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.