Bonacca, “Venice Of The Caribbean”

Bonacca sits a half mile off of the main island of Guanaja. More than 6,000 people live on this tiny cay, which is less than 100 acres. It was originally two islands, connected by a boardwalk, that was gradually (manually) filled in with rocks and sand to expand the town. I copied an aerial photo from the internet, to give you an idea of how populated it is.

The town has many small canals running through it, earning the name “Venice of the Caribbean.”  I mentioned previously that there are no real roads, only narrow, concrete walkways. As a result, there are no cars, scooters or bicycles in the tiny city, just foot traffic. Many of the homes and businesses are on stilts out over the water, some as high as three stories.

It seems like just about anything you might need can be found here, if you are willing to look or ask: hardware, groceries, fruits & vegetables, meats, fresh bread, cell phones, marine parts and clothing. Signage is almost non existent, usually just something small and hand made.

After waiting a day, we came back to town to see the port captain this morning, in hopes that our papers would be ready. Before we got to the office, he passed us on the street and told us to meet him in ten minutes. We visited some of the grocery stores, more about those later, and then went to see him.

We needn’t have rushed. When we arrived, he was working on paperwork for one of the commercial boats. “Copies” are made by using two forms, with a piece of carbon paper sandwiched between (I have no idea where you can even get carbon paper!).

The sandwich is then loaded into…wait for it…a typewriter. I’m not sure why he didn’t enter the information on his computer,which he has, and then print it out.

This typewriter wasn’t a “newfangled” electric one, but the good old fashioned kind. He had to stop at one point, to wind the ribbon, which had loosened. As he typed, he’d say the words out loud to himself in Spanish. I guess it was to keep from making mistakes, which must work, because he never reached for the white out.

I also noticed today that there was (again) an old style phone/fax on his desk. He uses the phone, but I’m guessing that the fax part doesn’t work, which must be why he used up all of the data on his cell phone.

After about thirty minutes, the commercial boat papers were finished, and the man was on his way. I guess commercial boats are exempt from this new faxing-the-mainland policy. It took less than ten minutes for him to communicate to us that our papers were good for all of the bay islands, and that they expire in thirty days. At the end of thirty days, we can get an extension, which we plan to do. Here’s hoping that there are no new policies by then!

The town of Bonacca is so unusual, unlike anything we’ve seen. We’ll visit again later in the week, as fresh produce arrives on Thursday mornings, and look forward to enjoying a beer with the locals. Here are some more photos of our day in town.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

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