Friday, December 21, 2007

Back to the U.S.A.

Our friends the Joch’s graciously let us stay at their mansion in Key Biscayne. Key Biscayne is just an incredible place to bike as a family. The quiet neighborhoods of mansions, bike lanes and cross walks on the main road and public parks on both ends, one of which used to be a zoo. Collectively we had 3 spills and Sabrina almost “met her maker” crossing a street when she was told to stop. Tragedy avoided, we made our way back for an incredible afternoon feast we all helped prepare. It was the maid’s day off so two beautiful babes and me in the kitchen, I wasn’t complaining. Topped up and repacked with clean dry laundry Orlando was calling. Hugs and kisses to the Joch’s and we were singing Christmas carols along the I-95 concrete corridor of SE Florida. That didn’t seem to appropriate so we tuned in some hip hop pop to pass the time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Leaving Crystal and Stormy Nights

A few days later, Crystal finally sails in from the islands of Venezuela. To welcome them, I made arrangements for dinner on the beach at the Bonaire Beach Club Resort. After sundowners we zoom off down the coast to dinner. Since we made reservations and were a large party they had set up a large linen covered table on the beach with candlelight and everything. For $10/adult we enjoy an all you can eat BBQ buffet on the beach! We are all tied up at Hanks dock. The kids can roam freely with their scooters, snorkel under the dock checking out the over dozen moray eels and even bone fish. Bone fish are the prize of saltwater fly fisherman. They are mystical, elusive, and put up a great fight. I confirmed what Doug and Kim had said, the reality is they spend their days rooting around in the shallow sand like a pig looking for a snack. The kids enjoyed making Xmas cookies and delivering them around the anchorage.

Bonaire was quite lush thanks to the most unusual rain showers and cloud cover that came every afternoon while we were there. This island rarely sees much rain as evidenced by its arid dessert landscape covered in cactus and other prickly scrubby vegetation. As much as we could have stayed here for a long while we told the kids we had to get going to Aruba. This met with much resistance by the children as Crystal was staying behind. As much as we were trying to keep our Christmas plans a secret for the kids, Angie finally caved under Sabrina’s constant badgering and full fledged fit about leaving her best boating friend yet again. “Why do we have to leave!” she relentlessly screamed. “Because we are going to Florida and Disney for Christmas with the grandparents!! There, are you happy now??!!” Not quite how I envisioned surprising our children with a very costly and choreographed gift. It reminded me of the scene in Chevy Chase’s Family Vacation when he says “This is not a vacation, this is a quest! It’s a quest to have fun! In fact, we are going to have so much g@#$% ^&*$#@ fun, you’ll be whistling Dixie out you’re %ss! The stormy evening continued as the most squally high wind passage ever.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beautiful Bonaire and the Junk Man

The contrasts between Venezuela and Bonaire were evident in our stroll to Immigration. We could wear our watch and wallet vs. cash in our underwear. The classic architecture vs. iron bar art and barbed wire in VZ. Money came from ATM’s vs the black market. Bonaire had a master plan with bikes rolling by vs. deteriorating buildings with ghetto buses rambling along pot holed roads. We wore jewelry , carried wallets, and the kids played on the promenade. The Dutch know how to do it right. Bonaire is a micro Netherlands, soon to be the Netherlands, with proper architecture, codes, culture, zoning, conservation, etc but without the free heroin syringes and girls in the windows like in Amsterdam. Guess you can’t have it all.

Upon arriving we picked up a 10/day mooring as no anchoring is permitted. For the same price including electricity and high speed wireless, you can stay at Club Nautico, a T dock marina run by Hank and his family and they charge $10/day. Hank owns two Mantas, Ushi Ushi and Dushi Dushi (means beautiful girl) and with his sons run day charters for tourists.

Safara, with Mark, Kirsten, Nick, and Ben, is a kid boat we in and had not seen since Trinidad. For $50/day we rented an open bed extended cab mini pickup truck and went on an island tour for the entire day. We cruised by the beautiful homes, the crystal clear seashore, took in the vistas, saw some ancient hieroglyphs, watched the waves come crashing into the coral island on the windward side, watched the kite boarders, saw the slave huts near the salt flats, observed the pink flamingos, had lunch in the locals town, and last but not least met the Junk Man and his property.

As we were nearing the end of our island tour on the NE end we passed this “property” lined with painted up junk and memorabilia. All I know is a hand painted rusty sign arranged amongst a bunch of other signs in Patwa said welcome and that was all I needed to say let’s stop and have a look. Beach trash, a shell of private jet, old cars, appliances, and anything you can imagine that people would have in their home or business that they no longer wanted ended up here. The edifice was set back some 100 meters from the road and his back yard was dense mangroves of the ocean where Angie determined no one could hear our screams. We’re goin’ in boys as we were greeted by Thomas. Sanford and Sons junkyard in the tropics. Inside his home, he had mannequins, many of which were sleeping in bedrooms As a memory he got all of us dressed up in sombreros and guitars and had us take photos with him. The guy was crazy, but in a fun way. Off to the wind mills and slave huts before the rent-a-car time was up. A great day was had by all.