By Irving Leemon
(Editor’s Note: This is the final article of a thee-part series. You can read the earlier pieces in our past issue at VanNuysNewsPress. com.)
Our next port was in Bonaire. We were moored to the pier from 11:55 am until 6:45 pm. As of October 10, 2010, Bonaire was one of three islands (Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius) that became a “special municipality” of the Netherlands. At the same time, the islands of Curacao and Saint Martin became independent states within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and they all became an overseas territory of the European Union.
The Spanish discovered Bonaire in 1499. In 1515 the natives were enslaved and deported to the copper mines on the island of Hispaniola; years later they were allowed back on the island. Bonaire has the usual shopping next to the pier as well as shops along the local streets. Snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, kayaking or bicycling, motor scooters, etc. are available. In addition, there is the butterfly farm. For those interested in archeological sights, there are the 500- year-old Caquetá rock inscriptions.
The island has the only barefoot casino, the Divi Flamingo, in the Caribbean. The island is also home to the offshore American Caribbean Medical School, the Xavier University School of Medicine, and the Bonaire and Saint James School of Medicine. We then went to Aruba. As soon as we saw Aruba from our cabin we knew that something was different about this port. It had the cleanest and best-maintained streets and buildings of all of the ports we’ve seen on this trip. In addition, we saw a large sign from our window advertising Louis Vuitton.
We were there from 7:00 am to 4:30 pm. Aruba is also a Dutch port. The earliest traces of human occupancy go back to 1000 AD. Europeans discovered this island in 1499, namely an Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, and a Spaniard, Alonso de Ojeds; they called the island, the “Island of the Giants” because of the stature of the natives. The Spaniards occupied the island until 1636, when the Dutch took over, with the exception of WWII and shortly thereafter.
Due to its oil refineries it was a British protectorate from 1940 to 1942. It then became a U.S. protectorate until 1945. They are very proud of the fact that, during March of 1944, Eleanor Roosevelt visited with the U.S. troops stationed there. Aruba is mostly desert and is known for the aloe that is grown there and an aloe factory. It also has the world’s third largest desalination plant. In addition there is a butterfly farm, and of course, like all of the islands, there are the beaches, and where the mountains are high enough, a rain forest.
We then sailed back to San Juan and disembarked. After spending another day with Jeff and my daughter in law, we flew back to the Los Angeles. All in all, we enjoyed the trip and had a good time. On another trip to the Caribbean we went through the Panama Canal and arrived in San Diego. From there we took the train to the Van Nuys station. This was an excellent and relaxing way to end a vacation.