New year, same pandemic. As I write, Bonaire is in the midst of its largest Covid surge (most likely due to all the holiday togetherness) since the beginnings of our worldwide sickness. The good news is that hospitalizations here on island remain quite low. Omicron brings rapid and widespread infection, but mercifully comes with mild symptoms…especially among those who are vaccinated. Most Bonaireans are fully vaccinated and boosted.
The other good news is that we have taken the past year of a quiet island to accomplish some key updates to Villa Salentein.
After more than five years of trying (finding people here to do mid-level renovation projects is like trying to find a frog fish on your maiden open water dive) we finally managed to rustle up the materials and labor for a much-needed kitchen update.
Gone is the wall oven that forced people to climb a stool in order to see the controls. Gone are the disintegrating cabinets from the early aughts. Gone is the center island ceiling exhaust structure upon which guests over 5’3” would be constantly hitting their foreheads. Gone are the dated, scraped and scuffed solid-surface counters.
In place of all this is a fabulous new workspace, new appliances, new concrete countertops, and a graceful new design — allowing for air flow through the kitchen and sweeping views to the Caribbean sea — that more than offsets your kitchen labors.
In addition, the pool was resurfaced and re-tiled, making it more inviting than ever to settle in with a painkiller by the pool and take a dip when the spirit moves you.
Plan your stay here at Bonaire’s recently updated most fabulous home by contacting our island partners at QVillas: email@example.com! We have dates available starting in early March.
When we left at the beginning of March of last year, the house was in tiptop shape following months of work to prepare it for a number of planned rentals in the late winter and early spring.
We all know how that went.
The island government — in an act of brilliant prescience — simply closed Bonaire. In this way, the island and its residents were spared the worst of the Covid epidemic. A slow and smart re-opening happened in summer and fall, mostly for Europeans. As Americans, we were sad to not be able to check in on and visit our island home, but we were also certain we did not want to be the people who brought the ‘Rona with us to Bonaire, so we waited (and waited and waited) patiently for the go ahead to return.
This came in October and involved a circuitous route through Aruba and Curaçao. When we arrived on island in late November, there were only a couple of cases; as I write today, there are close to 70. Island authorities are attributing the spike to holiday gatherings.
As all of this Covid craziness swirls around us — here and in the United States — the nature of Bonaire as it exists right here at Villa Salentein provides a soothing antidote to the turmoil. The beautiful blue Bismarck palm fronds rustle in the breezes that give Bonaire its name. Loras and parakeets visit the yard in the early morning. There are two variegated agave blooming in the front of the house that are drawing in gorgeous troupials for feeding. The common agave that we planted as little tiny pups five years ago all across the oceanfront side of the house are now ginormous and will be blooming soon, drawing in all the birds and reptiles and insects that we love to watch.
In the ocean, the water temperature has finally cooled to a point (81/27) where the corals have started to recover from an unprecedented bleaching event this year. When we swim or dive, we see all our usual friends: the colorful parrotfish, blennies, schools of tang, eels, hogfishes, groupers and the occasional spotted eagle ray in the shallows. Out a little deeper over the edge of the reef is the school of large margates that we make it a point to locate on our very first swim in the ocean after arriving. Just yesterday, on a dive of the house reef, the margates let us approach while a green turtle passed through the school. It was a crowded but beautiful group of creatures (humans included) all sharing a small spot in the ocean…and a testament to Bonaire’s early efforts to protect its coral reefs.
We look forward to sharing all this with family, friends, and visitors again soon enough. For now, here is a video from Elias taken on a dive between Andrea II and home.