Hi all,

To all prospective students. Here is what life is like on the island. The good with the bad.

What is Bonaire?

Bonaire is a small island with habitation in 2 main areas and isolated houses around the island. The 2 main areas are Kralendijk and Rincon. Rincon is more just local living and Kralendijk is where most of the locals work and people visit. All the main stores hotels and stuff are in this part of the island. The rest of the island is DRY and HOT with an arid environment, like living in southern Arizona. No Joke. There are cactus EVERYWHERE.
Downtown consists of a "T" road system that takes less than 1 minute to go down. It is small. On this "T", is where the main shops, restaraunts, bars and are. There are 2 grocery stores all within walking distance of Xavier and it is less then 200 feet away from the water's edge.

What are the people like?

Generally, island life is slower than what your used to in the States. Be ready for people who walk slower, get things done slower, and generally take a Laissez-faire attitude about most things. Many people get frustrated here with this, I have too a couple of times. But, everyone here is very friendly. You can say hi to everyone or anyone. Many people live poorly or frugally, some live well. Many people know each other and survive by networking with each other when things go wrong. I knw a lot of locals here and it has helped trememndously in getting used to being here. Of course, pick and choose the people you befriend.

Also, everything is closed between 12 and 2 pm for lunch so don't make the mistake of trying to pay bills or go to stores at this time. It will fustrate you.

What is the food like?

Well at the restuarants the food is ok. There is no good Pizza place on the island and we actually make it at the house to a respectable degree. When you do buy it, pizza is expensive. 25 to 30 Naf per pie. Most restuarants are dutch and I don't really think Dutch food is that good. No where near as tasty as U.S. restuarants. Also, getting refills on drinks is quite a trying task unless you are going to a hotel restuarant or one of the more expensive restuarants. Main thing to remember is that its Dutch fare near the downtown area. At the "chinese" places aroun town, the food is cheap, good and different. China Nobo has the best cheap food. La Favorita (spanhoek) is close and cheapest. Both a little run down. Only 2 fast food here. Subway and KFC. Both expensive.

How are the Bars?

There are 2 main ones downtown. City Cafe and Karels. Karels is an outside Bar on the water and is Busier on Saturday and they have weak mixed drinks with the highest prices. No food. So just get the bottled drinks if you go. City Cafe has an outdoor restuarant like atmosphere. Food is ok for Bonaire standards and their live music is a little better than Karels. The Happy hour at City Cafe is mor epopular with 2 for 1 on all their drinks. Plus they have some attractive waitresses.

There is no Budwiser, or anything like that. They just have 3 main beers. And several really strong and good Dutch ones, but they are only at a couple of places and they are expensive. Corona, Amstel Bright, Amstel Regular, Guiness and Polar. These are what everybody drinks. The guiness in the Bottle is stronger than in the US. Amstel Bright is like corona. Polars and Amstel are only like 9oz. so its not a full 12 oz. But all the beer is at least 5%. The Dutch Beer, La trappe, Duvel, are really good and strong. Some at 10%. Worth trying.

What are some activities.

There is a movie theater. With a small arcade inside with fooze ball, air hockey, some video games and 2 pinball machines. Movies are 12.50 Naf. Each and its a one screen theatre with the most uncomfortable seats you ever experienced.. Students get a discount. Other than that there is Scuba Diving, parasailing, windsurfing, and swimming and suntanning. Besides that there is nothing else except the internet. There is Washington Park. But it is 10 dollars a person/ 10 naf. for locals. So, either way, you will have no choice but to study. You can see the whole island in 2 weeks then it is over. This island is not Cancun or Jamaica so please don't come here expecting this. Many people's past time is drinking and going to the Bar. Also there is a bowling alley, at its not bad.

Remember, other bigger island are just a quick hop away. 90 naf. to Curacao. 140 to Aruba. Each way. They have all the fast food chains.

What about transportation?

Most people bum rides if they don't live close to school. Some people buy cars. If you do buy a car, remember, you will need to do some repairs on it. Few people buy Cheap (2000 naf) cars and don't pay for repairs. So unless you are a mechanic, expect to fix your car. I can do many things myself so it is no problem for me. Most people who bring bike don't ride them for long. It is VERY hot, and a pain to bring. They get stolen. I know 4 people who bought or brought bikes and now they are rusting .
Mopeds and Scooters... forget it. Dangerous and they are not that cheap. Same as a cheap car. One girl bought one her and I told her not too. She now just bought a car. Mopeds have minmal use. Plus pats are hard to find on this island. There is a NAPA auto parts on the island near downtown. Gas just went up to 1.89 naf a liter from 1.62 for regular. There is no Bus system. There is a monthly private pay service offered by some locals. its about 75 naf. a month, not always reliable.

How about clothes?

Bring all you need. It is hot here. Unless you are in a fashion show, be smart, bring comfortable clothes. Bring one set of nice clothes. There are no clothing stores worth a dime here. There are no good shoes or sandals here. They suck bad.

Thats it for now. Any other questions, please post.