Karpata is the name of our destination. Centuries ago, it was a thriving plantation that produced goats, charcoal and aloe. The landhuis, the plantation home, still overlooks the sea. Decades ago, it served as an aquatic research center. Evidence of both endeavors can be seen on the grounds. But as friends, Bruce & Marlene, and I arrive at Karpata, our goal is to only use its shore as a starting point for our Friday dive. We step down the steep stairs to the shore and plunge through the incoming waves along a cement slab from a former pier. Then, we reach relief from the sun that heats up our black wet suits. It comes in the form of cool, clear water.
Awaiting us upon entry is a four-foot barracuda lurking silently on the bottom. I stare into its face three yards away and admire the rows of fierce-looking teeth. The fish returns the favor with the steel gaze of an assassin. Unexpectedly, it jerks away with the speed of a fighter jet and is instantly gone.
We drop down to about 50 feet along a wall of magnificent coral. The shapes and colors remind me of a poetic, absurd fairyland. As if some unknown force collectively gathers our individual attentions, we all look out from the wall into the deep blue. It is a blank palette of azure, but not for long.
If Miles Davis were alive and saw this, he would probably be inspired to create a song, Blue on Blue in Blue. As my dive buddy, Marlene, described so eloquently afterwards, “Blue fish swimming at me. Nothing but blue fish do I see.”
Bonaire Blues. They are the colors of a deep, soft dream.