Bonaire is just a coco palm above 12-degrees latitude in the southern Caribbean. Spin around the globe on that line and you run into Managua, Nicaragua; the Pacific’s Bikini Atoll; Bien Hoa, Vietnam; Dijbouti, the tiny Horn of Africa republic; and Grenada, the island of the spices. But most of what lays under, not south of, that line is ocean blue.
It never freezes at 12-Lat. The lowest temps I felt on Bonaire to date were the low 70s. It hasn’t gone above the middle 90s on the high end. This Fahrenheit groove provides comfortable, warm weather all the time. Clothes are minimal. So are the utility bills. Bitching about the weather is inexcusable.
“Yeah, but you will miss the seasons,” was the refrain from some friends and colleagues as we prepared to depart metro DC three years ago. I was confident that I could make the change. As we sip champagne in celebration to the start of our fourth year on island, I think about that life we left. We spent three cold winters in the nation’s capitol before fleeing. I remember leaving our townhouse along the Potomac at 5:50am to start my commute from Alexandria to work. The wind would whip over the river and make my bones ache. From L’Enfant metro station 35 minutes later, I would walk to my office located on the DC shore of the Potomac. Inextricably, the wind would clock around 180° and hit me face on. Pulling the long, wool overcoat tight, I would trudge on, dreaming about my island home of the future.
Forays into the upper latitudes of cold and ice since then have been severely limited. One December a couple of years back I found myself on the streets of Havana inadequately clothed and shivering in low 60s temps caused by a deep dipping Artic Clipper. This past Christmas, I saw ice on the windshield in southern Florida, bad news for the orange farmers and not very good for me either. But for the rest of the time, I have stayed sensibly south.
I know. You probably think I am a wimp. I am certain that is true for my Canadian friends, Colette and Richard, having braved (is that the correct word?) -40 temps this winter in Fort McMurray, Alberta. I accept my climatic moniker. But before you judge too strongly, I did grow up in Cleveland, Ohio, known for its fierce winds where winters bring on the dreaded ‘lake effect’ of Lake Erie piling up snow along all that is near the shore. This was back in the day of ‘real’ winters when 3-foot high drifts were the norm. No ground was to be seen for months. And that is not even taking into consideration the snow-to-slush-to-snow cycles and the frequent tree-cracking ice storms. Yeah, I am a wimp, but a clever one. I escaped.
The people in DC were wrong. Twelve-Lat does have ‘seasons’. Things change this time of year. The sun bends low in the morning to where my east-facing bamboo shade needs to be dropped for comfortable hammock time. The Southern Cross starts to reappear on the infinite horizon to the south-southwest. Daytime temperatures mostly reach 82° with strong Northeast trade winds. My, my. That is perfect to the skin and the soul. Nighttime dips cooler so that I grab a thin blanket about 3am and half cover the bod. The swim to the boat is brisk this time of year with shoreline water about 80°. A small morning shower brings a brilliant rainbow to start the day. I pass Tamaika, a small local boat complete with a new, oversized pirate flag while I’m out sailing. I wave to the skipper. He waves back. I point to the new Jolly Rogers flapping from the boat’s mast and give the thumbs up. He points to his two kids in the boat as the excuse. I flash the OK sign and sail on. Twelve-Lat winter, my kind of weather.