Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Last Adventure in the Caribbean

Well... hopefully not the last adventure, but the last adventure for a while...

I left Statia a week and a half ago with many well wishes. It was sad to leave Statia which has been my home for the past six months. The people are so friendly, the sun is warm, and the beach might be small, but it's still there! The pace was picking up in the Children's garden, the grass was growing that we had planted, playground equipment being put together, the plants were sprouting roots. All in all, the garden was taking off, and I knew that I was about to leave. So I asked Carlton to plant the mahogany trees where we talked about after I left because they didn't have enough roots to plant at the time. The new garden intern arrived two days before I left, ready to take my place. I only felt bad because I didn't have very much time to show her the tricks in the plumbing system. I actually enjoyed learning a bit about plumbing....

Anyway, when I left Statia, I went to St. Maarten for a pretty long layover on my way to Bonaire. Thankfully, I met up with some friends of mine and we went out to lunch in St. Maarten. It was wonderful to see them, and a nice way to ease my way out of Statia. Unfortunately, I couldn't check in my luggage yet, so I ended up towing this great big suitcase behind me on the way to lunch. But, there could be worse things in life. That evening, I headed to Bonaire to visit my friend, a previous intern with Stenapa, Emily. Emily is working for DCNA or Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance in Bonaire. I had a fantastic trip! Bonaire is off the coast of Venezuela and is well known for diving. The diving community makes up most of the tourists, or at least people that want to snorkel on the reef. The island of Bonaire is the result of volcanic activity, but also sits ontop of some coral reefs. That's why so many of the reefs are close to shore. It's one of the best places for shore diving. You can rent some equipment, load it into the back of the car, and go diving. You don't necessarily need to go diving with instructors because all of the sites are well marked. The diving was excellent! I went diving once and snorkeling a few times. It was just phenomenal! The reefs were in excellent shape, and I went to places that people recommended so I got all the really nice reefs. They were healthy and diverse without an inch untouched by coral. There were also schools and schools of fish.

Bonaire is much larger than Statia, but also drier. The vegetation is very dry and there are many cacti, aloe, and agave plants. It didn't rain the whole time that I was there. The sun was extremely hot, and all weekend, the group of us (RJ who previously worked for Stenapa, Ian, Jamie who works with DCNA, and Emily) plastered ourselves with sunscreen. Even then, we all got a lot of sun exposure and tanned despite our best efforts not to. On Saturday morning we rented scooters and toured the island. Then later on, we tried our hand at windsurfing. Ian and Emily decided they would teach me what to do and that I didn't need a lesson. It was a lot of fun, and I was very excited to try it. The experience was priceless. I had no idea how to turn the board, and kept trying to turn it like a snowboard, which landed me time after time in the shallow seagrass beds. Emily finally came over and told me to move the sail back and forth to turn. It helped a little bit...

The rest of the nights and days were filled with eating good food, biking around the island, fixing Emily's flat tires, drinking good beer, and snorkeling. They took me to visit the slave huts and salt flats. The slave huts being extremely tiny dwellings that supposedly housed a number of people at a time, which is impossible to imagine if you saw how small they were. The salt flats are amazing to see- very shallow pools of salt water that evaporate and leave huge piles of salt that they export. Some of the southern salt flats are home to flamingos. I don't think people are allowed to harvest salt in those areas any more.

Back to Buffalo...

I arrived in Buffalo late last Thursday night, and was overwhelmed by driving on the highway and the tons of snow. I don't know what I was thinking, but I was actually surprised that there were no leaves on the trees. I had completely forgotten what it was like to live in Buffalo during the winter-time. Serves me right too, because we were completely socked with snow from Friday till Saturday and received the largest snowfall all winter: 21 inches. Ugh! But it was beautiful, and very very white and I was glad to at least observe a little bit of snow while being back. I even helped my brother shovel out the driveway.

Currently, I'm consciously trying not to leave the keys in the car, like we did in Statia. Statia is an amazing place, where no one would steal your car because the whole island would know by mid-day...


So, that just about wraps up my adventures in the Caribbean.

Until the next adventure...

2 comments:

Evan said...

Done and done?! Just like that...you make it all seem like a stroll in the park :)

I didn't know or maybe remember you were finishing after 6 months! I loved reading your blog. How's it feel to be back. What are your thoughts now? Send me an update if you can!

Much Love, Evan

Justin O'Hagan said...

Hey Danielle,

I loved your stories and the happy ending :) It seems like it was a great experience. I wish I could have seen it too. All that diving and snorkelling, I'm jealous!

I'm also glad that you decided to come back to the US! I can see now how much you like adventures. I hope you get to have more soon.

See you in a bit,
Justin