WASHINGTON SLAGBAAI NATIONAL PARK, Bonaire — It took two hours of driving along the bumpiest road I have ever traveled until they came into view.
The drive through this rugged terrain suddenly became worth it.
A sea of bright pink flamingos appeared before my eyes, in shades of bubble gum and set against a serene backdrop of blue waters and barren mountains. Gorgeous.
Ask most people who visit Bonaire about its huge flamingo population, and they will likely remind you that this tiny Dutch Caribbean island just off the coast of Venezuela is known for its amazing underwater life.
True, Bonaire is a divers' paradise, but it's often overlooked as a popular destination for flamingo watchers, too.
It should be more obvious. Flamingo Airport is the main transportation hub, and T-shirts and trinkets for sale all over the downtown area are clad with flamingo designs.
But it takes some driving around the island for the live flamingos, sometimes huddled in groups of hundreds, to really come into view.
That's what got me hooked. I had been to Bonaire a year ago and noticed the beauty of the flamingos from afar. This trip I yearned to learn more about these birds.
Bonaire is one of a few places in the world where flamingos actually breed. They like the temperate climate and the lack of predators.