I've been meaning to write about my recent trip to Curacao, but I didn't want to do so until I had at least some of the pictures up to view. I've gotten the first batch up, I'm still kind of editing, but if you'd like to see them, they are here. I'll keep working on them for the next couple days.
My long weekend in Curacao was amazing. The island is located roughly 30 miles off the coast of Venezuela about 12 degrees from the equator. It is part of the Netherland Antilles in the Southern Caribbean. The temperature was hot, 90 degrees and sunny every day, but the tradewinds are constantly blowing and this keeps it actually quite comfortable. The island is very dry and a desert with large cacti growing all over the island. (This was very different from my experience in St. Thomas last year, which was quite tropical and lush.) I didn't realize just how much more powerful the sun is there, I got a very bad sunburn our first day down there and I was reapplying SPF 40 every 20-30 minutes.
We spent our first day lying on the beach, having fruity blue curacao drinks and swimming in the blue, blue sea. When we got tired of the ocean, we went swimming in the pool, and then I realized that I was sunburned. The next morning was a little rough, so we decided to stay out of the sun and visit the aquarium next door and then visit Willemsted, the capital.
Willemsted is divided into two cities, Otrabanda and Punda. Both areas are crowded with shops and restuarants, and there is a floating open air market. Remembering that this is a Dutch island, I was quite pleased to find lots and lots of Gouda. Mmmmm, cheese... The city, like the entire island, is strongly influenced by the Dutch, and this is evident everywhere you look. From the architecture, to the food, to even the language. The official language of the island is Dutch, however most of the locals speak a Pidgeon language made up of English, Spanish, Dutch, and Creole, I believe. Language was occasionally a problem, as I know no Dutch, but eventually understanding could be reached. Next time I'll listen to my Dutch language tapes before I go.
For me, the highlight of the trip was a day long snorkeling trip off the side of a huge schooner. The schooner took us to several different coral reefs where I did some of the best snorkeling of my life. I think after this snorkeling trip I've half-decided to sell all my stuff and move to an island in the Caribbean with my dog and teach snorkeling lessons for the rest of my life. There are certainly worse fates, right? At the very least I have decided I am going to learn to dive before my next island adventure, as I'm becoming more dissatisfied with only being able to stay on the surface. I want to see more!!!!
Sunburn aside, it was a crazy adventure. I would recommend the island to anyone who wants to experience a very European flavored Caribbean. It's a very unique place. It's also a good place to go if you want to spend time with very few fellow Americans. We probably saw less than a dozen Americans during our trip. (Snorkeling excursion aside.) The people are wonderful, the food is great, and best of all - you are surrounded by the most beautiful cobalt blue sea.