Elkhorn Appreciation Day

Sorobon. It has the charm of a communist beach resort somehow. Patrice loves it there, but that’s not surprising. He is French.

He took us to Sorobon when we first arrived in Bonaire, last August. It was so hot and sticky then and the water was like a bath. Sorobon is a huge lagoon – and you have to walk in waist deep water for ages and ages to get to the reef. Last time, Delph gave up before we got to the reef. That’s when we walked back and saw the top of a shark hanging around the windsurfing pontoon. We walked faster.

This time, it felt like a long time since we’d last been. Of course, a lot has happened. Number one: we’re on our third lockdown. The beach resort we’d gone to, with sun chairs and a wooden patio for dining, is now closed. We parked our trusty rust bucket anyhow. We’re in the cruiser’s syndicate to rent this pick-up truck every Saturday. Someone had cleaned it during the week, which was frankly a little disappointing. At least the rust is still there.

In the end, we discovered you can enter and exit the water at Sorobon if you go the windsurfing place. Windsurfing is big here, and although this is the second strictest lockdown, Bonaire’s government haven’t yet closed outdoor sports. In fact, the government is actively telling people to stay outside. Outside is like the safe space here. And the water. No one minds if you go in the water.

So that’s what we did. This time, the water was cooler too. We began swimming more quickly to keep ourselves warm – and once again, headed out to the reef.

It was an interesting experience. I mean it was an amazing experience. There was no one around and it was as though this cyan lagoon was our private swimming pool for crazy billionaires who need lagoons for pools. It also felt like a marker.

Bonaire has toughened us up – and opened our eyes wider. I wouldn’t have appreciated all I saw yesterday last August. I wouldn’t have really noticed the black and orange goby for example, sitting on the coral. Last time, it would have been, oh look, tiny little bendy fish. This time it was like, ohhh, beautiful goby. I’m grateful for this.

And the elkhorn corals. Bonnie grows them and we hardly ever see them alive in any great numbers or size around the western side of the island. You find plenty of their skeletons – like dead statues. Here in Sorobon, after wading and swimming through the long lagoon were living examples. Still. Hundreds of years old, these shallow-loving corals still breathe. Sorry, I mean photosynthesise and respire. Same, same.

And just as amazing, as a marker of our own lives, is that Delph made it. And she only started complaining after an hour of floating around and sometimes being buffeted by the wind. Significant. Meanwhile, Jack and Lu fought their way through the reef and came out the other side into the open sea. They came across a brilliant white light, full of tarpon and mature (read enormous) barracuda. This is Bonaire’s Blue Hole.

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