One of our regular readers (Kevin Caldwell) recently sent an email note wondering if we were OK, since the blog has been so silent lately. Yup, we are fine. Just having such a good time in Bonaire that we have been neglecting our blogging duties. But we have now been energized, and faithful readers can expect a FLOOD of postings to get us all caught up.
High school friend Curtiss arrived in Bonaire on March 7, accompanied by his girlfriend Roseanne. They stayed a few nights in the posh Harbour Village Resort and then when Roseanne had to return to the States, Curtiss moved over to spend the rest of a week aboard Tusen Takk II. As is often the case when guests come, they brought along many packages of STUFF that we had had shipped to them so that they could bring it along with their own luggage, and thereby save us the high costs of shipping to the Caribbean. Just before coming, they asked if there were any treats that we would like to receive. Barb mentioned a package of dark chocolate-covered blueberries. When they arrived, they had MANY packages of chocolate-covered blueberries and chocolate-covered cherries, as well as other treats. Yum!
It was good to have the chance to reminisce with Curtiss about the good old days and to discuss how to solve the world’s problems. For a copy of our solutions, send two new hundred-dollar bills to our mailing address.
Jack and Jo (Bodacious) arrived in Bonaire on March 22 after a multi-day passage from the Virgin Islands. Jack is a diver, and Jo snorkels. On March 31 they hosted a bunch of us on a trip out to Klein Bonaire for a two-tank dive. Mike & Hilda (More Mischief), Mike & Roberta (Celilo), Bill & Colleen (Dolce Vita), Hank & Seale (Flash) and of course the Takks. Bill & Colleen were in charge of assembling the comestibles. (We dive almost every day, getting to the dive moorings by dinghy. It had been blowing stink for a number of days, and Bodacious graciously offered to take us out to Klien for a change of scenery since it had been too choppy to get there by dinghy.)
We socialized frequently with all of the folks mentioned in the previous paragraph during the period covered by this posting, and with Don & Pam (Dorothy Ellen) and with Ron & Nancy (landlubbers) as well. Not always ALL of them at the same time, of course. Wednesday burger nights and Friday arepa nights at the Zazu Bar, and special nights out at many of the restaurants in Kralendijk, including Mona Lisa, Chez Madeleine, Sebastian’s, Ingredients at Buddy Dive, Wanna Dive Hut, At Sea, Bobby Jeans BBQ, Pasa Bon Pizza, and Karels. And afterwards, often a visit to Gio’s Gelateria. Barb & I have had a grand time. And thanks to our mostly-faithful morning visits to the Bonaire Health & Fitness Center, we have mostly-maintained our youthful figures. 🙂
The standard length of stay in Bonaire granted by Immigration is three months. We had heard that it was possible to extend by another three months for a rather large fee, and we decided to apply. In our initial appointment with the Immigration office, we learned that as of the first of the year, the extension fee had been increased from around $300 to $788! Per person! In cash! But, we were REALLY enjoying Bonaire, and so we decided to continue with the plan. The application required submitting proof of financial independence and an official document from “home” from a local police department attesting that we had clean police records. Through our mailing service (St. Brendan’s Isle) in Green Cove Springs, FL, we arranged (for a modest fee) to get the police document, and had it scanned so that we could show a copy to the Bonaire Immigration office. Nope, not official enough. No proper seal. So the mailing service went back and had them put a seal on the document, and we had the document mailed to Curtiss (see above) who brought it (along with the chocolate-covered goodies and other things.) On March 9 we again met with Immigration. Nope, not official enough. Pressing to learn what “official” meant, we for the first time heard the word “apostille”. Back at the boat we learned that an apostille is a certification provided under the Hague Convention of 1961 for authenticating documents for use in foreign countries. As such, it is kind of a super notarization. It is a notarization issued by a government entity attesting to the authenticity of a (conventionally) notarized document. So we had our mailing service yet again visit the police department to get a notarized document, which was then sent to the appropriate Florida Governmental agency to be “apostilled”. That went back to the mailing service to be packaged with some other STUFF, including a replacement (under warranty) underwater flashlight that had flooded on our very first dive with it. And 90 days worth of drugs for my arthritis. Tracking of the package stopped dead in Memphis. No one could find the package. We needed the apostille. I REALLY needed my medicines. (Screw the flashlight.) We had the shipping company in Bonaire looking. The branch in Curacao looking. FedEx in the States looking. After days of fruitless search, someone mentioned that they had seen a note attached to the package saying that there might be a problem with shipping drugs to Bonaire. And then one day Barb is on the web looking at our latest batch of mail waiting for disposition at our mailing service, and discovers a mysterious FedEx package. She had the mailing service open it and discovered our package that had been missing for ten days. Guess they just returned it with a new tracking number and never updated the old one. Fortunately, our $156 International shipping fee was refunded.
We had the package rushed to Barb’s sister Audrey, who was coming to see us in Bonaire on April 11. So we got the apostille, and the medicines, and the flashlight, and a bunch of other STUFF.
But I have gotten ahead of myself.
When we went back to Immigration to tell them that our package containing the apostille had been delayed, we got some remarkable news. On March 1 the Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) was amended to permit citizens of either country to spend UP TO SIX MONTHS (of every year) in the other country. For free! No fee! And since Bonaire is a “special municipality” of The Netherlands, we had just been saved from paying $788 + $788 = $1576 unnecessarily. Had the package containing the apostille not been lost, we would have already paid the fee before the new policy was known in Bonaire. What to do with $1576 in cash? On April 3 we went to one of the better restaurants in town (At Sea) and celebrated with Roberta & Mike, who were also applying for an extension and had also suffered delays in their paperwork and therefore had also been spared the fee.
But the story doesn’t end there. The same paperwork that was formerly required for an extension is also required to apply for residency. To be eligible, one must own or rent property on the island, and actually reside here for most of the year. We rent a mooring buoy, and when doing so, we reside here. Why not apply for residency? We did, and to our amazement, it worked! We now have a special sticker in our passports attesting to our residency in Bonaire, which means that we are not even restricted to six months per year. We can come and go as we please, so long as we do not stay away too long. Pinch me. I am dreaming.
In the photo section, below, I include a few of the underwater pictures taken during this time frame.
As I mentioned earlier, Audrey came to see us, and stayed for two weeks. But to learn about that visit and some interesting tours of Bonaire, dear readers, you must tune in to the next exciting episode of “Chuck & Barb Go Cruising”.