Te Aworo, Curacao; Bon Dia, Aruba!

In recognition of the predominant language spoken on all three of the ABC’s, we have a Papamiento post title. Over the last three days, we’ve concluded our time spent in Curacao and begun our time in Aruba. Time and place pass so quickly in this cruising life.

Thursday was our last full day in Curacao. In the morning we headed into Willemstad to visit the Kura Hulanda, an anthropological museum which focuses on the origin of man and the history of slavery. This island became a center of the Atlantic slave trade, a hub to which slaves were brought for sale elsewhere in the Caribbean and the mainland of South America. I was a little disappointed in the museum. Its exhibits were disjointed and lacked any sort of cohesive story. But, the building dedicated to the history of the slave trade was quite moving.

Sculptures at the Kura Hulanda Museum

Sculptures at the Kura Hulanda Museum

"Mama Africa"

“Mama Africa”

From the Slavery Exhibit

From the Slavery Exhibit

A replica of a slave ship hold for slaves.  Oppressive.

A replica of a slave ship hold for slaves. Oppressive.

We spent that afternoon on the beach. This time we tried Cas Abao, a beautiful crescent with swaying palm trees and white sand. It was much larger and had better facilities than Playa Kalki, but there were still quite a few rocks and stones along the beach. The water, however, was equally as clear and refreshing. The piña coladas were amazing. The snorkeling was good, although not quite as good as Playa Kalki. The bottom line, though, is that it was a wonderful afternoon at a gorgeous beach, soaking up sunshine and playing in crystal clear waters. What more could one ask for?

Aaaah!

Aaaah!

Cas Abao

Cas Abao

Beautiful Caribbean Waters

Beautiful Caribbean Waters

A Beautiful Aruban Beach

A Beautiful Aruban Beach

Friday was primarily dedicated to preparations for leaving Curacao in the evening. In the morning, we took the rental car to customs and immigration. Clearing in and out are not the most convenient processes on this island. You can’t dock your boat nearby customs or immigration, which means you need transportation to reach the offices. And the offices are not all that close to each other. Other than the difficulty of reaching the offices, however, the process was painless (and free! None of the ABC’s charge a dime for visiting on your boat!). After we were legally cleared to leave the country, we stopped by a grocery store, returned the rental car, and were transported back to Seru Boca Marina. We then dealt with the formalities of clearing out of the marina and were ready to depart by mid-afternoon.

Cindy is sewing fender covers for Beatitude's fenders

Cindy is sewing fender covers for Beatitude’s fenders

Just before six o’clock, we released the dock lines and wended our way out of the harbor of Spanish Waters and out into the Caribbean Sea. Our journey would cover seventy-nine nautical miles, mostly under cover of darkness. It seemed we had just begun the passage when the sun set and our night watches began. We intentionally kept our speed down so as not to arrive in Aruba until after eight in the morning. We had following waves of 4-5 feet and 15-20 knot winds from astern. After passing as close as fifteen nautical miles off the coast of Venezuela, we neared the Aruban island just as the sun was rising.

Goodbye Seru Boca Marina

Goodbye Seru Boca Marina

Making our way out of Spanish Waters

Making our way out of Spanish Waters

Sunset on the Caribbean

Sunset on the Caribbean

By 8:45 a.m., we had hailed Aruba Port Control on the radio to obtain permission to enter the port and had tied Beatitude alongside the designated quay awaiting the arrival of the customs and immigration agents. We hadn’t had a clearance procedure like this before. We had to tie alongside this very rough wall, against which the waves and winds were bouncing Beatitude the entire time. We were there for close to two hours by the time the officials had come and gone. This was also the first time the customs officers had actually come on board and searched our vessel. He had quite a surprise when he opened one of our galley cabinets and a glass fell out and shattered all over (things tend to shift during passages). But, all went smoothly and soon we had pulled away from the wall and were headed toward the Renaissance Marina, right in the heart of Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba.

Early morning sight of the refineries of Aruba

Early morning sight of the refineries of Aruba

In Oranjestad Harbor, passing the marina en route to the customs dock

In Oranjestad Harbor, passing the marina en route to the customs dock

Tied to the Customs and Immigration Quay in Aruba

Tied to the Customs and Immigration Quay in Aruba

The marina staff was extremely nice and helpful. They even hailed us on the radio after we had called customs and immigration to see if we’d like them to dinghy over to the dock to assist us with our lines. We, of course, took them up on this offer. Upon approaching the marina, we were directed into a slip adjacent to the fuel dock which allowed us to top off our tanks for future passages. After checking in with the marina, we collapsed in bed for a two-hour nap, after which we felt refreshed and fit for public interaction. So, we showered and dressed, and walked around Oranjestad to scout out churches for Sunday morning. On the way back to the waterfront, we stopped at the Renaissance Hotel (associated with the marina) to get our cards allowing us access to all the hotel’s facilities. While there we were drawn into the Crystal Casino because Cindy enjoys playing the slot machines. It’s definitely all for fun. With our $20.00 self-imposed limit, it provides for a few minutes of fun and excitement as we try to leave with what we came with. This time we left with $31.05, so we consider that a great and successful evening. After collecting our massive winnings, we ate at a lovely Cuban restaurant, complete with a live band playing Cuban music. It was a delightful conclusion to our first day in Aruba.

Beatitude at her slip in Aruba

Beatitude at her slip in Aruba

Sunset in Oranjestad Harbor

Sunset in Oranjestad Harbor

Sitting in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel

Sitting in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel

Wandering around Oranjestad after dark

Wandering around Oranjestad after dark

Dinner at Cuba's Cookin!

Dinner at Cuba’s Cookin!

Dushi Curacao

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Dushi is a Papamiento word meaning “sweet.” It is often used to describe the island (as in “Dushi Curacao”) We thought we’d check out more of what makes Curacao “sweet” on Wednesday. First, we hopped in our rental car and drove to the north side of the island near the airport to visit the Hato Caves, formed below sea level millions of years ago. The first inhabitants were the Arawak Indians, 1500 years ago. During Curacao’s slave days, escaped slaves would hide in the caves. Portions of the ceilings are still black from the smoke from their torches. The limestone caves have numerous stalactites and stalagmites, and also house a colony of over 300 long-nose fruit bats. Pictures were not allowed in most of the cavern (including where the bats hung over our heads), but we were allowed to take a few photos.

Cindy in the Hato Caves

Cindy in the Hato Caves

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Rock Flow in the caves

Rock Flow in the caves

The Madonna, the most cherished stalagmite formation in the caves

The Madonna, the most cherished stalagmite formation in the caves

Walking to see the cave carvings

Walking to see the cave carvings

A Petroglyph (cave carving) from the Arawak Indians a millennium and a half ago.

A Petroglyph (cave carving) from the Arawak Indians a millennium and a half ago.

Another carving.  I couldn't make out anything substantial in the carvings.  If it weren't for the "arrow signs" I might have missed the carvings. :)

Another carving. I couldn’t make out anything substantial in the carvings. If it weren’t for the “arrow signs” I might have missed the carvings. 🙂

From there we drove another 30 kilometers along the northeast coast of Curacao to the Shete Boka National Park. Shete Boka means “seven inlets.” There are hiking trails to four of the inlets which we visited. Boka Tabla is the first. Here, large waves crash into an underground cavern which is easily accessed. Unfortunately, the waves were not all that impressive on this day, but it was still a cool cavern. We then hiked a small trail to Boka Kalki before hiking another to Boka Pistol. The incoming waves at Boca Pistol were fun to watch as they rush into the small inlet which has a circular cut in the rocks at its head. When a large wave comes into this round cut, it is shot up into the air as if it comes from a pistol. Lastly, we hiked over to Boka Wandomi to see the natural bridge. The park was a very beautiful place to spend an hour or two.

Cindy on a Giant Iguana at Shete Boka

Cindy on a Giant Iguana at Shete Boka

Boka Tabla

Boka Tabla

A rocky projection near Boka Tabla

A rocky projection near Boka Tabla

On the Trail to Boka Kalki

On the Trail to Boka Kalki

Boka Kalki

Boka Kalki

On the trail back from Boka Kalki.  Mt. Christoffel (named after St. Christopher), the highest point on the island (1200 ft.) in the background.

On the trail back from Boka Kalki. Mt. Christoffel (named after St. Christopher), the highest point on the island (1200 ft.) in the background.

Boka Pistol

Boka Pistol

Boka Pistol

Boka Pistol

Cindy being creative with the rocks at Boka Pistol

Cindy being creative with the rocks at Boka Pistol

In the 1970's, in Bible College in St. Paul, Minnesota, I wrote Cindy's name in the snow on the hillside for all to see.  I can't take credit for this one.  It was already spelled out at Boka Wandomi.

In the 1970’s, in Bible College in St. Paul, Minnesota, I wrote Cindy’s name in the snow on the hillside for all to see. I can’t take credit for this one. It was already spelled out at Boka Wandomi.

The natural bridge at Boka Wandomi.

The natural bridge at Boka Wandomi.

Cindy atop the Natural Bridge

Cindy atop the Natural Bridge

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock.

Lastly, we drove the short distance to the lee side of the island for a visit to Playa Kalki, a beach on the western tip of Curaco. We were at first unimpressed and a little disappointed. I had read it was a really nice beach, but the narrow strip of sand was quite rocky and our entrance into the waters was difficult due to the rocks. However, when Cindy decided to head back in for a little work on her tan while lounging on a beach chair, I donned my mask and snorkel and enjoyed a surprisingly nice thirty to forty-five minutes of communing with the fishes. In about eight to ten feet of water, I found an abundance of various fish species in beautiful clear water. There were numerous parrotfish, angelfish, snapper, tangs, and damselfish. We ended up having a great time, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend this beach as a swimming beach.

Sunbathing on Playa Kalki

Sunbathing on Playa Kalki

Playa Kalki, a great snorkeling beach.

Playa Kalki, a great snorkeling beach.

Since the afternoon was passing quickly, we decided to head back down the island to our marina. It took well over an hour to travel the twenty-five to thirty miles. The traffic is pretty horrible on Curacao. I think there are more cars than were intended when they designed the roads. But, our day was rewarding. We have one more day to play before preparing to leave for our next island adventure.

Sunset at Seru Boca

Sunset at Seru Boca

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Our First Days in Curacao

We arrived in Curacao on Saturday afternoon and unexpectedly ended up in a marina rather than anchoring due to a malfunctioning windlass. We are at the Seru Boca Marina, which is far removed from most of the cruiser activity, but it has been a nice change of pace. It is a very nice facility and is very, very quiet. We’ve enjoyed evenings sitting on the bow, staring at the hillsides and surround scenery. Although, one evening as we were preparing for bed, our serenity was interrupted by loud explosions which turned out to be a fireworks display over the water. Why? Good question. But, we enjoyed them nonetheless.

Our view from the salon looking out through the cockpit.

Our view from the salon looking out through the cockpit.

Fireworks!

Fireworks!

Why?  We don't know.

Why? We don’t know.

We’ve repaired our windlass. After getting a little help in troubleshooting, we discovered that our handheld remote control wire was broken. Unfortunately, this could not be repaired; but, fortunately the local Island Water World (marine supply) had one in stock! So, now our windlass is operational once again. We also replaced our grill. When I started to grill our sailfish, it was non-operational. It had seen its better days, so we replaced it and purchased a dedicated propane tank instead of using the small green throwaway cylinders. We replaced both the wireless remote for the windlass and the grill, just before starting cruising, so it looks like both had a two year life-span.

Head wound sustained while troubleshooting the windlass.  That's what happens when a hatch falls on your head.

Head wound sustained while troubleshooting the windlass. That’s what happens when a hatch falls on your head.

Our new grill with its new dedicated tank.

Our new grill with its new dedicated tank.

Curacao, like Bonaire, is part of the Netherland Antilles. It’s landscape is filled with cacti and is reminiscent of the American west. It’s quite dry. Beatitude is already covered with a layer of dust. The people have been very friendly. It is an island of polyglots. Most speak at least some Papamiento, Dutch, English, and Spanish. All are taught in school. This island is much larger than Bonaire. There is a lot more traffic and many more stores, restaurants, etc. We’ve enjoyed the little time we’ve explored the island thus far.

Sunset at Seru Boca Marina

Sunset at Seru Boca Marina

On Monday afternoon, we rented a car for a few days. Our afternoon was filled with mainly running errands. We visited the two chandleries on the island, Budget Marine and Island Water World, where we purchased the parts necessary for the above repairs. We stopped by one of the many (yes, I said many!) McDonalds on the island for a meal. And, we did some grocery shopping at a large, well-stocked grocery store.

Tuesday was mostly a fun day of exploration. We started out with a visit to the Curacao Ostrich Farm, a little bit of Africa in the Caribbean. It was quite interesting and educational. We got up close and personal with these odd birds. Two themes were constantly repeated by our guide: Ostriches are extremely stupid and unable to be taught anything… and they are very dangerous. One kick and you may be dead. Who knew?

The emu -- Although he can't fly, we learned he's a pretty good swimmer.

The emu — Although he can’t fly, we learned he’s a pretty good swimmer.

A male ostrich at the farm (The males are black, while the females are brown in color).

A male ostrich at the farm (The males are black, while the females are brown in color).

Female Ostrich

Female Ostrich

A cute little ostrich on the farm

A cute little ostrich on the farm

Macaw at the Ostrich Farm

Macaw at the Ostrich Farm

Macaw Two

Macaw Two

Hello!

Hello!

Cindy feeding a young ostrich.  Ostriches have no teeth which is why they eat and carry over two pounds of stones in their gizzard to help digest food.  Very sloppy eaters.  The farm bought pigs to roam the grounds to clean up after them.

Cindy feeding a young ostrich. Ostriches have no teeth which is why they eat and carry over two pounds of stones in their gizzard to help digest food. Very sloppy eaters. The farm bought pigs to roam the grounds to clean up after them.

This ostrich is doing his defense dance.  He bends low, spreads his wings and does this funky side-to-side sway that means, "You are about to be kicked!"  An ostrich defends itself with a forward kick which is strong enough to kill you.

This ostrich is doing his defense dance. He bends low, spreads his wings and does this funky side-to-side sway that means, “You are about to be kicked!” An ostrich defends itself with a forward kick which is strong enough to kill you.

Cindy and an Ostrich Egg.  These are so strong, you can stand on it without it breaking.

Cindy and an Ostrich Egg. These are so strong, you can stand on it without it breaking.

From the Ostrich Farm we stopped by Serena’s Art Factory, home of the “Chichi” doll, a rather well endowed piece of folk art unique to Curacao. Since Cindy would not be here for the next workshop, we were hoping to buy an unpainted doll for Cindy to paint on her own, but they would not sell unpainted dolls to us. So, we moved on down the road to stop at the Curacao Aloe Vera Plantation. There wasn’t much to see there other than aloe vera plants growing in the fields and a few informational boards telling us about Aloe Vera and its “miraculous” properties.

Me and a very large "Chichi."

Me and a very large “Chichi.”

Aloe Vera at the Plantation

Aloe Vera at the Plantation

After our morning fun, we next went out on a wild goose chase trying to fill our new propane cylinder. Eventually, we found the only place on the island (apparently) that can fill a new cylinder, Curgas. After a quick trip back to Beatitude and a change of clothes, we were off again. This time, our destination was downtown Willemstad, the capital of Curacao. In order to park, we had to obtain some Netherland Antilles Guilders (the local currency which has an exchange rate of about $1.78 for $1.00 US currency). This wasn’t easy, but eventually a bank exchanged five bucks for us. Willemstad is actually a pair of twin cities, Punda to the east and Otrabanda to the west. We parked and walked through Punda enjoying our stroll. We stumbled upon the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in Americas. We walked across the Queen Emma pontoon bridge which connects the two halves of the city. This entire bridge rests on pontoons and completely swings over to the Otrabanda side for passing marine traffic. We walked across and enjoyed magnificent views of the colorful buildings lining the Punda waterfront.

About to go to Willemstad

About to go to Willemstad

At the entrance to Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel

At the entrance to Synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel

The oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Americas.  The congregation dates to 1651 when many fled the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal.

The oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Americas. The congregation dates to 1651 when many fled the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal.

The Synagogue's Floor is Sand.   Why? Three reasons: 1. Modeled after the Hebrew encampment in the Sinai desert, 2. In Spain and Portugal, the Jews had to put sand on the floor of the secret rooms in which they worshipped to muffle the sounds, 3. God's promise to Abraham that he would "multiply your seed as the sands of the seashore."

The Synagogue’s Floor is Sand. Why? Three reasons: 1. Modeled after the Hebrew encampment in the Sinai desert, 2. In Spain and Portugal, the Jews had to put sand on the floor of the secret rooms in which they worshipped to muffle the sounds, 3. God’s promise to Abraham that he would “multiply your seed as the sands of the seashore.”

Cindy in the "C" of Curacao.

Cindy in the “C” of Curacao.

Walking across the pontoon bridge from Punda to Otrabanda (the twin cities of Willemstad).

Walking across the pontoon bridge from Punda to Otrabanda (the twin cities of Willemstad).

Waterfront buildings of Punda (reminds us of Copenhagen a little bit)

Waterfront buildings of Punda (reminds us of Copenhagen a little bit)

While walking in Otrabanda, we passed beneath these two involved in some sort of mating ritual (I think)

While walking in Otrabanda, we passed beneath these two involved in some sort of mating ritual (I think)

The Venezuelan Market on the waterfront in Punda.  I believe all fresh vegetables on Bonaire and Curacao come from Venezuela.  The desert-like, dry conditions is not conducive to vegetable growing.

The Venezuelan Market on the waterfront in Punda. I believe all fresh vegetables on Bonaire and Curacao come from Venezuela. The desert-like, dry conditions is not conducive to vegetable growing.

To finish our day, we planned a splurge dinner at the Fort Nassau Restaurant which is, as the name implies, housed in an old fort dating to 1797. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch built a number of Fort Nassaus around the globe, of which this is one. It was briefly taken over by the British and actually, the last military forces housed in the fort were American. It is now a very nice restaurant with magnificent 360° views of the surrounding area. It was a very romantic conclusion to a hectic day.

Just outside of Fort Nassau, overlooking the harbor.

Just outside of Fort Nassau, overlooking the harbor.

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View from Cindy's seat at our table at the Fort Nassau Restaurant.  Willemstad is in the background.

View from Cindy’s seat at our table at the Fort Nassau Restaurant. Willemstad is in the background.

Sunset from Fort Nassau

Sunset from Fort Nassau

Fort Nassau

Fort Nassau