Random Happenings

Random notes and pics about events in the life of a not-your-typical Computer Science grad student. (Yes I am a nerd, but I don't live and breathe the SciFi channel, well maybe Stargate SG-1...)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Bonaire Adventure, 2007 - Getting There

by Nathan and Shawna Thomas

Nathan and I just got back from a wonderful vacation to Bonaire for sunbathing and scuba diving. We definitely had a few misadventures along the way. In the next few blog posts, we will describe some of the high (and low) points. Here is the first installment.

For those who haven't heard of Bonaire, it's part of the Netherlands Antilles in the Carribean, along with Aruba and Curacao. It is located right off the northern coast of Venezuela, placing it (lucky for us) far south of typical hurricane activity. It's best known for its diving, with a lively coral reef no more than 50 feet offshore all around the island, making it perfect for shore diving. So tourists typically rent a truck for the week and are on their own to explore the numerous dive sites. Definitely our kind of place.

Traveling to Bonaire

Late Friday evening, the adventure begins. Already lacking rest after a Thursday night spent dealing with shopping, packing, checking, and double checking for a diving trip to a foreign country, we board our plane in Houston at 11:30pm. We nod hello to the neighbor (another diver, just like probably everyone else on the flight to a country whose official motto is "Diver's Paradise") and start to doze off just as...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this plane is broken" (Words you never want to hear. Oh but wait, they're not done yet.) "Also, there's a problem downtown. There's been a terrorist threat, and the building is on fire." (Don't think they were supposed to tell us that. Besides, what building are they talking about?) Not to worry, they've already found another plane for us. All we have to do is move from a gate at Terminal E to another at Terminal C. We all sleepily gather our belongings and march down to Terminal C. At least divers tend to be a pretty easy going bunch. An hour later, we finally depart on a working plane (yea) with a little extra fuel to navigate around the remnants of a hurricane in the Gulf.

The flight was non-eventful, and we arrive in Bonaire at about 7:00am local time and quickly get through customs. We already expected both a taxi driver and a rental car to be waiting due to a mixup with the hotel. However, the third person waiting for us (another rental company) was entirely unexpected and just the icing on the cake :) Our rental for the week was a maroon, 4 door Toyota Hilux mini-truck. Not pretty, but good for diving as well as laughing at Nathan's near inability to handle a manual transmission.

The Bellafonte Chateau de la Mer

Our apartment for the week at the Bellafonte Chateau de la Mer (ooh la la) was only a 5 minute drive from the airport. It is a beautiful place. Absolutely gorgeous! Walking in, we felt like we were in a palatial suite, very refreshing after traveling. The apartment has a full kitchen (although later we found out that what we thought was a microwave was really an oven with instructions only in Dutch --- we never figured that one out), a kitchen table, a spacious living room, and a nice bedroom. Both the living room and the bedroom open out to a lovely balcony overlooking the ocean with palm trees, a light breeze, and the sound of waves hitting the shore --- perfect!

Our apartment on the 2nd floor The living room
The bedroom What a view from the balcony!


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