Thank You, Rust Bucket

On another Saturday, we continue our little routine we’ve gotten used to over the last weeks. Rental of rust bucket.

Oh rust bucket. How did we live without you? Firstly, we didn’t really dive anywhere except from Quest or from Edna before we rented the rust bucket from the cruiser’s syndicate every weekend. This seems almost criminal for Bonaire – since most of the dive sites here are shore dives. The island is exactly set up for getting your own way to one of the many dive sites and paddling out from land.

Plus, there’s the fun of a car. Before the rust bucket, we didn’t get out for a weekend drive, off the boat, away from homework and passage planning, commitment and well, small spaces.

We do have a dinghy to get to shore. We have warm water to swim around and under us. Still, there is a palpable and instant feeling of freedom in a car. You can roll down the windows – at least we do in the rust bucket – and feel the hot Bonaire breeze on our faces. We are like a family of dogs: tongues in the wind. We pass the by-now familiar Bonairean landmarks. In fairness, there isn’t many of them. It is a small island.

And mostly for our Saturday dive expeditions, we head south. South, past the salt pans. To the flat edge of the island which tapers into the sea. Only the lighthouse left and the sombre slave huts by the edge of the shore.

It’s a striking place. There’s Caribbean turquoise sea on one side of the road and pink pans of salt water on the other. In between, the ‘mountains’ of sea salt ready to be shipped off by the Salt Pier. And like yesterday, where the trade winds steam over the flat south, the white foam blew off the tops of the pans. Back into the sea.

And the island is still so quiet. It feels the quietest it has been since we first arrived. To the point we can’t even imagine it busy anymore. But the idea of it is quite appealing too. People! Milling around, chattering like lemurs. Entering the water together and swimming past each other at dive sites. Ohhh. That would be something different.

Yesterday, there was a large school of trevally fish, cruising up and across the reef at The Invisibles. At this dive site, you swim over a series of underwater bommies. The dive is quite varied – gullies of sand, then reef down to about 50 metres, which is more knobbly than the usual wall. The trevally came right to us a few times, as if to say hello. Lu even descended down a little and went to swim with them.

It was such a lovely moment. All four of us diving comfortably and easily. I stuck it straight into said memory bank. For when things change. Like lonely Brenda at yesterday’s funeral. I wonder if she has rust bucket memories. Hope so.

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