Random musings and observations from an Island Girl.
July 5, 2020 – 6:30 AM – As I write this, I am sitting by the water watching the sun rise above those rolling, billowing clouds that race across a typical island morning sky on Bonaire. It will be another hour or so before the sky reclaims its radiant, blue brilliance and the heat drives me to a shadier location.
Yesterday was the 4th of July, but gone were the familiar fireworks shows so customary from Captain Don’s Habitat and Buddy Dive. But why would there be fireworks? The American tourists – the lifeblood of this island’s tourism industry – have been kept away (indefinitely) over fears of COVID. Officially the ban expires on August 1st, but that is only the official statement at the moment. The Coconut telegraph (a/k/a the rumor mill) is suggesting this ban will last a lot longer than that – at least if the US doesn’t get a grip on the rising infection numbers.
The island did, however, reopen to tourists from a select few European countries, and the first planes have already deposited unfamiliar faces on the island. While we all know we cannot exist here without a lively – and steady – flow of tourists, every single KLM and TUI plane that touches down at Flamingo Airport threatens to shatter the protective, corona-free bubble island residents enjoyed for the past few months.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings now that the island is – for the moment – re-opened for business. There was a comfort in knowing that in the weeks before the July 1 airport reopening date, we could go about our days like we did in pre-COVID times (greeting our friends with hugs and cheek kisses, enjoying dinner and then dancing at Cuba Company’s famous Latin night, going to Van Den Tweel without worrying who is encroaching on your 1.5 meter space in the produce aisle).
But now that outsiders are here among us – on the beach, in the stores, at the hotels – my friends and I are reverting to a place of conservative wariness. I cringed yesterday at the beach when a nurse friend who I had not seen in ages gave me a hug and cheek kiss – the typical Dutch greeting. I genuinely like her and it was great re-connecting, but as she approached me a little voice in the back of my head kept screaming “don’t do it!” I did it anyway.
This is what it is coming to now. Feeling anguish over the simple act of greeting a friend. The bubble has definitely burst. And it’s only going to get harder. The hotel I work for re-opens to guests in four days.
It is a very strange time to be on Bonaire.
Editor’s note – the author, Liz Wegerer, is an American writer and social media consultant residing on Bonaire. As part of the Bonaire Pros team, she administers and posts on our Facebook page and writes blog articles as well as keeps us up-to-date on all things Bonaire. She’s our resident eyes and ears for everything happening on the island.