So what is an anole, you might ask? Who knows? At least that is what I said before I moved down island. I know what it is now. Think sleek, fast and sexy. An anole is the Lamborghini of the lizard world. These 3-5 inch reptiles are classier than chameleons—they have no need for ego-affirming coloration tricks although they can change color. They don’t get the fuzzy-friendly press that geckos do, but that doesn’t seem to bother them. And they are more ingenious than iguanas. After all, you never hear of stobi di anole (anole stew), but for the brave or unaware, stobi di yuana (iguana stew) can be found any day for those who seek its crunchy, sinew-packed, greasy taste.
When I see these smart-as-a-whip anoles, they always look me in the eye before disappearing out of sight. That always makes my day. Perhaps it is their ability to be here one moment and then gone the next in a blink of an eye that I admire so much. Clark Kent should be so lucky. But anoles are also symbolic of fleeting events that happen on island—here today, gone tomorrow or even in the next second.
Take, for instance, fishing. I am in an aluminum boat with my sailing buddy, Patrick Hulsker, and his son, Cai, named after a point of land that juts out into our drop-dead gorgeous lagoon to the east. Patrick was one in the famous crew of eight who ventured with me to Venezuela’s Aves Islands last fall (Island Notes-Three Sunsets). Anyway, the three of us are out fishing by Klein Bonaire, Bonaire offshore little sister. Actually, I’m just sitting on the boat enjoying a pleasantly warm January afternoon. Trolling for dinner seems to go on for hours. The constant drone of the Yamaha outboard exaggerates time. I dream about dripping Salvador Dali clocks. Ah, to be back sailing again.
But all of a sudden a line bends. Cai grabs the hand reel and starts to haul in. Patrick takes over and by the time we see the five hook lure, we land four fish in one try. What odds. We just start laughing—3 black fin tuna and 1 boonie (bonito) all in one catch. Moments later we snag a barracuda on a proper fishing rod and bring it in. Ah, sashimi and pan-fried fillet tonight.
And that is island life. What apparently goes so slow and for so long can change in a heartbeat here. There was a very beautiful Antillean home in downtown Kralendijk. Its mustard colored walls and weather beaten shutters spoke of yesteryear Bonaire. It was a visual touchstone for me and many others, a symbol of the island’s tranquil past. Because of its age and rarity, the house was protected by local law similar in spirit to what in the United States is known as the Historical Register. Then one day I drove by only to find the house gone, completely leveled. It had been destroyed by a developer’s bulldozer in the early morning before many people were up and about. Damage done. The site is now a soulless parking lot.
It is the end of another day at Sunset Beach. My k-nine sidekick, Sparky, and I sit side-by-side in the open end of my Subaru station wagon facing the sea. While she stares at the endless waves, I ponder the speed of change. The hound suddenly whips her furry head toward a palm and I spot what the catahoula swamp dog has beamed in on. It is a determined anole precariously clinging to the tree’s trunk. It is quite a sight with the animal dramatically silhouetted against a golden sky. Bon tardi, lagadishi. Good afternoon, lizard. The reptile looks at me and smiles. In the time it takes a green flash to blink, the anole is gone, vanished, finito la música, up the palm tree. And as Cher, that aging goddess of pop, once chanted in diminishing volume, And the beat goes on and on and on.