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Bonaire Day 2: Happy Birthday to Me!

Our first full day on Bonaire dawned and Mike was up early getting the dive gear set up for our first dives. BDA has a very convenient process for diving. Each diver is assigned a number and there is a gear room where you can hang all your dive gear and wetsuits to dry on assigned pegs. Down at the dock, there are stations built in where you can set up your gear then sit down and slide ride into it. Tanks are available 24/7 down on the dock and you only need to check the pressure, analyze the nitrox, and sign them out.

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If you want to dive off site, another room of tanks is located up by the parking lot so you can just back your truck up and load them up.

Our first dive on Bari, our house reef, started about 10 a.m. Since I was getting acclimated to ocean diving, we decided not to take the underwater camera down this first day. We geared up and jumped off the pier then went down to head to the reef. The reef itself is about 50 yards out from shore. Right off the dock, it's about 15 feet deep and the bottom is strewn with broken coral and rocks. There is lots of marine life in this area so it makes an interesting swim back and forth to the reef. There is an old aquarium pipe on the ocean floor that you can follow out to where the reef starts at about 30 feet. At the point where the reef starts, you then assess the direction of the current (usually from the north), and head into the current. When you've used about 1/2 your tank of air, you turn around and ride the current back to the pipe. Almost immediately upon hitting the reef, we saw two large squid swim right by us. For the remainder of the dive, I stayed around 35 feet. Mike did a bounce down to 111 feet to the bottom of the reef and another bounce down to about 80 feet to see what was down there then joined me again as we came back up to the shallows. The visibility was so clear that even when he was at the bottom, he was still able to see me at the top of the reef. After completing our first dives successfully, we went back to to the condo for our surface interval and some lunch.

Looking south from our balcony towards town and Eden Beach Hotel.

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Looking north from our balcony towards the national park and Buddy Dive Hotel.

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Looking west from our balcony towards the small, uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire.

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Looking directly down from our balcony to the restaurant and beach.

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Around 1:30 we got back in the water for the second dive of the day. For this dive, I asked Mike to stay pretty close to me so that I would feel more comfortable going deeper. I did a gradual descent down to about 66 feet. He did an initial bounce to about 85 feet then came back up to my level to hang with me for a while. As we were swimming along the reef, out of the blue came a huge tarpon that must have weighed about 100 pounds. He was completely unconcerned with us and had obviously just been feeding because he let out a big burp and large bubbles floated up. Then he disappeared from sight again. We continued on and finished another successful dive.

Before dinner, we made a beer run to the local store within walking distance of our condo.

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Now the cost of most things in Bonaire is pretty on par with the U.S. It's not cheap like Mexico but it's not ridiculous expensive either. Except for beer. The "local" beer is Dutch-made Amstel Bright or Heineken and both are sold for about $12-$13 per six pack. Needless to say, this was a big expense of the trip.

Since it was my birthday and we wanted to do something special, we had dinner reservations at a restaurant downtown called Appetite.

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Appetite has a regular menu, of course, but they also do a short course menu. You choose whether you want four or five courses and tell the chef what you're allergic to or absolutely don't like. The chef then surprises you with whatever he decides to prepare for each of your courses. We started off with the cocktail of the day, a tequila sunrise, and an amuse-bouche of fish pâté with pickled vegetables and fresh bread with herb mayonnaise, herb oil, and Bonaire sea salt.

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The first course was a salad of tiger shrimp with shrimp pâté, avocado, and orange marmalade dressing. This was my favorite course.

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The second course was roasted duck breast with red onion compote, apple slices, potato cake, and asparagus. Mike was not a fan of the duck but I loved this course.

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The third course was cheek of veal, grilled zucchini and tomatoes, and potatoes au gratin. This was Mike's favorite course.

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Finally, the fourth course was a dessert of homemade raspberry ice cream, blackberry mousse, and fresh strawberries in phyllo.

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We were very full and happy diners when dinner was done and it was an incredible birthday experience.

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Posted by zihuatcat 12:22 Archived in Netherlands Antilles

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Appetite is one of our fav restuarants - we did the four course tasting, too!

by Jessie

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