I was finishing the Curacao chapter for Fodor’s Caribbean 2013 when I came across this. Not brilliant, likely commercial, but it is still one of my favorite islands.
If anyone is remotely interested I have been posting masses of pics of my current trip to Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao over on Flickr.
Still on Curacao. Took a tour of the Kura Hulanda Museum of African History again. Wonderful that gay Dutch billionaire Jacob Gelt Dekker would spend his money on such a worthwhile enterprise. It is a very moving and extremely comprehensive collection. Unlike anything I have ever seen.
I found the KKK display interesting because the guide mentioned those attacked as blacks, Jews and Roman Catholics. When I asked her about LGBT people also being attacked ( to be honest she is elderly so I just said ‘gay people ‘) – she paused and then said – yes gay people too. So interesting that it has to be brought up. I was wearing a rainbow wristband at the time so she should have seen that question coming.
There is no difference. Hatred is hatred whether you are hated for your skin or for your heart.
Interestingly, this evening in Rif Fort in Otrobanda , I saw a lesbian couple walking, hugging and even kissing. Nobody batted an eye. That is when you know you are in a civilized country. Good for Curacao.
I am too tired writing to upload an entry but I have finally uploaded pics of my trip. You can see them at http://flickr.com/photos/globewriter Enjoy!
Well after a delayed ( and a long delay at that) return flight on Surname Airways and a ridiculous immigration line in Trinidad I am back on the ground and dealing with all that means. Peter P met me and he let me use his car to get home from his place and since my car is not fully serviced I am still using it. It was weird driving on the “right side” again but I managed at 1:30am when I was supposed to be back at 8:15pm the previous day. Cascade was normal looking until I rounded the curve and saw that the flood damage had affected my area. The security gates are stuck in the open position, all the vegetation was washed away and there were piles of mud everywhere.
My place is up on a hill so there was no damage in my living space but it was weird having to pass all the damage. I stayed at home on Friday as i had a lot of laundry and cleaning to do and did a quick trip to the grocery but that was the extent of my outings for the day. The mud on the main road has now turned to dust so Cascade feels like the place that the ABCs are normally. The irony is not lost on me.
I produced and anchored news on Saturday and just produced on Sunday so Giselle could do a perfect job of anchoring. Watching her read after 2 weeks was a great experience as I see how far she has come. I pray the Beeb does not snatch her from us as she is close to a perfect news reader now.
I still have to research Tobago and also Trinidad as despite living here much of the time there is a lot I have to get right as Fodor’s does not accept poor information and least of all my editors. This should be fun…I imagine my days will be very long between ieTV and Fodor’s for the next little while. Fun? What is that?
I will say, though, after this many years of doing this I really miss my friends on the ABC islands including Susan at Bucuti, Ricardo and Monique, Rolando, Anabela and Bobby from the wonderful Pinchos in Aruba, Stephen in Curacao ( what a revelation he was) , Delno Tromp from Bonaire and Curacao..so many great people. I am truly a lucky guy to have crossed paths with such wonderful people and I am hoping to do so again next year. Traveling is a revelation as you realize that we are all very similar and that goodness and generosity of heart transcend national boundaries.Though Susan is now back in Miami I think I miss her the most as we have an intellectual connection and I consider her a friend par excellence…they don’t come along that often …I wish her the best as she pursues her dreams and I hope she knows that.
Tomorrow I hope to get the hearse back and I will commence my interviews here on Tuesday. Fodor’s T&T will slip in somewhere in between the ABC writing. It will all come together. Having traveled on islands that have no natural drinking water but have managed I am dealing with the fact my condo, on an island full of fresh water, has no water at, all with a rather circumspect approach. If I say I am on vacation it all seems amusing and somehow better. Bucket bath anyone?
Sitting in the lobby area of Breezes on my last night in Curacao for this year though I will definitely be back for work and pleasure. The sad thing with these trips is that by the end, no matter how wonderful the island, I am totally overdosed on site inspections and driving around. It is a pity because Curacao deserves so much more of my attention but Stephen has been a trooper and we have had a great time despite the schedule. Today was another litany of visits but since it is his daughter’s birthday we arranged things so i could be back at the hotel by mid-afternoon – and not a moment too soon I would have hurled if I saw another great property.
I often find myself faced with dilemmas during these assignments. The hotel here is proving to be one at this point. My room is good and the staff have been excellent but for the second night in a row I have seen large rats running around the beach restaurant which is closed at night. I know there are hazards to having a place on the beach but these are huge ( 5+ inches excluding the tail) and the beach hut is awfully close to the main pool and restaurants. I told a manager and he seemed most concerned and vowed to call the exterminator but how long have these creatures been there? It doesn’t look like they just showed up fully grown…and last night I saw at least five of them.I will consult my editor as to the proper course of action. Editors always know…I am one of them and I always do.
Tomorrow we will have a few more inspections before I head off to catch Surinam Airways for Port of Spain. The flood damage there yesterday was awful so I am dying to see what it looks like when I arrive. My bright spot tomorrow…Stephen has promised to take me to the old market for local food..I am happy already.
I could not resist the Seinfeld reference but seriously it was a really long day today of inspections and reviews. I started at 7:45 am and was dropped back at my new home Breezes Curacao at 9:45pm. Glamorous life of a travel writer ….yeah…sure.
At least I had a great dinner at the Marriott with the lovely woman from marketing who hails from New Zealand. Now that would be a great place to visit. The rack of lamb was also quite amazing.
Off now to have a quick Pernod poolside so I can face another day of this tomorrow. At this point on the trip I don’t know if I am coming or going. I also note with alarm that rains in Trinidad have turned the area of my condo into a disaster area..a fact verified by Alvin who was spending the night at my place and is now stuck.
This is such a beautiful island and it screams to be photographed. Today was just the usual flurry of Stephen and I running around to various properties. Willemstad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it truly deserves the nomenclature. It is like a strange slice of Europe in the Caribbean. Cobblestones, magnificent architecture, lovely small shops…all here and all delightful.
Had dinner at Fort Nassau high above the city and actually enjoyed it though the portions were too big for me. Perfect carpaccio, tender ultra rare steak and an incredible view. Not bad though Fort Nassau is not exactly an affordable place.
I think I may need to take advantage of my EU passport and move here and open an affordable restaurant based on true Caribbean fusion. I can do it and it would put me in a place that I love and that is close to Bonaire ( the place I love for no rational reason) and Aruba where I have friends.
This might be a life changing trip..and practical too..I could save a fortune on airfare every year if I lived here. Interestingly, before my first trip to Curacao I had a very vivid dream in which I was in a church yard and was walking around looking at a peculiar above ground cemetery and exploring the grounds. When I arrived in Curacao I was being driven around and the actual church in my dream came into view. I screamed..STOP!! And I walked around the property and it was exactly what I saw in my dream and explained why I was puzzled by the architecture in my dream. Curacao architecture is unique so small wonder I could not place it. Since that time I have felt an affinity for Curacao. Stephen kindly stopped at the church today for me to see it and I was reminded of why I have a bond with this island. My dreams told me about it before i ever arrived.
Today was the day I said another said farewell to perfect little Bonaire and, it being my last day, naturally storm clouds rolled in. I puttered around my room and eventually ended up at the restaurant for a quick sandwich and some welcome WiFi surfing before Rolando arrived to take me to Flamingo Airport. I bid farewell to the lovely Rolando and eventually made my way onto the wretched 14 seater Insel plane I have come to loathe so much. I don’t like small planes and I especially don’t like small planes in bad weather. It was, predictably, a rough 20 minutes in the air before I was finally able to release my grasp on the bottom of my seat and unclench my jaw on arrival at Hato in Curacao.
Stephen was there to meet me as arranged and we basically it hit off right away as he is quite the great conversationalist. We arrived at my first Hotel the Kura Hulanda which I have always known to be an exceptional property but have never stayed in it. It is not a normal hotel in fact it is as far from a normal hotel as can be imagined.It is essentially a village in Willemstad that had a number of fine 18th and 19th century buildings that a Dutch billionaire bought up as a ruin and then restored with attention to every detail. It is now an 80 room luxury hotel in the form of a village and I don’t mean theme park here…it is completely authentic. You walk through a maze of cobblestone streets and lush landscaping to your room in one of the original homes in the area. My suite is so unbelievably beautiful and luxurious I was almost taken aback when the bellhop showed me around.
Picture 2 king beds, antiques galore, a lovely sitting area, a writing area, a small dining area and a step-up bath and you get the picture. I can’t imagine a more atmospheric and spacious room anywhere. Now it is not a cheap room ( about $700 US a night) but honestly it is as romantic as all get out.The hardest part of this trip will be leaving the room.
I also had a chance to chat with Delno at Kura Hulanda’s sister property on the other side of the island. He suggested I stay with him for the rest of the trip and I am trying to figure out if that will be possible given the 45 minute drive from Willemstad. Still, he is one of the funniest and warmest people I know so I will try to make it work as I know we would have a blast. In any case I have decided I will come and visit him on vacation just for the pleasure of his company. We will discuss the logistics of this trip over breakfast tomorrow.
Now if you will excuse me I am going to sit in my antique dining area and admire my room.