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Jax
July 17th, 2011, 07:51 PM
So, someone PM’d, “What’s up? You’ll write a book about diving in a river and have nothing to say about Bonaire?”

Okay, she’s right. <sigh> I do owe a Bonaire trip report. I went to Bonaire 25 June – 02 July with the DNY folks – Most amazing trip set up initially by KeithDiver and GypsyJim and brought to conclusion by Jim! What a splendid job!

First of all, for those of you that didn’t see it here / on Facebook: We (our community) had a bit of an adventure (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxN4CZY6f_o) with a wildfire going through our neighborhood the week before Bonaire. We were not even sure we’d be able to get our dive stuff until the last minute. So, that lovely sense of anticipation and excitement of a long-awaited vacation were clouded with dismay and regret for those that lost everything. Therefore, please understand this will not be as exuberant as my normal reports.

We flew Phoenix to Houston on Friday, and caught the near-midnight flight into Bonaire. My husband was fortunately upgraded to first class, thus leaving me with three seats to myself! Shrimp that I am, I slept the entire flight. :D I definitely had it better than he did. Arrival was 5:30 am on Saturday.

There is no jetway in Bonaire, so we walked down the steps, quickly went through the immigration line, and sat (we got lucky) in a covered-but-open room. No AC. I have to admit, that little note bothered me, as I could imagine awaiting the flight home without AC. :shocked2: (Fortunately, that assumption was wrong.) There wasn’t much checking of luggage going through customs, and as soon as we walked through, there was a man advertising the Plaza Resort. We met noreastDIVER84 on the van for the about 3 minute trip to the resort. He’s a fellow sidemounter; because this trip was pure recreational with my husband, I did not pack my sidemount gear, but just my BP/W. The resort has good security, with a manned guardhouse at each gate.

At the resort, as expected, no rooms were ready so – instead of the locked area we thought we’d have, they just set our luggage to the side. :dontknow: No one messed with it, so okay. They noted our arrival, but we had to come back to check in.

By now, it’s around 6:30 / 7 am. We’re starved, so off to the restaurant. The Plaza had two restaurants, both “expensive”, but both perfectly competitive to the rest of the restaurants. They were very, very good. My husband was pretty exhausted – between the stress of work, the fire, and that he can’t really relax while traveling, I was concerned about him. I was not as out-going as normal, and didn’t go meet the fellow travelers – sorry, guys. Y’all are perfectly wonderful! :hugs:

After breakfast, and feeling a bit better, we headed for the STINAPA brief which basically says, don’t touch. Sign a bunch of papers – if you get your papers ahead of time, bring them so you don’t have to do it again. About this time, I hook up my camera with strobe to take pictures . . . and my strobe doesn’t work. Are you kidding me??? No, I had not checked it before I left. I checked safety items, but not the camera. Again, a downer. :(

I was a little confused – they said everyone had to do a check-out dive, and I was all “with whom do we check in” . . . which seemed to confuse George . . . :lol: It seems it is all on the honor system.

George was a hoot, with a heavy Dutch accent that we all struggled to understand. We might have looked a bit like a herd of cats to him . . . he did pretty okay on keeping us under control. :lol: We got our STINAPA tags and locker keys . . .

Locker Keys. I think we left our stuff in it just once. Probably won’t get them again. However, if you can scarf up one of the ‘kiddy wagon’ carts they have running around, you’ll be very happy!

Somehow – it was probably Gypsy Jim with whom we shared a quad! – we had a room, so we got our stuff after the STINAPA briefing and headed to the room. By the way, Jim and his gal are the nicest people; we’d share with them again in a heartbeat! Right about now, I would have blown off diving for the day, because this dive vacation was definitely more attractive as a just-relax vacation. However, my husband was okay with the checkout so off we went.

My drysuit neck seal gave way – electrical tape didn’t hold, and I flooded the bajeezes out of it. You should have seen the shop attendees trying to not laugh outright as I poured a gallon out of each leg. I was heart-broken. . . I could not see diving the week like this. Why dry? I am comfortable in a 7 mil in an 84F pool. I figured that I would be pretty darned chilled after 3-4 dives a day in 82F temps. (I was right.)

We put everything up, I rinsed out my suit, and let it dry outside. I was hating life right about now. My husband fell asleep, so I napped too . . . Let’s see, a three-hour nap and still followed it with a 9-hour night’s sleep? Oh, yeah; we bled off some serious stress. Still, I was stressed because I did not want to be constantly fighting a dry suit.

That afternoon, things got better. I couldn’t find a 5 mil on the island . . . I’m thinking I’m wearing three 3-mil shorties . . . Then PixiePixie offered up her 3-mil full – God Bless her! I swear, she saved my vacation! I put a 3mil shorty over it. Yeah, I was chilled by dive 3, but I toughed it out. If you readers have bioprene, no probs, but I was dyin’.

The diving was everything you would hope it to be. Lots and lots and lots of critters – more varieties of parrotfish than I’ve ever seen! On these oft-dived spots, one rarely saw a lionfish.

We had several tanks off boats as part of the package, and a night dive thrown in. Our 1-tank dive was over to Klein Bonaire – I could have spent all the boat dives there! The largest loggerhead turtle was there, as well as a well-populated reef.

We also took a three-tank boat dive that took us up to the NorthEast coast – sites 1, 2, and “Taylor-made”, a site not on the map. The good news, is these sites were teeming with life. The bad news was that there were an enormous number of invasive lionfish, and grown to a good (10”) size. Between the two guides, they filled a 5-gal bucket.

The shore diving was splendid; one just picks their way across some uneven footing and through mostly gentle waves, then duck under and swim to the wall. Every site had something different and exciting. However, the dangers were driven home by the finding that one of our tripmates had broken her leg due to a misstep in the walk out of the ocean. It was very sobering news for all of us.

We were also fortunate to help another celebrate a birthday at Rum Runners’ at Captain Don’s Habitat Resort. Due to the ever-present breeze, the ‘candles’ were sparklers; I got a lovely picture of the birthday person “blowing them out”. :blinking: I need permission to post, tho. I can post this one, though:


http://www.scubaboard.com/gallery/data/500/Bonaire_20110626_Gordon_Birthday_6a_.JPG

It was such a lovely evening! We enjoyed it thoroughly and hope the others did too.

Gypsy Jim took us on a tour of the island; from the salt drying ponds in the south to a drive through the city. He knows all the best sites and restaurants, so I highly recommend him as a roommate or a dive guide! ;)

Yo, Pilot Fish!!!! Not one problem with theft! Not one, darn it!! I bought one of those little "waterproof" credit card / key / money holders that you can take down with you so you don't leave anything in the truck -- That $#%^&* thing leaked immediately! As Jim put it, it "does a better job keeping water in than keeping it out." So, I left that POS on the seat of the truck, windows open, just hoping it would disappear. Nope. No luck, no theft. :(

Coming home was a breeze! If you haven't done the GOES Global Entry System (https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/), you are doing yourself a disservice! We flew through immigration and customs like they didn't exist! GOES is totally worth the cost and paperwork.

All-in-all, I highly recommend Bonaire if you want to dive your backside off, or if you simply want to relax and shed the cares of the world. The Plaza, while obviously past its hey-day, still rates a solid “C” for facilities and an A+ for the price / package they gave us. The restaurants were very good – we ate at the Tipsy Seagull several times and the food was wonderful! Yes, expensive compared to the States but comparable to the prices on the island. You get up when you want to, you can analyze your tanks and they will be at the shore when you are ready to dive (don’t leave them too long, or someone might pirate your Nitrox ;) ). There are always lots of air tanks – the on-site shop ran out just once, on the first day. I found they worked hard with the group, to insure extra tanks as needed (some made it a habit of jumping off the boat and swimming in. :D ), and were as accommodating as possible in having boats ready to go where we wanted.

Most of all, I have to applaud Gypsy Jim for being the de-facto group leader, as he herded us cats deftly and cheerfully to sign up for all the niceties he’d arranged for us, and for Cardonna travel for schlepping all this for us.

gypsyjim
July 17th, 2011, 09:22 PM
Nice! We had a great time too!

I was absoluty swamped with work when I returned and then both Colleen and I have been down hard with some real nasty bag for days now, so it does not look like I will be putting together a trip report of my own any time soon.

It was fun reading yours, and remembering the fun U/W and topside!

bkyaffe
July 17th, 2011, 09:31 PM
thanks for the update! super excited for my october trip... 4d on Curacao and then 10d @ Bamboo Bali Bonaire and diving with Wannadive.

Jax
July 19th, 2011, 04:45 PM
Oh, yeah, I forgot:

Water surface temp: 84F

Water bottom (90'): 82F

Visability" 100' or better. :D

DiverVince
July 19th, 2011, 05:14 PM
I just LOVE to dive in 100 foot Viz...:D
And whatever happened to PF??? :rofl3:

Mossman
July 20th, 2011, 12:07 AM
J broke her fibula after a misstep hiking back to the truck at Old Blue. That was no fun.

Jax
July 20th, 2011, 09:36 AM
J broke her fibula after a misstep hiking back to the truck at Old Blue. That was no fun.

Isn't that the truth! Poor gal, she kept her spirits up, though.

Mossman
July 20th, 2011, 12:29 PM
Isn't that the truth! Poor gal, she kept her spirits up, though.
Oh, yeah. Considering the unavailability of pain medication on the island, she needed lots of spirits to keep her spirits up.

trident00
July 26th, 2011, 07:45 PM
Some friends and I are headed to bonaire in a week and a half. This will be my first dive trip out of the US and I am very excited. Do you have any tips for packing for the travel? I was planning on taking a BP/wing. Am contemplating taking a canister light for night diving, but worried about its weight and what security will do when they see it on the xray. What is the best plan for finances there? US cash, credit cards, travelers checks?

I really enjoyed your trip report!!

Cheers, Walt

drrich2
July 26th, 2011, 08:36 PM
Considering the unavailability of pain medication on the island, she needed lots of spirits to keep her spirits up.

Please elaborate. I'm not a fan of the overuse of narcotic pain killers, but if I break a fibula, I'm probably going to want one!

Richard.

gypsyjim
July 26th, 2011, 09:48 PM
The hospital treated the broken ankle by applying a caste after determining it was broken, but then released Mary without pain meds, or even a set of crutches, both of which she had to go to a retail operation to acquire the following day. It was not exactly the standard American E room type of service we are used to.

Luckily there were some usable meds available threw her friends ;) , that got her threw the night, and several friends to help her hobble till crutches became available.

DiverVince
July 27th, 2011, 06:26 AM
Some friends and I are headed to bonaire in a week and a half. This will be my first dive trip out of the US and I am very excited. Do you have any tips for packing for the travel? I was planning on taking a BP/wing. Am contemplating taking a canister light for night diving, but worried about its weight and what security will do when they see it on the xray. What is the best plan for finances there? US cash, credit cards, travelers checks?

I really enjoyed your trip report!!

Cheers, Walt

Walt.. There's an old saying.."take half the stuff you think you're going to need & twice the amount of money".
Seriously, it pays to travel light in the clothing & scuba dept. With respect to dive light, I've always found you see much more with smaller lights as oppose to the big light canons some divers use. U/W; smaller is better.
Finances..leave the travelers checks at home. Use cash & credit cards. Most ATMs will offer cash if you need more.
We leave Fri and as usual can't wait to return. :D:D

Mossman
July 27th, 2011, 02:33 PM
The hospital treated the broken ankle by applying a caste after determining it was broken, but then released Mary without pain meds, or even a set of crutches, both of which she had to go to a retail operation to acquire the following day. It was not exactly the standard American E room type of service we are used to.

Luckily there were some usable meds available threw her friends ;) , that got her threw the night, and several friends to help her hobble till crutches became available.
J also got a cast. Unfortunately, by the time we got back home, the fractured bones had separated to the point where she needed ORIF surgery and now has six screws and a strip of metal holding her ankle together (which surprisingly rarely gets picked up by airport metal detectors).

What's with the lack of pain meds on the island? We didn't have any go-to buddies with supplies, so she had to suffer through the rest of the week (and the extra day delay caused by Hurricane Ike) on ibuprofen and rum punch. We went through a lot of rum. Talking to some residents that week, apparently they don't give pain meds for anything - not when a limb is crushed between a boat and a dock, not when someone falls off a mini-cliff and shatters a knee. For an island owned by a country that attracts drug vacationers because of the easy availability, it's astounding that one can't get pain meds for a really legitimate purpose like a spiral ankle fracture. (Got in to see an ortho surgeon the day after we arrived back home and he immediately prescribed a bottle of 100 percocets to keep her happy until and after the surgery.)

Fortunately the doc warned me that the medical supply store was closing and had me run over to get crutches while he was doing the cast. Unfortunately they were the European kind without the underarm support and it took J a while before she could use them without falling and hurting herself more. We were staying on the second floor of Den Laman and getting her up and down the stairs without an elevator wasn't going to happen. Ending up moving into a ground floor room at Capt. Don's for the rest of the week, got her to the room on a utility cart from the restaurant the first night. The next day I went back to Nos Arkon (I can't believe I still remember the name of the medical supply store, but I had a lot of dealings with them that trip) and rented a wheelchair for the rest of the week. Then we had fun finding out how difficult it is to get around on a wheelchair on a island without the ADA. Back in the States, with handicapped parking, ramps galore, automatic doors, etc., what a difference! (The ladies at Nos Arkon were very cool, even let us drop the wheelchair off at the airport instead of the day before we flew out.)

Looking on the bright side, we got to meet a lot of people on the island as her cast was quite the conversation piece. Chatted with Ned DeLoach at Cactus Blue one night, I got to play volleyball with the Capt. Don's staff and Moogie and bought Moogie a drink on his birthday after he gave her and the cast a mention in one of his songs. Best of all, on the way back home (diverted through Newark because of Hurricane Ike), we got bumped to the front of the mile-long security line after emerging from Customs/Immigration. We also found out how they manage to get a disabled passenger up the stairs into the plane at the Bonaire airport (it involves two very large guys and a wheelchair/sled contraption). Not my favorite trip to Bonaire and certainly not hers, but it will be remembered for life.

Wait a sec... Re-reading your post I saw that you did get pain meds the following day? How? We asked the doc and he recommended ibuprofen. Perhaps he was mad that he had to come in on his day off?

gypsyjim
July 28th, 2011, 08:20 AM
J also got a cast. Unfortunately, by the time we got back home, the fractured bones had separated to the point where she needed ORIF surgery and now has six screws and a strip of metal holding her ankle together (which surprisingly rarely gets picked up by airport metal detectors).

What's with the lack of pain meds on the island? We didn't have any go-to buddies with supplies, so she had to suffer through the rest of the week (and the extra day delay caused by Hurricane Ike) on ibuprofen and rum punch. We went through a lot of rum. Talking to some residents that week, apparently they don't give pain meds for anything - not when a limb is crushed between a boat and a dock, not when someone falls off a mini-cliff and shatters a knee. For an island owned by a country that attracts drug vacationers because of the easy availability, it's astounding that one can't get pain meds for a really legitimate purpose like a spiral ankle fracture. (Got in to see an ortho surgeon the day after we arrived back home and he immediately prescribed a bottle of 100 percocets to keep her happy until and after the surgery.)

Fortunately the doc warned me that the medical supply store was closing and had me run over to get crutches while he was doing the cast. Unfortunately they were the European kind without the underarm support and it took J a while before she could use them without falling and hurting herself more. We were staying on the second floor of Den Laman and getting her up and down the stairs without an elevator wasn't going to happen. Ending up moving into a ground floor room at Capt. Don's for the rest of the week, got her to the room on a utility cart from the restaurant the first night. The next day I went back to Nos Arkon (I can't believe I still remember the name of the medical supply store, but I had a lot of dealings with them that trip) and rented a wheelchair for the rest of the week. Then we had fun finding out how difficult it is to get around on a wheelchair on a island without the ADA. Back in the States, with handicapped parking, ramps galore, automatic doors, etc., what a difference! (The ladies at Nos Arkon were very cool, even let us drop the wheelchair off at the airport instead of the day before we flew out.)

Looking on the bright side, we got to meet a lot of people on the island as her cast was quite the conversation piece. Chatted with Ned DeLoach at Cactus Blue one night, I got to play volleyball with the Capt. Don's staff and Moogie and bought Moogie a drink on his birthday after he gave her and the cast a mention in one of his songs. Best of all, on the way back home (diverted through Newark because of Hurricane Ike), we got bumped to the front of the mile-long security line after emerging from Customs/Immigration. We also found out how they manage to get a disabled passenger up the stairs into the plane at the Bonaire airport (it involves two very large guys and a wheelchair/sled contraption). Not my favorite trip to Bonaire and certainly not hers, but it will be remembered for life.

Wait a sec... Re-reading your post I saw that you did get pain meds the following day? How? We asked the doc and he recommended ibuprofen. Perhaps he was mad that he had to come in on his day off?

I could have been mistaken. It is possible that the only pain meds she was able to get came from friends ;). I will have to ask. I thought that she had gotten painkillers from the main pharmacy downtown.

Rhino434
July 29th, 2011, 01:28 PM
Hi all,
My wife and I head off to Bonair on August 26th. We are regular warm water divers, so we don't plan on bringing anything other than a shred shirt and a skin... I assume the water temp will be close to 84? Let me know what you recommend. KEN

drrich2
July 29th, 2011, 11:25 PM
Depends on how cold sensitive you are. I'm chubby & I wear swim trunks & a t-shirt. Only hassle is once in awhile some tiny stinging organism may zap me, somewhat like a bee sting, but not as bad. And not significant on most dives. And of course, on night dives mosquitoes can be rough on shore.

My lean buddy wears a 3 mm skin suit to prevent rashes & such presumably due to some sort of unseen organisms; I don't seem to have that problem so far. Except the time surge washed me into some fire coral on an exit, but I could see that, and pain, not so much rash, was the main issue.

Richard.

akirawut
July 30th, 2011, 01:48 AM
Definitely had the mystery sting in Bonaire before... right in the face.

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