by, Sara Buckley
Here at CIEE Research Station Bonaire, finals are quickly approaching for our students, Physis (our student science publication) is fast approaching, and the Fall 2015 semester is nearly coming to a close. Before all the finals and Physis come into full swing we decided that our dedicated Fall 2015 students deserved some well deserved rest and relaxation, oh and some adventure. Washington Slagbaai National Park was the perfect place for the students to explore, camp, and see the untouched picturesque northern part of Bonaire.
The first stop on our camping excursion was Playa Chikitu (little beach). This isolated and protected sea turtle nesting beach, with large sand dunes and rocky cliffs, was a great place to start everything. We took in the beautiful view of the northeastern coast of Bonaire, depicting an untouched, undeveloped coastline that extends for kilometers. Waves shot up the sides of the naturally eroded shoreline spraying a couple of students in its path.
As the morning progressed we drove north along the coastline to Supladó (blow hole) where we set out to explore the reef terraces. Multiple terraces are layered one on top of each other like a cake and were formed by corals of the past. Low and behold one of our students found a cave underneath the remnants of Supladó’s reef terraces. The students and the interns explored the partially submerged cave, watching as the waves rushed in and out creating a forceful wind tunnel. After the students emerged from the cave they climbed to the highest terrace and took in the breathtaking views.
After our cave adventures, we set out to find a nice spot on the beach to enjoy our lunch. We settled on Boka Kokolishi (lizard bay) where everyone enjoyed the calm shallow water and a few members of our group peacefully napped on the beach. Once our appetites were satisfied and everyone was awoken up from their mid day slumber, we forged onward to beautiful Boka Slagbaai, our final destination for the day. The Boka Slagbaai translates to slaughter bay and was an area where goat and other livestock were butchered and loaded on to ships from the days of old.
We unpacked our camping gear and went for a snorkel. The coral was amazing and our group was lucky enough to spot an array of marine life including spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles, and rainbow parrotfishes. As the sun started to set the interns started up the BBQ as the rest of the group unwound at the campsite. The group enjoyed a variety of BBQ dishes and then settled in for some stargazing. In the morning, the group awoke to the view of a rainbow over Boka Slagbaai and a dozen or so rainbow parrotfish feeding in the shallows, the perfect way to end a camping trip.
The students enjoyed the break from rigorous schoolwork and are well rested for the upcoming exam season. With minds at ease, everyone can now finish the semester on a high note and enjoy the little time left here on Bonaire.