My Tourist Guide – Aug. 13, 2012

Today I had to be out of the door in good time as I had to load all my scuba gear and pick up a tank and still get to work by eight o’clock.  When I went over to Bruce’s dive shop at quarter to eight to grab my tank, I found that they were still closed.  Almost without exception, all dive shops here operate from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  I ended up having to go next door to the Divi Dive Shop tank locker and grab a tank from there, even though it cost $5 more. All you need at the Divi tank locker is the door code, so it is accessible 24/7.

 Photos here

This morning during devotions, almost the entire staff was present.  Dick Veldman, our Dutch engineer, was back from his vacation.  It is good to be able to practice my Dutch with him.

Brad led the devotions, and then we all went around the circle and prayed for the various needs on Bonaire and the other mission fields.

Afterwards I then spoke to Ivan, the very friendly Bonairian staff member whose profile I was going to post on the staff page of our website.  First, we went back to the shop and got some pictures of him in action, pretending to cut a piece of wood on the table saw.  Then we went outside and took some shots in front of the building.  After, we sat down with my iPad in the lobby, and I interviewed him for about 20 minutes.  It was very interesting to hear how he was saved at the age of 13, and then later on came to work for Trans World Radio.  He feels that the Lord led him to this job, when he could have been diverted to a secular career.

Ivan is now the longest serving Bonairian staff member, having started in 1975.  Apparently a friend told him about the job opportunity, so he dropped by the studio, and was interviewed by Tom Lowell.  Apparently it went very well, and he was told to report to work the next day.  I typed up the interview, and sent it on to Brandon to massage a bit further.  I’ll be posting it in the morning.

Next, I sat down with Laura on a Skype call to our IT support guy, Benjamin Tangeman, in the U.S.  We went over the list of “bugs” on the website software, one item at a time.  I felt it was a good discussion overall, and we hope to continue moving forward on these web-related items.

I also kidded Benjamin about his email being “Bonaire MK.”  I told him that I had seniority to that, and we both laughed.

Next I went downstairs to interview Dick Veldman.  It was fun to be able to interview him in the Dutch language.  I find that my Dutch is not as good now as I would like it, and every now and then I stumble on a word that I can no longer remember, and have to revert back to English.

Dick Veldman is the Technical Director and heads up the Maintenance Department.  He also has six children, two of whom are just entering college and university, so this is an intersting time in his life.  He seems like a very passionate man for getting the Word of God through radio to the world.

Berni Lusse also dropped by the studio to say good bye to everyone.  We gave her a little card as a going-away gift.

At five o’clock, I rounded up my scuba gear, and was at Jay’s place shortly after five.  We drove about a block or two to the site of the former Hotel Bonaire.  You could still see piles of rubble where it was demolished years ago.

Front Porch dive (Eden Beach)

Jay told me that there was a sunken tug boat about a hundred feet down, so we decided to check it out.  The bottom time at 110 feet is only 15 minutes.  We didn’t have to go far to find the wreck, which was about 70 feet long.  There were a couple of lion fish hovering in its shadow, as well as some sergeant major fish with egg patches on the hull that they were guarding.  The interesting thing is that they actually change to a darker colour when they are protecting their patch of purple eggs.  They alternately go from rubbing the eggs with the side of their body, to charging any nearby intruders.

We then explored a little further down the slope and went down to about 120 feet.  This is the sand plain where you see the grass eels.  These are the most bizarre creatures which live their entire lives in a vertical shaft about half an inch wide.  As you approach, you can see them gently waving in the current about two feet above their burrows, with their tails still down under the sand.  They apparently are fishing for plankton.  They are no bigger around than your baby finger, but are probably about three feet or more long.  I have actually never seen them all the way out of their hole.  As you approach, they slowly withdraw into their hole, until they disappear altogether when you’re within ten feet.  Twenty feet out, you see them about six inches out of their holes, and thirty feet out, they are a foot out of their holes.  How they all co-ordinate how far to extend out of the hole, according to your proximity, I’ll never know.

We then returned to the wreck, and started along the slope.  At that point, we had hit 14 minutes bottom time, so I motioned to Jay that we needed to start to slowly ascend.  We worked our way slowly up the slope, and ended up spending most of our time around 60 feet deep.

One of the strangest sights I saw was a pale, grey type of worm extending out from under a coral head.  The first one I discovered was sticking out about two feet long, and the next one I saw was close to three feet out from under the coral head.  They are almost as big around as your wrist, and don’t seem to move at all.  I wonder how long they are when they are completely out on the sand?  I also saw a sea cucumber up at the shallower depth.

We saw a large fish that looks a bit like a tuna.  I believe it is called a jack.

I did notice during the dive that I had a bit of a stiff neck, which may be a result of the way I have my weights positioned in my integrated weight belt.  I may look at putting some weight on the back of my tank instead of in my BC to balance out.  At the moment, I seem to be straining my neck upwards all the time, while the BC wants me face-down all the time.

Once we had exited the water and stored our gear in Jay’s truck, he took me next-door to the Wannadive Shop.  The tank locker is at the beginning of the condominium complex, with the actual dive shop back near the water.  Apparently, they only charge $8 for a tank, so I may have to register with them tomorrow.  The only drawback is that it is not 24-hour access like it is at the Divi Dive Shop.

I thought it was wonderful to have my own tourist guide, showing me all the highlights of the facility.  This is exactly the kind of generous spirit that I’ve been looking for in a local contact.  Jay delights in showing me things on the reef and on land, which is a real blessing.

Tonight I’m a little tired, so I didn’t go out for supper, but just ate the sandwich I had brought with me.  I’m now sitting in my comfy living room, with the fan going full blast on me to keep me cool.

Tomorrow I’m helping Dave raise a ham radio antenna.

On Wednesday, I’m meeting with Albert Bianculli from the Sea Monitor Foundation.  Jay introduced me to him, and I was able to finally make contact with him tonight.  It involves divers going out to two different underwater sensors, and attaching a computerized reader to it to extract the readings.  They measure water temperature, pollution levels, algae, and that kind of thing.  The diver also has to clean off the sensors, as they quickly become coated with marine growth.  He also said that if I get my air fills from a certain dive shop, it is free of charge when going out to service the sensors.

On Thursday, I’m doing my final deep-dive test with Ebby.  We will be diving the “Invisible” dive spot that is just past the salt pier. That should allow me to obtain the Deep Dive Specialty Course from SSI (Scuba Schools International).

My ex-wife, Lori, messaged me on Skype today and asked how things were going.  I summed it up by saying it was going better than expected. She wished me well, which was nice. And so ends another stimulating day on Bonaire.

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