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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.