Another Island Note…
My spouse and I are on a lovely sunset cruise with our stalwart boat, Kontentu. As we glide by Donkey Beach she suddenly yells out while half laughing, “Look! There’s a guy standing in the water, trying to snorkel.” Sure enough. The red-backed tourist who failed to apply SPF 50 sunscreen is bent over, looking downward into the gin clear water while standing up, happy as a clam. He sort of looks like this kid, but without the shirt on.
I appreciate the guy’s novel approach to ‘snorkeling’, but I must take off points for his lack of style. It is so much better just to float your boat and dig the underwater world. We islanders, contrary to some outsider opinions of being just laid backed bozos, do have our standards. Especially when it comes to anything in, above or under the water.
And there are other things happening on the island that are crosswise with our tropical tango. Take for instance the just-opened Jungle Concept Store. They boast having Island Essentials – Tropical Vibes – Affordable & Timeless Products. Huh? How have I survived here for over a decade without these essential things? We live on an arid island. The best it can offer in terms of dense jungle vegetation are the mangroves around Lac Bay or our semi-dry hilly forests. Camo gear for our outback perhaps? You got to be kidding. You will stand out like a proud pink flamingo.
But this rant is not just about some misbranded retailer. How about the island’s new policies regarding cruise ships? None have docked here since March 2020 due to the worldwide pandemic. During the moratorium, the powers that be wisely decided to reconsider cruise ship tourism. When two monster ships arrive here, Bonaire’s population increases by 30% in a Havana heartbeat. The island ceases to function normally. Roads are jammed, half naked passengers invade our streets with little respect for the local culture, and trash and pollution follow these day trippers as they trapes around the island. This may be fine for the 200 or so that profit from the cruise ship trade, but for the rest of us? Not so much.
During this reprieve the government proposed new environmental restrictions for visiting ships. There is also talk of increasing a tourist tax for those arriving by water from a paltry $3 to $10. And no more than one ship can dock per day. So, what am I bitching about? Well, these new policies are not yet cast in stone and it is not clear why. Plus, there are existing contracts with cruise ship corporations that need to be honored, which were signed before Covid appeared. Thus, we will have multi-cruise ships days for the next two years beginning September. Rumor has it that there will even be a couple of days when THREE ships will be docking. You will find me hiding up in the hills overlooking the sea, sequestered like a crab under a rock. Bet your money on it.
Kontentu now cruises toward the marina as the sun dips into the horizon with a sizzle. We pass by Donkey Beach once again. Oh my, he who stands while snorkeling is still there! Unbelievable. His back is now glowing like a Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in the fading light. I pity the poor boy, but hey, on the bright side he can fly home tomorrow and avoid the indignation of both the Jungle Concept Store and upcoming cruise ship invasion. It is not always easy being a worldkid living on the rock.