Sunday, June 29, 2008

Radical Rainbow

We've had four days of heavy duty rain here on Bonaire. I can't remember when the last rain before that was. It was quite a number of months ago. So the Kibrahacha trees should be bursting into bloom any day now.

The heavy rains also mean that the recently repaired dirt roads in Washington Park are very bumpy and rutted again. This makes for entertaining mountain bike riding, but also creates a killer rough ride in our trusty Suzuki Samurai.

I was treated to a nice bright partial rainbow on Saturday am, as I rode my bike north of Boca Onima. I was also enjoying the fact that it wasn't raining on me as I pedaled along. The sky was black over the south end of the island.

My bike riding sunglasses have polarizing lenses, and I noticed that the rainbow colors looked more intense with the glasses on than without them. I filed that fact away for future picture taking possibilities.

Then I put the glasses back on and tilted my head 90 degrees to the right and THE RAINBOW DISAPPEARED! I bet I looked like a bobbing head doll as I rode along - rainbow... no rainbow... rainbow... no rainbow. It was great. So those clever raindrops must polarize the sunlight in
addition to splitting it into all those nice colors.

Zensens Return to Bonaire

Back in the 70s, I had the pleasure of working the night shift at the Trans World Radio transmitter site with George Zensen. I enjoyed hanging out with their kids too. From Bonaire, the Zensens went to the TWR station on the island of Guam, and eventually to the HCJB engineering center in Indiana. But they recently returned to Bonaire for six weeks or so. Joan lent her piano playing skills to the International Bible Church, and George (on the left below) shared his considerable engineering wisdom with some of us at TWR.
Here we see George, Dave Olson, and Joe Barker discussing the finer points of the control panel wiring of our AM transmitter.
While George and Joan were here, their daughter Marjorie and her family joined them for a couple weeks of fun in the sun. In fact, they had so much fun out and about, I was never able to corral them all for the requisite family photo. Marjorie is also an accomplished pianist and helped out playing at the IBC while Sue Felix was away.

Blast from the Past

Steve Griffin lived here on Bonaire in the '60s, while his parents served with Trans World Radio. He recently returned for a visit, after about 39 years.

That's Steve, on the right, with his wife Glory. Their kids are in the middle, with son in law, Ben, on the left.

They had a great time exploring Steve's old stomping grounds. I'm amazed at how much Steve remembered about the island after all these years.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Special Bike Ride

This is a Google Earth screen shot of my bike ride on Sat. am. You'll need to click on it to see any detail. If you download the kml file, you can view the track in Google Earth for yourself and zoom in to see the details. This chart shows the distance along the bottom, in Kilometers, and the altitude, in meters, along the left side. The entrance to Washington Park is around 19km. I didn't keep track of the distances after that. The last big spike is, no doubt, the top of the hill by Rincon with all the radio towers.

I did a long bike ride this am. It was raining like crazy on the south end of Bonaire, but I went north and only got rained on a little. It was actually great bike riding weather.

I started at the traffic circle and road towards Rincon on the main east road. I turned off the main road at the Boca Onima dirt road and took that almost to the gate of Washington Park. I then went through the park on the short route in (the only one open 'cause of the rain) and the short route out. After exiting the park, I took the cement road to Rincon, went up the cement hill to the radio towers, and continued back to Sabadeco, Hato, and the traffic circle.

Here is a link to a Google Earth kml file that you can hopefully download and open in Google Earth to follow along the ride. The ride begins at the lower right corner of the "track" and goes counter clockwise. The other Washington Park "kml" file I posted recently was of the long route through the park.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tire Beach

Here is a spot on Bonaire that I have never dived or snorkeled for some reason. I call it tire beach, because of the tires that have washed up on the shore.

Riding my bike along the coral was an adventure. I'm not ashamed to say that I kept my feet clipped out of the pedals.

I'm not sure if it is really true, but this section of "beach" reminds me of how many parts of Bonaire's shoreline looked, pre-Lenny.

You can see a somewhat larger version of this photo here.

North West Corner

One of the less visited areas of Bonaire is the coastline between the Bopec oil terminal and the fishing village of Playa Frans. The dirt road the runs along the coast is super scenic, and there are indian inscriptions that can be found, if one knows where to look. Back before the storm surge from Lenny, Nukove used to be one of our favorite snorkeling areas, but the diving is said to be quite good still. The area around Playa Frans looks pretty good too. At the Bopec end of the road, one can access the water from a crushed coral beach of sorts. I call it tire beach because of the many tires that have washed up there. The picture above is from the north end of tire beach looking towards a point where the beach ends and cliffs begin to form the shoreline. You can just see a big boulder sticking up out of the water at the point.
The boulder at the right side of the above picture is the same one seen in the first picture. We are looking back south towards tire beach from the first of the old garbage truck dumping ramps. You can see my trusty bicycle resting at the edge of the cement platform.
In the above picture, we are looking south from the second of the old garbage dumping ramps. The garbage dumping areas are not that far apart, and glass beach was located right between them. A larger version of this picture can be found here.
Some day, when it is calm, I plan to snorkel from tire beach along the shore to this area. It's maybe a half mile to a mile I would guess. I've got GPS readings from all these spots but I haven't checked the distances yet. The water here doesn't look as "user friendly" as most spots.
Here is what glass beach looks like today, looking north towards the second of the garbage dump ramps. The boulders at the water level seem to have moved around some, and the glass and polished stones are completely gone, but the main ledges are more or less in the same configuration as I remember them. A somewhat larger version of this picture can be found here.

Beach Glass

Way back in the dim and distant past, Bonaire's trash was dumped into the sea from two spots a little bit to the north of where Bopec is now. You can still see the cement pads on the shore where the garbage trucks backed up to the edge of the cliff. Located between the two dumping zones was a small beach that was made up of small polished rocks and beach glass. As someone who had walked many a mile along the shores of N. America, searching for a precious piece of beach glass, this spot on Bonaire, known as Glass Beach, was beyond my wildest dreams
Glass Beach is gone now. Storms have changed the shoreline, and the constant supply of glass has dried up, now that Bonaire's trash is deposited in a managed landfill.
Red, blue, and yellow pieces were probably the most difficult to find, but as you can see, there were plenty of them at glass beach.

These are the bottoms of bottles that have been rounded and smoothed by the action of the sea. I guess they were too thick to be broken like the rest of the bottles.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Best Barbeque Buffet

A number of hotels and restaurants offer barbecue buffets here on Bonaire. I wonder if a little research could turn one up for each night of the week. That would be fun. oink oink Our favorite is the beach barbecue at the Plaza Resort on Tuesday evenings. I don't know how they do it for $12.50, especially here on Bonaire. The Silver Bullet steel band is great. We never tire of listening to them.
So were will you be eating Tuesday night? Any time that we can think of an excuse, we head to the sunset beach barbecue with steel drums at the Plaza.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flapping in the Breeze

There are some signs of life across the street from the Trans World Radio offices and studios, where the Hotel Bonaire used to be. I had heard, probably a year ago, that they were going to erect a tent to serve as administrative and sales offices while the all inclusive resort was being built. Well this structure looks big enough to house the Goodyear blimp!
They picked a particularly low wind day the other week to begin to install the covering over the skeleton. It looks like the world's largest sail to me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Plucky Pelicans

We were snorkeling between Trans World Radio and the Salt Pier yesterday afternoon. We saw zillions of schooling bait fish of various sizes.

We also saw a pelican cruising along the shoreline... which reminded me that I had recently ventured out by the salt pier early in the morning to see if I could catch some Pelicans drying themselves off after a cold dark night. Here's one still enjoying the sunshine on the shore.
EEEEEK! Is there no privacy at all around here?
I love watching the pelicans gliding along the shoreline.
They tuck their wings into attack mode as they dive downward. The closer they get to the water, the more compact they seem to get.
I still am waiting for the definitive pelican diving into the water shot. I can pan along with the pelican as it dives, but then when it hits the water, I'm still panning and overshoot. I think I'll have to anticipate the point of impact. Should be fun.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tower Painting Progress

It looks like the crew has past the halfway point in the Tower 3 painting project. Here is how the guys appear to a 50mm lens as seen from the transmitter site parking lot.
The guys are on the right hand tower and near the top right corner of the picture. If you click on the thumbnail, you'll be able to see them a little more easily.

A "Shocking" Development

The rising price of oil continues to affect the cost of electricity here on Bonaire. On our most recent utility bill, we're paying 50 cents U.S. per kilowatt hour.

So we keep lights and fans off unless they are absolutely needed. We also use such curiosities as a stove top popcorn popper and stove top waffle maker instead of the more common electric versions. LPG for our stove has risen in cost too, but I think it is still a relative bargain compared to electricity.

It also looks like our recent decision to replace our old desktop computer that (literally) burned out with a more energy efficient laptop is going to save us plenty.

At Trans World Radio, the cost of electricity to run our big 100kw transmitter is far and away our largest operating expense, so the higher utility costs are really putting the hurt to our budget.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Improved English Papiamentu Dictionary

Betty Ratzlaff is on Bonaire right now for the official launch of the new improved second edition of her English/Papiamentu - Papiamentu/English dictionary. You can read all about the new edition of the dictionary, and even buy it online, at
Appropriately enough, the web site is available in both Papiamentu and English. Trans World Radio helped Betty publish the first edition of the dictionary, with first and second printings in 1992 and 1995. It has been out of print for quite a while now. Alan Gross and Jane Townsend, and Michael Gaynor approached the TWR Dictionary Foundation with a plan (which was accepted) to introduce a revised edition of the dictionary.

The TWR Dictionary foundation licensed Jong Bonaire to revise and reprint the dictionary, and provided seed money to help get the project off the ground. Jong Bonaire secured a bank loan for the remainder of the funds needed for the project. Jong Bonaire is handling the production, administration and accounting, and Michael will take care of the warehousing and distribution.

Profits from the sale of the dictionary will go to help fund the Jong Bonaire youth center. A percentage of the sales will also be set aside for the next printing of the dictionary and for printing inspirational Christian literature in the Papiamentu language.
In the above photo Betty is presenting a copy of the new improved dictionary to Bonaire Governor Herbert Domacasse. Below you can see the stores on the ABC islands that will be selling the dictionaries.
There is an initiative to encourage companies and organizations to purchase dictionaries for the schools on the islands. You can read all about this on the web site too.
Betty is holding a book signing at Addo's book store, here on Bonaire, this afternoon. Some eager beavers couldn't wait 'till today, so Betty held an impromptu signing session after the press conference on last night.

We are quite excited to see the dictionary back in circulation again, and want to express an especially big thank you to Alan and Jane for contributing their enthusiasm, drive, and professional skills to make a dream come true for Betty and the TWR Dictionary Foundation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jonathan Griffiths Wed

Some of you may remember Jonathan Griffiths from the years he spent here on Bonaire with Trans World Radio. You'll be glad to know that he is alive and well and working with TWR in Austria.

You might also be interested to know that Jonathan G. and Bärbel Kirchner were recently joined together in marriage on 17 May, 2008.

Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple, and a big thank you to TWR - Europe for the photo.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bonaire Triathlon 2008

The sixth annual Triathlon to benefit the Jong Bonaire youth center took place early Sunday morning on the beautiful Kralendijk waterfront. I posted a bunch of pictures on Photobucket.

There were classes for teams as well as for individuals. There were two distance categories too. In the Fun Category, the swimming distance was 850 meters, the bike route was 11.6 kilometers, and the running route was 5 kilometers. In the Pro Category, all those distances were doubled.

The swimming leg started at 7 am. I had to leave at 8 to go set up the PA system for our church service at the high school, but I got to see some of the short course competitors begin the run and the long course people head out on the second lap of the bike course. There were a couple scary moments when the Pro class bikers came blazing through the start finish area on their way to the second lap of the bike leg, while fans, and the Fun class and team class people were scattered all over the road transitioning to the run leg.
One Pro class competitor, who shall remain nameless, endured some good natured ribbing, when he hopped off of his bike to begin the run after completing only one of the required two bike laps. Can you say "oxygen debt?" This same competitor had been heard to exclaim, "I almost drowned" as he exited the water after the swim leg. Ain't sports fun!
At the end of the bike leg, one of the kids executed a beautiful Cyclocross style transition from riding to running, except that instead of picking up his bike, he just dropped it in the street. As he went running away, someone yelled to him to take off his helmet, so he popped it off his head and left in in the middle of the road as well. Maybe next year I ought to bring a video camera to catch the action. I think this kid would have been a hit on YouTube.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June Planetary Parade

Mars is "zooming" across the evening sky, on it's way to a meeting with Saturn later in June. Mars and Saturn are bright enough to be seen, even if you live in a region with more ambient light (light pollution), so anyone can enjoy this show.

To make it even easier, the moon will be right by Mars on the evening of June 7 and right by Saturn on the evening of the 8th. So you can use the moon to locate the two planets, and then continue to watch them as they come together over the course of the next couple weeks.

Comet Boattini Again

Its been a while since I've mentioned Comet Boattini. But we've been observing it every evening, clouds permitting.

This picture is from Saturday evening, when the comet was near the bright-ish star Rho Puppis. This is a stack of about 34 thirty second long exposures at F 2.8 and ISO 1600. You can see the comet, even in the thumbnail image, as a fuzz towards the upper left of the picture.

The comet moves quite a bit from night to night. On Monday night, it was just to the left of Xi Puppis and made a nice sight with M93, which is to the right of Xi Pup.

By tonight, (Wednesday) the comet will be closing in on the big triangle that forms the hindquarters of Canus Major. The comet is heading towards the sun, so it is getting lower in the western sky each night. It is still easy to see here in the Tropics, but we do need to have clear skies along the horizon in the evening.

Tower Painting Update

The antenna painting crew is about halfway down the tower. They started at the top and are working their way down. The top of the tower looks great in its new red and white paint. This is the same picture I posted a while ago, but I lightened it after seeing how dark it looked on some of the computer monitors at work.

Bonaire Biking

I recently posted kids pix from the mtn. bike race on Sunday. Here is a shot of the adult group getting ready to go. The five women who participated are pretty much hidden in this shot, but they made their presence known once out on the course. I rode with the group fun ride Tuesday. The kids from the race were there and a whole bunch of adults too. We did a fairly long ride, passing through the hills east of Antriol, some kunuku roads north of Tras di Montana, up over Sero Largu, up to Republik, and back to Eden Beach by way of Hato. I'll have to bring my GPS next time so I can post the route. It was a good ride.

More people are out and about on road bikes this week, because there is a Triathalon this weekend. I think road biking here is making a mini comeback these days, after being pretty invisible for a number of years following the demise of the Bonaire Cycling Club.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bonaire Wellness Month

Bonaire Wellness month started of with a challenging mountain bike race on Sunday afternoon. The course for the fall mountain bike races is pretty user friendly, but this one, used for the spring races is tough tough tough. There were fewer kids racing this year, but more adults.
The kids all had the same expression on their face as they waited for the start of the race. I know the feeling.
The kids did a great job, and I'm sure they'll be encouraging their friends to try the next race this fall.
Above is a post race picture. I love that look of satisfaction and accomplishment.

The adult pack races off to the dangerous downhill section, while the next generation is chomping at the bit.