The ABC’s (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) were all once part of the Dutch kingdom, or Netherlands Antilles, but after some confusing legal terms, paperwork and meetings, Bonaire is the only ABC that’s still part of the Netherlands (a “municipality”), along with Saba and Sint Eustatius which are over 800km away. But Bonaire still shares its unofficial “official” language of Papiementu with nearby Aruba and Curcao, which is a confusing mix of Dutch, Spanish, English and Portugese. Native American words from the Arawak Indians and some words from African languages are also mixed in there, but somehow It still sounds like a dialect whose vocabulary is based on a lot of borrowing. The governments and schools of the ABC’s still function predominantly in Dutch, since many of the words and spelling aren’t confirmed in Papiemento – the spelling is largely phonetic and makes it very easy to read but then changes from person to person. Thank God everyone speaks English, and while the locals are hard to pinpoint (where they’re from or what to speak), the tall, white, sometimes sunburned Dutch people are real easy to spot.
Bonaire is similar in size to Aruba and Curacao, but only 17,000 people live on this little countryside island. It’s flat and dry, with flamingos, stray donkeys and salt fields spotting the interior. The coast is lined with coral reefs and baby blue seas, but not so many sandy beaches. One of the main public beaches had all its sand blown away in a hurricane, and now they’re left with alot of rocky shores. Its a windy island, making it a kite surfers paradise, and tourists come from all over the world to windsurf and scuba dive. I get claustrophobic under water and prefer to fly kites from land, so I went for free-diving off Kleine Bonaire and windsurfing in Lac Bay… and loved both.
I couchsurfed with a tall white dutch guy, who was a breath of fresh air on the little island. He;s lived there for a year and half but seemed to already knew everything and everyone on the island. He took me to soccer practice and kick-boxing lessons, two more firsts after windsurfing. We partied and danced every night, even though there were only 2 places to do so, but they were really nice, waterfront places. We had a sunset beach barbeque on my last night, with all the new friends I had made, and even I started to feel like I had a lot of friends on the island. After seeing some flamingos, I got on a plane to Curacao hoping to do the same things on another island.