I have just returned home from a wonderful holiday in Bonaire (SW Caribbean) together with Clare (Ellen's middle sister), her husband Mike, and their two little boys Henry(10) and James (7), where we met up with Ellen and Nick.
After a 10 hour flight (I now know the meaning of long haul!) we arrived safely, and on leaving the aeroplane walked into a wall of heat which turned out to be a constant on the island but fortunately was always accompanied by soft breezes and the occasional soft rain shower. We very soon became accustomed to the weather and there was also plenty of shade from towering palm trees. It is important to note that when we left England, it had been snowing and our aeroplane had to be de-iced at Humberside Airport.
Our apartment was ideal,with cool tiled floors, air conditioning, spacious bedrooms and bathrooms. The whole being kept beautifully clean by "Housekeeping" on a daily basis. We also had wonderful sea and sky views. Nearby we had access to two or three pools, all of which sported its own bar and restaurant.
The architecture seemed to me to be a mixture of Dutch colonial with highly coloured gables, and gaily coloured bungalows inevitably surrounded by verandas where one suspects most of family life was conducted. The islanders were unfailingly kind and helpful, waving and calling out cheery greetings as we passed by.
Our days quickly took on a routine, with Ellen meeting us for a swim and lunch whilst Nick carried on with "work in progress" on Kika. He then met us usually arriving by dinghy and ferried us in two trips either to snorkel on the edge of a quiet little beach, or to go to a dive site. Karel's bar was a hot spot on the island and because it was within waving/shouting distance of Kika, Nick was able to watch out for us. Sadly, I never got the hang of clambering out of the dinghy, so I had to be hauled up like a beached whale. Must do better next time! We had two terrific days sailing, on one occasion going out to a really good dive site and the next visiting Klein Bonaire which is a tiny barren island sheltering in the lee of the larger Bonaire. Nick took on the aura of a deity with Henry and James because he really encouraged them to "have a go", steering, navigating, trimming sails and they were in heaven. Ellie provided tasty lunches but made a mental note not to do a hot meal in the middle of the day in temperatures of 100 plus! Sadly I don't swim (that's my next challenge) but the family saw a wonderful assortment of tropical fish including an octopus, and one morning Ellie and Nick went for a quick dive and came across a turtle.
The islanders are very strict about the conservation of their natural resources, namely the coastline, the coral reefs and the turtles to name but a few, and it is paying off because the island is almost totally unspoiled and the fish do not seem to be afraid of divers.
The whole adventure was a huge success, with Ellen and Nick pulling out all the stops as they always do for visitors, making our holiday even more fun. When we left from Flamingo International at 3.30 am leaving Ellie and Nick behind, we came down to earth with a bang but it was well worthwhile.