Rincon (Rincón) (12˚15 'north latitude and 68˚19' west longitude) is the oldest village of Bonaire and is located in the north-west of the island in a kind of valley. Rincon is also the oldest village of the former Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The first Spaniards built this settlement at the beginning of the 16th century to stay out of sight of pirates. The Spanish colonists had the administrative management of the coral island in Rincon. The Spanish settlers discovered Bonaire in 1499. Rincon was founded by them in 1527.
From the hills of Rincon you have both a view on the eastern side and the western side of the Caribbean Sea. In this way, a surprise attack by Dutch, French and English naval forces on Rincon was impossible. The name Rincon means 'corner' in Spanish. The village is located in the corner of the rolling valley and has more than 1,800 inhabitants.
The village has a real center. This is unique in the region. Most (early) settlements on the islands of the Caribbean archipelago do not really have a center. Rincon is the only village on Bonaire that has not grown against Kralendijk and so the Caribbean island actually has only two residential areas: Kralendijk with its suburbs and Rincon.
Because Rincon has such a long and eventful history and the village has a lot of old traditions, festivities and customs, it is called the cultural center of the island. Rincon has its own flag and national anthem.
Rincon lies in a valley and is embedded in beautiful hills. This makes it possible to have breathtaking views of the village from certain places in the hills. For example, if you drive via the Kaya Para Mira - this is the road from the Gotomeer - to Rincon, it is best to park your car along the side of the road to enjoy the unbelievably beautiful view you have on Rincon. 'Para Mira' is Papiamento and means 'stop and watch'.
If you drive from the northern tourist route (the beautiful one-way road along the west coast) to Rincon, you pass at a certain point with the sign 'Altamira Unjo'. It is very worthwhile to turn right here and get via the sandy path to a great vantage point within ten minutes. At the viewpoint there are several stone benches where you can sit and enjoy Rincon and its beautiful surroundings for a long time. Especially in clear weather the view here is fantastic.
In Rincon there are two churches: the Roman Catholic St. Ludovicus Bertrandus church from 1907 and the Protestant church dating back to 1934.
Next to the St. Ludovicus Bertrandus Church is the so-called Cocari complex. The Cocari complex consists of three historic school buildings and a former convent (monastery). Since 2012 they have started restoring this beautiful complex. Eventually a multifunctional Care and Service Center will be housed in the Cacari complex.
Furthermore, the village has a real pilgrimage place in the form of a small cave with a statue of Mary: the Gruta di Lourdes. A beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary is placed in the half overhanging cave. This sacred place underlines once again that religion on Bonaire plays a prominent role in society.
The serene village contains a number of historic buildings that are worth a visit, such as the Kas Krioyo Rincon (an authentic Bonairian house and also the oldest house of Rincon) and the Magasina di Rei (the second oldest building in Bonaire) dating back to 1824 that served as a storage place). The Kas Krioyo Rincon can also be viewed from inside. In addition, there is a monument in the center of Rincon in the form of a statue of the statesman Julio Antonio Abraham.
The Dutch also brought slaves during the West India Company's time. The men worked in the salt pans during the week and the women and children had to work on the plantations. This makes Rincon the oldest slave village in the former Netherlands Antilles. The current inhabitants of Rincon are still directly from the former slave community and are called Rinconeans or Rinconero's.
There is an important date to put in the agenda regarding Rincon. Every year on Bonaire, the Rincon Day (Dia di Rincon) is celebrated on April 30th. Rincon Day is a very impressive party. Two weeks before Rincon Day, the 'Festival Criolla' is organized. During this festival is the election of the special festival song of the Rincon Day.
On Rincon Day itself, the streets are filled with musicians dressed in cheerful costumes and dancers who play traditional and modern music. There are numerous food stalls where you can buy delicious snacks. Rincon Day is the perfect opportunity to taste the atmosphere of the typical kunuku (country) lifestyle of Rincon.
Anyone who wants to visit the Washington Slagbaai National Park will also have to drive through Rincon. From the small village starts the four kilometer long road to the beautiful nature park. The route from Rincon to the park is indicated in a specific way. On all lampposts along the route to the park are images of green lizards.
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