi, home to flamingoes and lots of iguanas and lizards who seemed eager to pose for photos.

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Next stop was Wayaka, a popular snorkel and dive site.

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The final stop was Boca Slagbaai, also a popular snorkel and dive site.

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We didn't have much time at the beach because they close the park at 5 p.m. sharp and rangers were already here telling people to pack it up and start heading out. It was another hour's drive or so back to the entrance so we scarfed down our free cheese pastechi, took some photos, and were on our way.

The candle cactus seen all over this northern end of the island is also used by the locals to make fences.

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This house just outside of the park made convenient use of a telephone booth. You can see their house phone inside instead of a pay phone.

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On the way back to our condo, we stopped at Boca Onima on the rough, northern coast. The entire coastline was made up of sharp, mafic igneous rock with embedded fossil imprints of coral.

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I picked up some sea glass.

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Down the road from Boca Onima are Indian inscriptions on the cave walls. The drawings are believed to be made by the Caiqueto Indians, a tribe of the Arawak Indians brought over from Venezuela to be used as laborers in the early 16th century.

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We had to dodge the bees that made a hive in the cave.

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These wild donkeys were hanging out on the coastline. One was very suspicious of Mike.

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We were already getting hungry again so we headed straight into town for dinner on the waterfront at Paradise Moon.

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We started with an appetizer of walking sticks, fried pastries filled with cream cheese and jalapenos, served with that yummy mango sweet and sour sauce.

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Mike ordered the pulled pork tacos and I ordered shrimp fajitas. He loved the tacos but my shrimp were pretty bland. Both were served with refried beans and saffron rice which we hated.

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After dinner, we felt a bit like hanging out in town so we went across the street to Karel's Beach Bar to end the night with a few drinks and a lovely view from the pier of the waterfront at night.

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Posted by zihuatcat 15:39 Archived in Netherlands Antilles

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