We were back at GO West by 8am gathering our gear and loading it on the boat. We ended up with DIN tanks which is a set up we don’t dive. I found our divemaster, Miguel, who was much more helpful. He fixed the tanks, though one kept leaking so he had to replace it. I didn’t know there were two types of tanks on board, not counting air and Nitrox. Fortunately, we had the kind we needed yesterday as both of us only checked the tank we were diving first.
This time we had one divemaster and the captain only for eleven divers. The captain actually has to steer the boat in the wind and current, throw it in neutral and then come down from the top deck to help the divers up. It seemed understaffed, especially for the windy day.
Our first dive this morning was about thirty minutes away at Black Sand Wreck. I finally have pictures to show for it, though I ditched my strobe so I had to rely only on the sunlight that came and went. All things considered, I can’t complain about the results. The wreck was uneventful with the exception of the raven fish. On the reef, however, lionfish and eels were a dime a dozen. The eels came in multiple sizes. Trunkfish, filefish, angelfish, and trumpetfish were a few of my favorite that hovered around the corals and sponges. And I’ve never seen so many Christmas tree worms next to each other.
After our hour surface interval, we jumped in at Red Bush City which isn’t an official dive site. Here, we found a camouflaged scorpion fish which is always fun to see. I love the anemones. They were plentiful. Once again, the eels did not disappoint. I felt like there was one at every turn. We laid eyes on the biggest spotted moray we think we have ever seen. The elusive spotted drum was not cooperating and posing for the camera like I wished. Being mesmerized by the small stuff, I loved seeing the coral banded reef shrimp, cleaner shrimp, and gobies. Ruth, on the other hand, liked the barracuda and was happy to spot a second scorpionfish before we made our safety stop and ascent to the boat.
Noordpunt Lighthouse and Watamula
We finished diving around 12:30 and headed back to the house for a quick lunch before we ventured just a few miles north to the Noordpunt Lighthouse and sonar/tracking globes. We never got quite as close to the globes as we wanted as we randomly turned down dirt roads through the brush and cacti. We were, however, able to enjoy a nice view from the lighthouse before we continued on to Watamula. I was originally under the impression Watamula was a small town when I looked at google maps before I left, but it is basically a coastal area with a small parking lot.
Locals fish with a large spool of line for any type of fish while tourists go check out the sink hole where water sprays up onto the lava surface. Continuing to the left from the parking lot took us along a picturesque shoreline with crashing waves until we found a small cove with a hidden away beach, Gibi. After enjoying the scenery, since we had reservations for dinner at Barber we headed that direction for more exploring.
National Park Shete Boka
We stopped at National Park Shete Boka. The park advertises a natural bridge, a cave, a turtle sanctuary and several bokas (basically small inlets/coves), including Boka Pistol where the waves crash and shoot upward like a pistol shot with the corresponding sound. Upon arrival, we found out it is not the season for turtles, the price was about twice as much as written in the information provided to us (though only $5 a person), and it closed in two hours (at 4:30).
We were there, so we raced in to see the sites. We went to the “cave” first as it was located directly in front of the parking lot. It was more like an indention in the rocks where water occasionally passed. Pretty, but not a cave. We took the path from the cave atop the cliff which provided spectacular views of tumultuous waves. Of course, every time we pulled our cameras out, the waves took a break from spraying.
We could walk or drive to the natural bridge. We chose to walk along the shoreline. Despite the wind, it felt quite hot. We drank through our water in no time. I have to hand it to the marketer of the national park. I’d call the natural bridge a piece of lava protruding into the ocean where water flows beneath. And we didn’t walk over it. So far, we had seen all of this in Watamula for free!
At this point, we hurried back to the car, bought another water at the concession stand, and drove to Boka Pistol. I can’t imagine the rental cars last long on this island. They get filled with dive gear. They already face the salty air and they get driven through deserts of cacti! Soon we made it out of the sandy desert and arrived at a magnificent spot. Boka Pistol was lovely. We were the only ones there, and we just sat and watched the waves crash for the last 15 minutes the park was open.
We had some extra time before dinner so we continued on to see the wild flamingos at the Flamingo Sanctuary Sint Willibrordus. This lagoon was lovely. I’m glad we made the extra stop before we turned around and headed toward Die KlosterKüche. We arrived just a few minutes before our reservation. Once again Ushi greeted us with gusto. She escorted us into her gated yard and proceeded to tell us the history of the convent.
It had fallen into ruins and its documents were burned in a fire so the historic building was forgotten by the local government. An illegal German was squatting in the ruins when she heard Ushi and her wife were looking for a house. After a lawyer figured out who ultimately owned the convent, they were able to purchase it.
The yard was shaded by several trees…many bearing fruit like limes and coconut. Its outdoor wooden deck was new as was the shard sidewalk, but many doors remained from 1763. The courtyard in the back by the Jesus and Joseph statue is where we would enjoy our pancake dinner. Ushi suggested two pancakes per person would be plenty.
As such we each settled on a savory and sweet pancake. I ordered the Vatican and Jesus while Ruth ordered Maria and Heaven on Earth. The Vatican was like a crepe with crispy edges topped with olive, garlic, and Parmesan. It was fantastic and definitely the best of the bunch. All the others were tasty though I really think we enjoyed the experience the most. I don’t think many people would randomly drive down a dirt road (thank you Ruth), and end up at a former convent and have dinner there the next day.
While we ate, a full moon rose overhead and song from the church choir next door could be heard from its stained glass windows. We heard stories about the things they have found at the convent as well as the Polish priest at the Catholic Church next door who keys their car due to their lifestyle. But that didn’t stop them, their whole business was set up as a foundation. Ushi said, “No one can take away what is not ours.”
Beyond serving dinner, both Ushi and her wife Maureen have printed books whose proceeds go to the foundation they created. Maureen trains dogs when she isn’t cooking. Ushi, a former marketer in Germany (and it showed), went on to tell us they rent a room and bath out or airbnb! They also offer island tours. These two expats had found a way to make a living. It was crazy to soak it all in.
By putting the restaurant (a patio with two picnic tables) in the foundation, they are limited to operating only three hours a night, must accept a donation for dinner, and can’t serve liquor, but they don’t have to provide separate bathrooms for men and women. They had quite a brilliant set up. After a few hours at dinner, we bid farewell and made our way back to Marazul. ETB