We woke up today to a 43-degree morning here in New England (that's 6.1 degrees celsius to all of you Bonairean friends). It has been a notably gray, cold spring since our arrival back home in March after our first long stay at Villa Salentein. It has been so gray and cold that the little desert rose we planted in a decorative pot (see photo, left) and placed out front of our New Hampshire porch to remind us of Bonaire has sprouted neither one leaf nor one flower in a month. We don't blame it.
Though we New Englanders are a hearty lot who are used to uncooperative and downright heartless weather (and who are not supposed to complain about it), Ben and I are estimating we have seen the sun for all of about seven days since we got home in mid-March. Today I sadly rifled through my pant drawer until I found the leggings with the warm fleece inner liner, jacked the car seat heater up to its highest setting, started a fire in the woodstove, and did a few jumping jacks to get some blood pumping in my otherwise reptilian body. This all naturally leads to wistful thoughts of Bonaire and Villa Salentein: sitting on the open-air patio sipping a sundowner at sunset (and yes, the sundowner sipping comes to mind first); taking a long swim-snorkel south toward Crown Ridge; warm evening walks around the neighborhood; diving (diving!!) whenever the spirit moves us; dinners at Mezze or Rum Runners; snuggling with the cats and dogs at the shelter; yoga on the patio.
Clearly, it is time to discover what Bonaire is like in the summer, since winter is persisting here at the bitter (cold) end of the New England spring.
And now that our long stay of four months is rapidly coming to an end, I would even go so far as to say that the longer you are here, the worse are the symptoms of impending departure. Ben, for example, has been suffering the effects of "impending VS departure" for several weeks. Clinically, it manifests itself in intense irritability; an inability to concentrate or focus on tasks related to packing suitcases bound for home; a dawning terror of pictures of New England's snow-covered roads, landscapes, vehicles, etc.; and what I can only describe as "ocean-deficit-disorder", a desperate and all-encompassing need to be in the warm Caribbean water as much as possible before the scheduled plane flight home.
We feel so lucky to have been able to stay here for four months. We have become intimately familiar with the rhythms of the villa. We have met many wonderful people who work to make Bonaire a better place to live. We have swum every day in the ocean. We have eaten a lot of cheese and drunk many Coronas with lime and -- in Fiona's case -- San Pellegrino limonatas. We have traveled to six countries in South and Central America (no thanks to Insel Air). We have helped out with coral restoration and at the animal shelter, where we adopted our island dog Bowie. We entertained many guests with trips to Lac Bai, the donkey sanctuary, Lake Goto, the national park, the square during cruise ship-prompted markets. Now it is time to go.
Here are some things we have learned:
Tomorrow we finishing packing up to get home to New England and its beautiful spring. But Bonaire beckons and we will return as soon as possible!