Staff, 2022-10-07 17:08:02,
“In Bonaire, you don’t think, you just do.” At least that’s what I repeat to myself standing at the edge of this cliff, eyeing the dirt-covered notch of fossilized coral beneath my feet. About 25 feet below that there’s clear, impossibly turquoise water. Maybe too clear: I think I see shadows of rock-masses right beneath the ripples, but hopefully my eyes are playing tricks on me.
On the southern end of the Caribbean, the Dutch municipality—the “B” between Aruba and Curaçao in the ABC islands—is less about tourist traps and more about outdoor appreciation. Here, 20,000 residents are relegated to two cities—Kralendijk, the capital, and the older Rincon—while about one third of the whole island is covered by Washington-Slagbaai National Park, where I am currently frozen.
To get to this perch above Boka Slagbaai bay—once a setting for goat slaughtering (slagbaai comes from slachtbaai, Dutch for “slaughter bay”)—I trekked in aqua shoes up a lumpy trail lined with spindly candle cacti that sprung from the ground like electrified hairs. Take away the sounds of the ocean, and the landscape could easily double as a Western US desert. But then an iguana crosses my path, moseying along on Caribbean time. Behind me flamingos converge, feasting on a former salt pan. And at the top of the trail, I emerge to see the water—expansive, gorgeous, with coral reef all around, all protected thanks…
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