We’re learning a bit more about Bonaire. Partly courtesy of Hans, who works in the local dive store, XProdiver. Hans told us how he moved to the island only in February. Before that, he managed a chemical plant in Holland. Ammonium nitrate included.
I asked Hans what Bonaire was like.
Hans grinned. ‘Well, it’s considered to have the same status as a city in Holland. But if you need to get a replacement driving licence in a city in Holland, you can. In Bonaire you can’t. You have to wait for it to be sent from Holland. So, it’s a city – and it isn’t. It’s strange that way.’
Aha. Bonaire has the same status as a Dutch city. A Dutch city thousands of miles away. You are in Europe but it’s definitely a faraway Europe.
And apparently Bonaire chose it this way. There was a referendum in recent years where the ABC islands chose their allegiance to The Netherlands and decided how they wanted to be administered. Bonaire, of all the ABCs, chose to align themselves most closely with home. This means it is essentially still Dutch.
Does it work? Well, for sure the Dutch are pragmatic. The buildings look solid and the stores are stocked. And the people are really tall. A side note perhaps, but noticeable when shorties like us are walking around. They are supposedly the tallest nation on the globe overall. Why are the Dutch so tall? I just read an article about it. More food quality than genetics apparently. They have a love of dairy food in particular, and introduced the modern world’s most popular breed of cow: the black and white Fresian.
We went to join a cruiser’s dinghy drift with these tall pragmatic people over the weekend. They tie their dinghies together and literally drift out into open water. Some of the cruisers bring ordinary parasols, which they attach to their engine throttles. It makes for good shade. We came in slowly on Edna – as some cruisers were swimming around the drifting dinghies, keeping cool.
We stayed for a little while, making polite conversation before we untied ourselves and went to the beach on Klein Bonaire, a low, scrubby island just a few minutes from the mainland. It is wild and has a long stretch of beach.
Klein Bonaire also has bins, constructed shade and a purpose-built space for barbecues. From our position, we could see the blue KLM aircraft sitting on the airport tarmac on Bonaire. Saturday must be big plane day. It’s tail fin looked as big as a building. And ten minutes later, the rest of the dinghies started turning up. They went straight to the barbecue and started cooking.