Gentle Night

Gentle Night

Island Notes 52

The day wanes with the coming of darkness on the last day of April.  Here on island, it is a double holiday. Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day is celebrated since we are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  My hat is off to Queen Beatrix, an elegant woman who has dedicated herself to making the world a better place her entire life.  And it is Rincon Day, a traditional island celebration of our harvest and all things that are good in the tiny village of Rincon.

Rincon is the cultural heartbeat of Bonaire located in the hills and everyone goes there on April 30th to enjoy the parades, the street music, the dance, the food and the cheap beer. Many people come from the neighboring islands of Aruba and Curacao by boat and plane for this day.  Some are former Bonairians.  Others come because nothing compares to Rincon Day on their islands.  It is a cultural link to their Antillean past, a heritage that is waning on the more developed islands.

And as the last float of blazing musicians rolls by with dance groups pulsating to the beat behind, I look up to a sky streaked with pink and soft blue, the end of another sunset in my life.  While the party revelers line the Rincon streets for more, we make our way to the car, taking back dirt roads since the main thoroughfares are blocked with dance, smiles and merriment.

We know the back way, the dirt track through the tiny hilltop neighborhood of Subi (above) Rincon and then along the high spine of the island. We are southbound.  After a bouncy ride and a lot of dust, we pull into town.

It is eight and late for the black dog that awaits in the shadows of Playa Lechi.  I immediately feed Sparky to stop the “how could you leave me alone again?” look.  She inhales the bowl and all is forgotten.  We hit the seaside street for a walk.  Out to the dock, we sit underneath the stars.  Next to us, visiting boats from Curacao bob up and down —Elizabeth, Mi Dushi (my darling) and El-ton.  All came across the water two days ago for the Rincon Day celebrations and the crews are still there dancing in the streets.  The boats lay quiet.  Sparky smells fish on the sun-bleached boards of the dock, someone’s catch of the day that is probably now in the skillet.

I gaze to the heavens and spot the Southern Cross.  It is directly above Punt Vierkant, a stretch of low land.  The signature constellation dips lazily at a forty-five degree angle in the ink black sky.  Small, white clouds drift through the suspended kite of stars that shows me where south is.  I think of the ancient mariners that followed its guidance.  The air is delicious tonight, smooth like a cool glass of Sangsters Jamaica rum cream.  I close my eyes and listen to waves gently lap the coast.  I feel the used muscles in my shoulders and arms from a hardy morning of sailing alone in 17-knot winds—pulling lines, heeling starboard, smiling under the sun.  It has been another day in paradise.

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