“For the Love of Donkey’s”
Today I woke with a bad stomach! Not a flu bug or anything, it was my nerves! Last night we had a discussion about our excursion and we were trying to decide if we would cancel it or not because I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I told Kerry I would sleep on it. Well I woke up and thought for a moment that we would cancel. Then I knew I would regret it, so I got everyone up and we were going on an adventure. It was a gorgeous morning sailing in to port. There are so many places to see and explore in this world and adventures with my family is my absolute favorite thing to do.
When I first booked this cruise I was excited to see all the new ports but where in the world was Bonaire? I was so excited to go there but I never heard of it before and I had no idea what we were going to do for an excursion. Maybe we could book something or just stroll around the port area. I started doing my homework on this little piece of Heaven in the Caribbean and we had a very interesting day!
Bonaire is one of the best kept secrets for cruising and if you ever see this on an itinerary, go there! It is located approximately 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela and one of the best ports we have ever been in! Along with it’s neighbours Curacao and Aruba, it forms the “ABC” islands. It is known for one of the best dive sites in the world and if you like to windsurf, this is the port for you! Bonaire is also home to 3 of 7 different species of Sea Turtles.
As I was researching this gorgeous island, I came across this company called Bonaire Cruisers. I read up on it and thought to myself “not happening!” It was a golf cart company and you could rent a 2-seater or 4-seater cart and you tour the island yourself. Then I thought “what the heck”and emailed the company. It was amazing service right from the very first email. I couldn’t get a 4-seater so you know what that means? Miss April had to drive her own cart in the Caribbean on the main roads with real traffic! Now I wasn’t so excited anymore because it wasn’t my first time being in the Caribbean and they drive a little different than we do! But, despite my nervous stomach, we were about to rent some golf carts!
Today was Disney Cruise Lines Inaugural visit to Bonaire, meaning it was their very first visit to this island. This was a special day for the ship but a very special day for the residents. They were so excited to see the “Mickey boat” and a lot of people were wearing Mickey ears. It was very exciting to be a part of this. They had a celebration on the ship with the Officers and people from the island.
We got off the ship around 830am and made our way to the tourist strip where you can take tours or book some last minute excursions. We seen the signs for Bonaire Cruisers and all of a sudden my stomach got worst.
There was a gentleman there waiting for us and he told us how to get there. It was a short walk to the building where we had to rent our carts. I didn’t say much as we were walking over. All I was thinking about was driving in actual traffic and there were a few roundabouts that we had to pass! After an easy check in and an explanation of the route we had to take, we were all set. I have to admit that I’m not that great on direction when someone is explaining it to me on a map. Kerry told me “don’t worry, I got this!”
We were on our way to tour the South part of the Island. There is also a North Side you can do if time allows.
Kerry took the lead because he knew where we were going according to the instructions we were given! We were driving along and I knew we had missed the turn off. Kerry kept going (the wrong way I may add haha) and I had to tell him we missed the turn off. We stopped, Bria and I had to show him on the map where to go. This was hilarious because Kerry told me not to worry and as nervous as I was, I ended up knowing where to go. I been teasing him about this and it made for an amazing memory. Bria thought it was quite funny!
We were driving along and I started to feel a little better about this driving thing. Yes, we were driving amongst trucks, vans and cars but they were all so friendly. Never once did I feel pressured. They would pass when they got a chance but they all waved and smiled.
As we were driving I noticed how pretty the water was. I have never seen anything like it in my life. Of course we had to stop for photo’s!
We kept driving and seen this abandoned building. I think it was an hotel at one point.
Next up were the Salt Pans. This was incredible! Bonaire is home to one of the largest solar salt facilities in the Caribbean. Salt production began in the 1600’s and it’s still running today. When you are driving along, you would think it was mountains of snow but it was mountains of pure salt!
Here are the salt ponds or condensers. The pink color is caused by a microorganism called halophilic bacteria, which thrive in super salty conditions and in reality are not bacteria but single cell life-forms. They have no effect on the quality of salt. The dark color increases the absorption of sun light which then increases the evaporation process of seawater to salt production. From the time seawater enters the salt flats, it only takes two or three months until the salt crystals are ready for harvest.
Mountains of salt and you can see the conveyor belt that they use to transport it to the ships for distribution. They ship salt to customers in the Caribbean, North America, Europe and Africa. It is mainly used for home water softeners, dyes for the textile industry and processing in the petroleum industry.
The Salt crystals are pretty big. Maison was amazed by all of this!
It was pretty close to the road that we were driving on
Back in the day, this was intense work and required the importation of Slaves to the island. This required slave quarters or huts. They still stand along the Salt pans as a reminder of the past. We stopped along the way to check them out.
They were so small! Imagine living in this? The Slaves were used to sleeping on beaches so they were quite fortunate to have them. These were hard times and thousands of slaves worked on the salt plains in such harsh conditions. Every hut housed 4-6 men.
The Slavery was finally abolished in 1862. Back to our carts and off we go to explore some more. This was so much fun and interesting. I am so happy we didn’t cancel last night.
We stopped again just because the water was oh so pretty! No sand on this beach but it was beyond amazing!
We kept on driving and noticed something in the sky. It was windsurfers. Bonaire is also known for amazing windsurfing. We stopped to have a look.
We went a little further and came upon Pink Beach. Now we have been to some pretty amazing beaches and seen some cool sand but this one is at the top of the list for us now. I mean the sand was actually PINK! Pink water, pink sand…love this island so much!
As we were standing on the beach, there was a local trying to catch fish. Again, just look at that water!
The kids loved this beach and Bria was hoping to move here and live on this pink beach!
We drove past more Slave huts
We had noticed these along the way. By 1837, the salt production had grown so big that four of these were placed to guide ships to the correct pan for pick-up. They are called Obelisks and they were painted red, white, blue and orange. This represented the Dutch flag and the Royal House of Orange.
Here is my ride for the day haha!
Next up on our route was the Willemstoren Lighthouse & Ruin
This Lighthouse was built in 1837
We kept driving and noticed some Flamingo’s in the far distance. Bonaire is also home to a Flamingo Sanctuary. The Pekelmeer Sanctuary is one of only four areas in the world where Flamingo’s breed. Pekelmeer means “Salt Lake” in Dutch. This is the home to over ten thousand Flamingo’s. We were not allowed in there but we did see a few from the road. Not the greatest pictures, but you can see them.
We proceeded a little further and we arrived at Jibe City.
This is a windsurf centre where you can rent equipment, get a bite to eat or simply relax and enjoy the view of the surfers. Again, I was amazed by the water!
Off we go to the next stop…the Desert! This place was getting more and more interesting by the minute. This was my first time seeing a cactus!
Remember how I had written “For the Love of Donkey’s” at the beginning of this post? Well this part was quite “fun!” No I wouldn’t use that word, maybe “interesting?”
I had read about a Donkey Sanctuary online and we had planned to stop by for a visit. We were driving along and here it was! Bria was so excited because she is such an animal lover. I was expecting to see a few Donkeys and by a few I didn’t mean hundreds!!
Donkeys have been living on the island of Bonaire for hundreds of years. These animals don’t tend to fare well living on their own and many die from starvation, dehydration, illness or become victim to human abuse. In 1993, this Sanctuary was established to offer a protected life to all the Donkeys on Bonaire. This is a non-profit organization and is dependent on volunteers.
We parked our carts and Kerry went in to pay. It was $7 for Adults and $3.50 for children 12 and under. I wasn’t so sure about this but I thought it couldn’t be too bad, after all we were just looking at Donkey’s in a caged area for visitors. Boy was I wrong on this one! We were driving through the Sanctuary in our golf carts and it was going to take us 15 minutes or so. I thought Kerry was joking until I seen some others go in ahead of us. Again, Life is all about adventure right??? And we were off…
I could not believe how many Donkeys there were and what was I thinking when I agreed to this! They were all poking their heads in our cart and it was freaking me out. Bria was loving it and laughing so hard at me. Kerry and Maison had to stop every 2 feet to touch them and I kept yelling out telling them to keep going. I had 15 minutes of this and I didn’t want to stop along the way. I was using the theory of “I was here, got the picture, now lets go!” There were over 700 Donkeys and I swear Kerry was stopping at each one.
They are cute and all but I felt very overwhelmed by the amount there was. We couldn’t get through at times because the road was blocked. I finally got a place to pass Kerry and I was on a mission to the gate. I have never seen so many Donkeys in my life. I survived but I think I will be seeing Donkeys in my sleep tonight.
Back to the ship! We were all getting tired and it was also really hot. When I said we were driving in real traffic on the roads, I meant it haha!
We returned our carts and again the service was amazing. I would highly recommend this tour company as it was one of the most interesting ones I’ve done. We walked back to the port and checked out the shops. The people were so friendly and not pushy on sales. They were all so excited about having a Disney ship for the first time.
Such a pretty place
It looked like something from a magazine!
We were back on the ship by 2pm and we all went to Deck 9 for a late lunch. We couldn’t believe how much fun we had exploring the island on a golf cart…who would’ve thought??
Relaxed on our verandah for an hour, it was such a gorgeous afternoon
Since this was an Inaugural visit to Bonaire, the people from the island came out to watch us sail away. It was so cool seeing everyone so excited and happy. The decks of the ship were lined with people and Disney characters. Everyone on the island was cheering and clapping. So happy we made a little piece of Disney history.
This is an island that I will visit again someday.
Until next time…
ARRRR MATEY…IT’S PIRATE NIGHT
After our photo’s, we went to a show at the Walt Disney Theatre. Tonight was comedian Marcus Munroe. He needed some help from the audience and Maison got picked to go on stage. This was a big deal for Maison because he loved comedy.
Tonight’s dinner was at Triton’s and here is the Pirate menu
I had the Jerk Chicken and it was really good!
Maison had steak again and of course Bria had Mac & Cheese
Bria and her buddy Ida
I was saving room for the Pirate Party, so I didn’t order anything for dessert. They brought me “Nothing”
After Dinner we headed to Deck 9 for the Pirate Party. They had a stage show and fireworks at sea!
Following the fireworks, there was a pirate feast at Cabana’s. This is why I didn’t order dessert! Here is a few of the food options. Our amazing server Andrew was at the crepe station and he insisted we have one.
Maison had crepes with extra chocolate sauce
I love the watermelon carvings…amazing!
and a flower
Today was another busy but extremely fun day! Bria was really excited about one of her Fish Extender gifts tonight
Time for Bed!
Tomorrow we are off to Aruba!