4:30am. I’m checking my bags into United Air, and the airline kiosk attendant tells me I can’t get enter Bonaire because I need a visa. Uh, what? No, I explain, I don’t need a visa. They won’t even issue visas to Americans. She doesn’t believe me/doesn’t care/is an idiot because eventually she brings in her boss to ask us for a visa again and I’m just standing there ready to kill both of them while simultaneously afraid that I’m not going to make my flight (which was boarding in less than 20 min.) My dreams of being tanned toned fit and ready on the beaches of Bonaire were close to being squashed.
Luckily for the airline attendants, my mom jumped in between me and the counter and managed to change my flights in a way that they would let me through without requiring a visa. Something about a 90 day limit. I think I was seeing too much red to understand what was going on. Anyway, I MADE MY FLIGHT. And here are my thoughts on international plane travel.
Unlike Kugs, I’m not an international flight virgin. Here are some tips on flying comfortably (even in coach!)
1. Be small. (hah.) It helps when you can stretch out your legs/cross your legs without trespassing the invisible boundaries of your $600+ rectangular prism. I like to pull out the tray in front of me and lay my head on top of my arms, as if I’m falling asleep on a desk in class.
2. Layers. There will always be that one guy who is blowing his tiny air cannon at full blast, and chances are, this air will probably end up on you and make you feel like you’re freezing to death (your destination does not determine how warm/cold your plane will be. Chances are your plane will already be chilly.) Wear a light jacket or sweater.
3. Eye cover. There will also always be that guy who decides to read the news paper or some junk walmart romance even when it’s clearly, OBVIOUSLY, supposed to be lights off (red eye flights/early morning flights.) Bring an eyemask/sunglasses/use your hair to cover your eyes and block out offensive light to catch some ZZ’s. P.S. don’t be that guy.
4. Pillow. You might want to bring a neck pillow, or something you can fold up and lay your head on. Especially on long international flights, the last thing you want is a crick in your neck. It’s not like you can get a massage on the plane.
5. Make friends with your neighbors. I can’t stress this enough. Especially if you’re not in the aisle seat, if you befriend the guy in the aisle seat, chances are he/she will be more willing to get up when you need to pee or take a walk around the plane to stretch your legs. Maybe you’ll really hit it off and he’ll invite you into the airline’s lounge where you can get free drinks and snacks. YA NEVER KNOW WHAT CAN HAPPEN.
Now I can get to the good stuff.
Bonaire is absolutely INCREDIBLE. The weather is high 70’s-low 80’s, breezy and sunny. I live with three other girls, and 16 people in all. We live in a gated house which is a 40 second walk from the beach! I wasn’t able to take pictures today since my camera died while I was snorkeling but I’ll remember to add them in my next post.
Yesterday, we took a tour of the south portion of the island. Amidst the extreme wind (perfect for kite surfing and wind surfing,) we also learned about some of the culture of Bonaire, a lot of which has to do with sustainability and conservation. Bonaire relies heavily on tourism, which means they have to work hard to conserve their unique reef, mangrove, and sea grass habitats (this list is not exhaustive) as well as their endemic species. We also casually met a multi-time champion of windsurfing(Elvis)/visited the place where the Windsurfing World Championships were held at Lac Bay. I think I might take up windsurfing/attempt to take up windsurfing.
Today was a tour of Washington Slagbaii National Park, which I absolutely loved because it was covered in green — cactii, thorny trees, tiny flowering bushes and other flora that hopefully I’ll be able to name by the end of my stay here. My favorite place was this raised platform of coral that jutted out into the sea.
Walking across it, you could see entire coral formations! There’s also places to hike, and a cool cactus distillery that I may have to try out. Definitely somewhere I’ll have to return to before I leave!
Some quick fun facts to end this post!
The word “Sushi” in Papiamentu (local language) means garbage.
All of my pictures on this blog and on my facebook album are unfiltered. This island is beautiful, and these pictures are as authentic as you can get.
People get insulted if you don’t greet them as you’re passing them on the street. The no-eye contact habit that you might practice while walking across the quad wouldn’t help you here — my professor said that she’ll even greet gang members in order not to be rude and piss them off! That being said, bon tarde, everyone. Until next time.