Archive for November 23rd, 2007

November 23, 2007

Shaken not stirred

Well I have lived to fly another day after taking 3 hours to get from Aruba to Bonaire on something that, at a stretch may be called an aircraft but could do with the airplane equivalent of viagra. There can be no feeling quite as delightful as sitting in 100 degree heat on a tarmac in a sardine can listening to your luggage rattling immediately behind you. Well, maybe the thrill of handing out Garnier towelettes to fellow passengers who were resorting to wiping the sweat off their faces and flicking it on the floor. Did I mention it was raining cats and dogs in Aruba when I left resulting in a rather bumpy flight? Ok..glad  I did.

We had to stop in Curacao and, after much deliberation and a ground attendant coming on board and ripping a page out of my ticket that I am sure is my stub for BON-CUR on my return, we took off again for Bonaire. All the unpleasantness was soon forgotten when the lone immigration officer smiled, welcomed me back to Bonaire and I walked over to my Tourism Bonaire guide who was standing there looking expectant. Robert got me into the waiting minivan and took me to Captain Don’s Habitat where I will be staying. After I gave my particulars to a stout and churlish young man of indeterminate sexuality at the desk I went to my room to drop off my stuff while Robert waited to take me to dinner. I deposited my stuff in my room…gave it a cursory once over…frantically smoked a cigarette and then rejoined  Robert to head off to Warung Louise for some chow.

Robert looks like he enjoys life and not always in moderation so i kind of took to him immediately and when he lit a Marlboro at the outdoor table at the restaurant I knew it was going to be a pleasant few days with no furtive puffing on my part. The Indonesian dinner was quite good and while I had a glass of merlot ( and Robert had 3) I savoured the perfectly cooked wahoo…so much in contrast to the Aqua Grill flakiness of a day ago. These people knew how to keep the integrity of the fish intact and the subtlety of flavours on the plate all worked well together. A little spicy bamboo, a sweet ( perhaps tamarind based) sauce and a cooling coconut and saffron rice to complement it. After 4 merlots, 2 meals. 15 cigarettes and much bonhomie we left Louise’s lovely eatery and I was dropped back at the good Captain’s Habitat.

I have some concerns about the Capt’s idea of a place to live..which I assume is what a habitat is…let me check my Mac dictionary…ok..apparently it is a “natural home and environment”. Look here Captain! I don’t know about your natural home and environment but mine requires a fridge, more than one WiFi bar ( and preferably without having to walk halfway into the pool to get it), an ice bucket, an ice machine ( going to the bar to ask for 2 cups of ice doesn’t cut it) and a door I don’t have to lock manually with a key. Work with me here Captain…the times they are a changin’ and YOU are not. A fridge in the room is useful if a diabetic needs to keep insulin chilled or, in my case, if gin needs to be kept ice cold for the perfect martini. These are not optional things anymore they are expected in any hotel and especially in one that charges well over $200 US for a room in shoulder. And since we are in a chatting mood Captain, laptops …LAHP-TAWPS..have three pronged plugs which is why most hotels since 1989 have such things in their rooms. The only 3-pronged plug I could find in your room is in the bathroom. Now, while I accept there may be times that using my laptop in the bathroom might be a useful convenience I would also like to charge it in the bedroom … BEHD-RUHM…you might want to work on that. I am also a bit concerned Capt. about your bathroom tiles. I am sure once they were a pristine white expanse broken only by subtle grouting but now they look like a heroin junkies arm. You might want to look into that…I don’t think the average guest walks around with nitric acid dripping from them so it may have been caused by your cleaning crew…but honestly. I don’t really know who your average guest is…perhaps they are from some other world that doesn’t need fridges or ice buckets. To be a bit kinder though I must say the rooms are much bigger than the average hotel room and the large and comfy terrace with wicker furniture is a nice touch even with the mosquito infestation.

I just had to walk across the compound to get some ice for my ..umm…Shirley Temple…yeah, that’s it..Shirley Temple…this is a ridiculous scenario. This is primarily a divers hotel so maybe they have fewer expectations from a hotel and the Captain is happy to give them less. I am tempted to think of Bucuti in Aruba..and since this is my blog…I shall…here is a place with near full occupancy all the time and yet they are constantly adding, honing and generally staying ahead of the game so why can’t CDH ( I think that is a convenient abbreviation) do the same? One day it may come back to bite them in the ass.

I am now trying to adjust to Bonaire speed for my short stay on my favourite place on the planet. In my brief drive around I was amazed at the pace of construction by Bonaire standards. Some old faves have disappeared yes some Bistro de Paris remain. I am looking forward to exploring. Note to self I must call my old pal Patrice Rannou at Bistro to see what he has been up to.  TCB has a full itinerary for me ( bless their organized souls…are you listening ATA?) but it is important to make time for the places I have grown to love. Bistro de Paris has a special place in my heart. I gave them a Fodor’s Choice listing after they opened and over the years I have never regretted that decision. When I did the ..shudder…vegetarian thing for a year Patrice accommodated me with aplomb. He even used one of my pictures for his brochure and web site ( I didn’t charge him) so I have a love for B de P. The man can do things with a rack of lamb that totally amazes me and his tartare is a work of art.

I arrived in Bonaire for the first time at night but after 8 years I think I can find my way around blindfolded. I love the fact this is a human scale place. You may know what I mean but in case you don’t…after living in a huge albeit nice metropolis aka Toronto ( or Trona if you prefer) I now realize that smaller is better. I like the human scale where things make sense and I know where to find things. Even in my brief drive around with Robert I was able to say what was coming up next and I was always correct. If my life is good to me I would like to retire or die in Bonaire because it touches something in my soul. It is more than human-sized it is me-sized. Who knew 8 years ( or maybe 7 or maybe 9 ) ago I would find a speck in the ocean I would fall in love with. I love Europe and especially Ireland but despite my life plans Bonaire popped up and I am glad it did. I have only been here for 4 hours this time but I can tell you the world needs more Bonaire.

As I head to a Captain’s bed I wish Bruce strength, Urse persistence and Susan a gravol free night.

Bon Nochi.