|The Temple Emmanu-el was
completed in 1867 and is the oldest
synagogue in continuous operation in
the Western Hemisphere.
|The main capital of Willemstad is separated into two parts, Punda and Otrobanda, by the waters of St. Anna Bay. The two parts are connected by
Queen Emma Bridge, primarily used for foot traffic, and another large vehicular traffic bridge. Without a doubt, the waterfront street of Handelskade,
on the Punda side, is the most memorable sight in Curacao. The Dutch colonial architectured mansions were originally owned by wealthy merchants in
the 1700-1800s. The area is well preserved and is now occupied by restaurants, shops, banks and other commercial properties. Legend has it that a
popular governor some 200 years ago complained that he got a headaches from waking up to all the white houses along the waterfront. In deference to
their leader, the islanders have painted their homes in bright pastels ever since. This panorama is undoubtedly my favorite shot taken in Curacao.
|Curaçao (KUR-a-sow) Facts...
Size: 182 square miles
Official language(s): Dutch &
Government: Dutch Territory since 1527
and part of the Netherlands Antilles
Currency: Netherlands Antilles guilder
(ANG) aka Nethrlands Antilles
Florin (NAfl) $1US = 1.75NAfl
|The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge was originally a
toll in place which was charged to only those who
could afford shoes. Poor folk borrowed shoes and
paid the toll so as not to be embarrassed. The
rich, too stingy to pay, crossed barefoot. Some
things never change! Here's a shot of the bridge
opening to allow a freighter through.The bridge is
now free to cross as are the ferries that also
transport people across the 500’ wide bay. The
bridge opens up to 30 times a day to allow water
traffic to pass. The bridge tender actually starts an
engine and “drives” the pontoon bridge to an open
position. The process takes about 30 minutes each
|The "Floating Market" in Punda is a delight to the eye. The
brightly colored Venezuelan boats line up along the wharf and
open stalls for sale of fresh produce and fish. This photo
appeared on the cover of Carribean Compass in 2004.
|We spent Mother's Day walking around
town and visiting the excellent Kura
Hulanda Museum. Touted to have the best
African collection in the Caribbean, the
museum is dedicated to the history of
slavery, slaves and the development of
Curacao through the centuries. The museum
which opened in 1999 covers all aspects of
slavery and those involved. The "Face of
Africa" above, is a huge bronze statue in the
center of the courtyard in the museum.
|From the balcony of the second floor of the
museum, we could see row upon row of orange
clay tiled roofs...typical of Dutch architecture are
the shuttered dormers.
|s/y Nine of Cups
|View from Breedestraat towards Otrobanda and the
Queen Emma Bridge.The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge,
affectionately called the "Swinging Lady" by locals, was
built in 1888 to allow traffic to pass between the two parts
of the city.
|The bright blue liqueur, Curacao, is made
here exclusively at a distillery housed in
Landhuis Chobolobo, an old country
mansion. Evidently, when the Spaniards
arrived on the island in 1499, they brought
hundreds of orange trees with them to plant.
The poor soil and local climate however,
changed the fruit from sweet to bitter and
inedible. So the trees were forgotten and left
to grow wild. It wasn’t until decades later that
someone accidentally discovered that the peel
of the orange when thoroughly dried in the sun
contained a delicate oil with a pleasing
fragrance that could be distilled into a unique
liqueur…hence the Curacao of today.
|Our walking tour of Punda included a
building with a carillon. The bells would
chime at each half hour and could be
heard several blocks away.
|Who can forget the local beer?
Amstel is a Dutch beer and the
only beer brewed in Curacao.
Supposedly it gets its unique
taste from the distilled sea-water
used in the brewing process.
|While shopping for souvenirs, we ran into
Sondra, who owned Curacao Creations.
Curacao has extremely friendly people and
Sondra was no exception. We chatted for quite
awhile and she told us about a Papiamentu
idiomatic expression: kab’i boto which literally
means “Head of the boat” but figuratively means
getting a “free ride” in Papiamentu. It seems in
the olden days before the bridge, people took
the ferry across the bay. If you sat up front in the
boat, you got wet and didn’t have to pay the
fare. Hence, a free ride in Curacao.
|Ft. Amsterdam, originally built in 1635,
now houses the governor and several
|Entrance to and exit from Spanish Waters required
careful maneuvering through a fairly narrow inlet close
to Barbara Beach. We were told it was a nudist
beach so David had no problems staying close in, but
alas, we never saw a bare bottom during our transit.
|From Spanish Waters we headed out to Aruba on our way to Cartagena, Colombia…at
last. We were within 5 miles of our overnight anchorage in Aruba when an Aruban Coast
Guard boat pulled up beside us. They asked all the usual questions…who are you, where
are you coming from, where are you going to. We told them we only intended to spend
the night in the anchorage in Aruba and not check in. Hmm…they pondered and finally
answered politely, but firmly, that unless we intended to check in with Immigrations and
Customs, we could not anchor. Ah…a dilemma. Checking in and out, though free in
Aruba, takes time and is a pain since the boat has to be brought to the Customs dock for
inspection. Now usually this wouldn’t be a problem, but the wharf is a commercial wharf
intended for large freighters and ships and as such is huge and not “sailboat” friendly. We
opted to head out directly to Cartagena…another 450+ miles away. So…the passage
notes on Aruba are pretty slim. We visited once in 1997 on a sales incentive trip and now
we saw it from 5 miles out…that’s it! C'est la vie!
|Cartagena, Colombia remains one of
our favorite cities ever visited. Find out
why by coming with us.
|Curacao is the
of the ABCs.