Is it mud or is it flamingo poop?

Today we explored the North end of the island. 1000 Steps is actually 64 stairs carved out of limestone in the side of a cliff leading down to a wide coral beach with beautiful blue water.

1000 steps

We drove past a large picturesque saltwater lagoon where pink flamingos nest just outside Washington-Slaghaai National Park but we only spotted a few as we drove by.  We continued on to the national park just outside Rincon.

The museum was pretty small but interesting.  A large whale skeleton was on display under a pavilion near the main gate.  The sign explained that the whale had been impaled by a cruise ship in 2000 and assembled by local students and donated to the museum.

Impaled by a cruise ship? That sounds bad all around.

We debated whether to hike one of the trails inside the park and decided on the shorter Lagadishi Walking Trail that leads to a flamingo observation point, an impressive blowhole and ancient artifacts. Chandler and I wore flip flops, not the best footwear for hiking, but since the trail was relatively short we figured it wouldn’t be too difficult.  We filled our water bottles with warm tap water from the bathroom spigots.

The vegetation and surroundings seemed more like Arizona than the Caribbean. The ground is bare, rocky and dry and cacti grow as far as you can see.  The volcanic rocks are sharp, as are the prickly spines of the cacti growing along the path.  We stopped more than once to pull long spines that pierced all the way through the sole out of the bottom of our sandals. Matt and Riley were much more prepared for the hike wearing sturdy shoes and hats (or a t-shirt tied around your head doo rag style in Matt’s case).

We followed the trail to the flamingo observation point and could see 50 or more standing in the shallow water in the distance.  Not satisfied with staying on the trail, we looked for a way to get closer.  Riley scouted out a spot on the cliff that we could climb down.  Matt went first and then guided each of us to sturdy hand and foot holds until we were all down on the almost dry pond bed below. We walked several yards out toward the flamingos in the distance taking care where we stepped to avoid the squishy spots.  The ground became wetter and less stable the farther we went and it wasn’t too long before we turned back. I was able to get a fairly decent shot of the birds.

Flamingo nesting area

Wish I had been able to get closer and had a better camera with me

As we made our way back, Chandler decided to take an alternate route rather than walk along the edge where we had before.  He was disgusted as his brand new sandals sank into the muck and of course being flip flops, flung the black mud/flamingo poop onto his legs, shorts and back.  Yuck!  Not only was it sticky and gross but it was also sandy and abrasive.  Matt and I helped clean his shoes as well as we could with leaves and sticks before he had to climb back up the cliff and hike some distance to the ocean to wash off.

climbing

Teamwork!

Hippie Matt

Hippie Matt

We continued on the blowhole and washed up as well as we could in a small pool of water filled by crashing waves.  The walk back was much more pleasant though we still had to keep an eye out to avoid the ever-present cactus spines.

washing off

Goats are also park residents.  We saw a small herd (is that the right term?) of goats running across the trail and noticed several goat skulls along the edges of the hiking path. Chandler was tempted to bring one home with him though I’m not sure why.

Poor little goat

We made it back to the truck just in time as the park would soon close.  Hungry and thirsty we drove back to Kralendijk to the have dinner at Pasa Bon Pizza, a local pizza restaurant that we’d seen earlier in the week.  The food was good and so were the many glasses of water, Sprite and Polar beer.

me and the boys

After a splash in the pool we played Spades until bedtime.  I wish every day could be as good as this.

 

 

 

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