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Thread: Trip Report - March 14-28

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Washington DC
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    Default Trip Report - March 14-28

    9th time in 9 years to paradise. Needless to say, it's our home away from home. We've met great friends on Bonaire, and have started sharing our love of the island with some friends and family in the last few years; divers and snorkelers alike. Shockingly, now the problem is that they all want to go with us every time.

    This year we flew Delta From DCA to BON through ATL. The way there was flawless. Nice. The way home was great except they lost our luggage...all four peices. But Bonaire has taught us to appreciate what's great, and not sweat the small stuff. So I won't spend time here.

    We broke up our 2 week trip between 2 individual weeks. First week was just my partner and I, and, our amazing friends that own on Bon and are there for 3 months. Second week, we rented a house, and had our sister and brother-in-law, and 2 of our friends from SF join us.

    We rented trucks this time from Bonaire bike rentals-first time using them. Because Telerin was full. We've decided that it's worth the convenience of renting older trucks, through companies that meet you at the airport and allow you to drop off at the airport (without standing in lines at major rental companies, both ways). AND, they take AMEX so I can use my premium auto insurance plan.

    That said, although I confirmed the day before, when we arrived they did not have a truck for us. So we had a car for a day and a half. But they gave us a discount. Had we not been experienced with Bonaire travel, we may have stressed out. But, not a chance. No worries. All worked out.

    Second week, same company, again confirmed 24 hours in advance, in-person, did not have a truck for our guests. Another day without a truck. And, tried to charge us $50 more for a "new truck" (because of limited availability all of a sudden: not our problem, as we made a deal in advance). Funny thing, the truck could not have been older. Clean? Yes, totally, but rusted, un-working tailgate, no suspension, etc. But all good. Only point is you must know your deal, If I let my friend (whose truck it was but was new to Bon) sign for it, he would have been taken for an extra $50. But all good. Rental company wa totally laid back, which was great. And, us uptight Americans need to learn to be laid back too. Not everything works out exactly how you expect. But it always works out.

    Accommodations:
    1st week - hub and I rented an apt at seaside oceanfront (first time there, we normally stay at BOA but was full). Price was pretty right. Ocean view. Bare bones. Nice. updated amenities and appliances. Tiny. great balcony and view. No dive accommodations (thankfully we kept our dive gear at BOA where we often stay, and where our friends own, and where we rent from Buddy's). Some highlights though, were that it felt secure. The door locks like a hotel, behind you, with akey card. Awesome, especially when you’re carrying dive regs and coolers allthe time…hands full. Tiny little place, but fine for us. View was great overlookingocean. Pool interesting, like a splash pool. Never got in, b/c we had ourfriends pool down the street. If we hadn'thad the dive accommodations we had, would have been a bit of a problem. AlthoughI think they have an agreement with dive friends on the next block so maybewould have been ok. We'd rent there again in a pinch.

    2nd week: Rented a house: Casa Del mar- 3rd time renting it in a year. We love the layout and the dive site right out front: Small wall. Some of the best snorkeling on the island in our opinion. This is great as some of our guests were not divers. Casa Del Mar is great, but pricey. It needs some updating, and the owner has decided he does not want to have a grill there. evidently people don't clean up properly. But this is not acceptable to us. A house that sleeps 8 with no grill? ? ? . Nice setting though. Only issue is that 2 BR share bathroom. But we like it for it's pool and ocean access (but it's over rocks, not the easiest but easy for us).

    We dove mainly town sites, with exception of a few of our fav north sites, andrea, tolo, karpata. We also dove the lake, salt pier and margate bay to the south. Diving was splendid as always. In addition to the usual reef suspects, we saw a couple frog fish, squid, octopus (2 on our last 2 dives), lots of turtles (including snorkeling off our back yard), and a ray.

    Funny story: We were entering dive at Andrea, hub, bro-in-law and myself. Hub and I were video’ing and taking pics of bro-in-laws leaking o-ring, while he was waiving, thinking we were just taking his pics. Meanwhile, hub started to flood his wetsuit from his shorts. Couldn’t figure out what he was doing. Thought he was lifting his shorty to pee.
    We got out and he said ‘damn, something was stinging the **** outta me! I didn’t know whether it was a bee in my wet suit, a wasp, a fire ant, or a freakin’ scorpion (kidding)!”
    He had us look but no mark on his back side. The next day, he got up but went back for a nap – we figured he was hung over – had a lot of fun the night prior. Then my sister-in-law said, “Craig, can you come get the scorpion out of the washing machine. I washed Billy’s swim trunks.” Damn if there was not a dead scorpion in the wash. It gets better...
    I grabbed the dead, stiff scorpion with a paper towel, then with my bare hands once i realized it was stiff dead. We decided when Billy got up, we were going to put it on his drink lid. But I couldn’t wait. I went upstairs and said “bud, you GOT STUNG BY A SCORPION IN YOUR WETSUIT!” He said, no way. I said, yes, it’s downstairs on the table. I’ll show you. I went down stairs and…it was gone. I went out to the pool…”Jen, did you move that scorpion or did the wind blow it off…?” She said “I didn’t touch it.” Finally I found it around the corner on the table. The wind…so we thought, logically.
    But when I went to pick it up (dead), IT MOVED! YEST IT WAS ALIVE! Yes It came back from the dead. No kidding. It went for a dive in his wetsuit for an hour, than for an hour washing machine cycle, then came back to life. So of course we kept it as our pet for the week in a Tupperware. Then we let it go the day we left (hub works for the Nat'l Zoo in DC - big animal lover - even stingers!). Crazy. Like a cockroach – probably one of the few creatures to survive a nuclear war. Carzy but one of our highlights.

    Eats: thankfully our friends on the island lent us their grill so after spending all that money on Casa Del mar, we were able to enjoy it with cooking out on several nights. Otherwise we ate at our favorite twice (It rains fishes), Mi Banana (local, loved it), rib factory (love it), capt dons (rum runners), buddy's, and also chibi chibi (divi flamingo - very disappointed especially with the chef evidently winning best of carribean), and Roses - which is great but shocking how pricey it is for what it is. We make our breakfast and lunches for the most part.

    A note on It Rains fishes: We were told by two different sources, to our shock, that the servers DO NOT GET ANY TIP that you leave. That it goes to the owners. I wish I knew this in advance b/c I would not give the owners an additional $100 on $500 bill, over and above the food/booze costs – especially when the servers were delightful. Next time I will confirm and give the cash tip to the server directly. That sucks since the servers are what makes the experience so great. And we've already paid for the great food as part of the check.

    Another complaint worth mentioning - won't come as a shock I bet. While we love the setting at the Cappacino bar (down the dock from Karel's), and while I know what to expect, it is shocking to me how bad the service is. And I know, it's on-island, and no rush nor criticism...but it's still shocking how may times they will come back and provide different options for a bourbon and gingerale, and an irish coffee (when stated, just coffee with any wiskey). oh the fun. Must have a sense of humor.

    Knock on wood - we had no incidents with crime. KNOCK ON WOOD. We have had minor issues in the past (once in 9 years) but never been robbed (truck attempted to be stolen). But I try to balance between being very smart and vigilant (always lock all doors and windows - also when sleeping, don't leave things laying around in the open), while not being a freak about it. And it's worked so far. I leave nothing in our truck I don't want stolen, nor that will entice a robber. THEN - HAVE FUN and don't worry about it! Don't be naive. people will rob you if you give them the option. But it's nothing compared to the crime we experience in the U.S. But be smart.

    Another great trip to Bonaire. We just love it. I have a ton of pics and videos, need to pair them down but hopefully once I do, I'll post some here. I shouldn't complain, but I've learned over the years to take things with a grain of salt. Which I do. And to realize how uptight (and entitled) we can be at times. So mentioning these things in a trip report I hope helps others with their expectations. I know in the beginning I used this forum to learn (as I do with most things). Hopefully I hope someone have an awesome time in paradise.

    Oh! And we met Dave and Leslie (LL), at Bari’s reef. Love when you canconnect the dots. Great peeps!

    Until next time, we never can wait!!!

    Craig (and Billy)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Hi Craigcap. Thanks for the detailed report. It surprises me that the wait staff don't get the tips at It Rains Fishes? Bad news. Thanks for letting us know. And I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about poor service on Karels pier. We used to love going here in the afternoons when we were served by Edith. She works inside now if you want good service with a smile.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Barbara, Bonaire
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    We 2nd some of your opinions of Casa Del Mar. We stay there for 2 weeks each July or August. Last year during our first week we dove Something Special and while gearing up my wife felt something in her wet suit leg. She is deathly afraid of all bugs and ripped her wet suit off while screaming bloody murder. Sure enough there was a scorpion. After she calmed down we had a great dive. During the 2nd week we came back after morning dives down south and found one floating in the pool. I scooped him out with the net and set him in the rocks to the left. I went back an hour later and couldn't find him. I assumed that a bird or iguana had eaten him. Maybe he lived, crawled into some hole to dry out, and decided to go on a dive with you this year.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    97

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisa View Post
    Hi Craigcap. Thanks for the detailed report. It surprises me that the wait staff don't get the tips at It Rains Fishes? Bad news. Thanks for letting us know. And I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about poor service on Karels pier. We used to love going here in the afternoons when we were served by Edith. She works inside now if you want good service with a smile.
    I was also told a similar story regarding tips at another island restaurant. I would like to know for sure if it is true. I find it a bit hard to believe that a wait staff would continue to work very long for an establishment that had such a policy, unless of course the owner paid a very handsome salary to begin with.

    While I do not have any first hand knowledge of how the system works on Bonaire, it has occurred to me that, possibly, this is just a way of encouraging customers to leave cash tips so that they do not have to report them for tax purposes, rather than a situation where the owner keeps the charged tips. For some reason many feel that waiters should not be taxed on their tips and feel leaving cash is a good thing. Personally, I have a problem with that thinking. There are many low paid workers whose wages are reported and there are many wait staff people who make very good incomes, especially in the better restaurants. Why should they not be taxed as well?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Michigan
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    320

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    Every time we go to Bonaire it is truly the best experience with meeting new friends, new restaurants,and seeing all of our underwater neighbors again. As far as restaurants we leave only cash that way we know it goes to the pocket of the wait staff. When we dive and the dive masters help us get in and out of the boats the tips are definitely cash too. We stay at the Divi every year since it's our time share. I wanted to share a photo of a trash bin by the walkway near us. I call it "after a hard day of diving" lol. Take care everybody. It's snowing outside again in the Detroit area......DSC00303.jpg

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Washington DC
    Posts
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    Wow you made my day. Too funny. Thanks a lot! Or maybe, since I live in DC and you live in Annapolis, you brought the damn thing home with you and it made it here and travelled in our luggage. In all seriousness, that's very interesting about the scorpions at Casa Del Mar. Especially when our good friend who owns on Bon, and has a pest control business back home, said he's never once seen a scorpion on Bonaire. And they spend 3 months at a clip there. We typically keep our wetsuits in the pump room to the pool at Casa Del Mar. Crazy!

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeto View Post
    We 2nd some of your opinions of Casa Del Mar. We stay there for 2 weeks each July or August. Last year during our first week we dove Something Special and while gearing up my wife felt something in her wet suit leg. She is deathly afraid of all bugs and ripped her wet suit off while screaming bloody murder. Sure enough there was a scorpion. After she calmed down we had a great dive. During the 2nd week we came back after morning dives down south and found one floating in the pool. I scooped him out with the net and set him in the rocks to the left. I went back an hour later and couldn't find him. I assumed that a bird or iguana had eaten him. Maybe he lived, crawled into some hole to dry out, and decided to go on a dive with you this year.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Washington DC
    Posts
    45

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    Cheers to that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob T View Post
    Every time we go to Bonaire it is truly the best experience with meeting new friends, new restaurants,and seeing all of our underwater neighbors again. As far as restaurants we leave only cash that way we know it goes to the pocket of the wait staff. When we dive and the dive masters help us get in and out of the boats the tips are definitely cash too. We stay at the Divi every year since it's our time share. I wanted to share a photo of a trash bin by the walkway near us. I call it "after a hard day of diving" lol. Take care everybody. It's snowing outside again in the Detroit area......DSC00303.jpg

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