Caribbean :- Curacao

Wed, July 31

Curacao (pron. “Cur-ah-sow”……we just found that out today, I am ashamed to say!!!!) is the largest of the Dutch ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and you can easily see the Dutch influence in the colonial architecture. All the houses are painted in bright colours and the story goes that previously all the houses on the islands were white. However an enterprising previous governor (who was also a partner in a paint company) decided that white was boring and it would look better if people painted their houses in different colours and so that is what they do right up to today. It’s the same in Aruba.

Another story we were told was that when people died, they were buried in cemeteries above ground. After about 5 years their bones were removed, crushed and put into boxes and stored in their families’ cellars, leaving room for other bodies – a form of “time share”!!! In recent years, cremation has gained popularity and now there is a waiting list.

We did a nice tour of the island, starting with a drive through Willemstad, the newer section of the city, over the Queen Juliana Bridge and a visit to Chobolobo, the Dutch colonial estate where the famous Curacao liqueur is distilled. Samples were ready for us … very nice. Continuing through the eastern part of the island, we visited the Caribbean Handicraft shop and Chichi’s Workshop. “Chichi’s” is a nick name for women of Curacao and we could not resist buying one of these unique little sculptures, which are painted by the local women in lovely designs and tropical colours.

Markets were plentiful around the ship selling a variety of local crafts and there were many jewellery and designer brand label shops and the island is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Our first time in the Caribbean – and hopefully, not the last!
Sun Princess Curacao 008 (800x530)

Sun Princess Curacao 045 (800x530)

Sun Princess Curacao 013 (530x800)

Curacao factory

Curacao factory

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Cemetery

Cemetery

Chichi Art Factory

Chichi Art Factory

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Sun Princess Curacao 077 (800x530)

An example of the beautiful architecture - note the white trim which is typical

An example of the beautiful architecture – note the white trim which is typical

Queen Juliana Bridge

Queen Juliana Bridge

Sun Princess Curacao 081 (800x530)

Caribbean – Aruba :- One Happy Island

Tue, July 30

A few days ago, our captain announced that we would be changing course and heading straight for Aruba due to a hurricane forming in the vicinity of Antigua, where we should have been heading to.

We decided not to pre book an excursion and found it quite easy to hop on a mini bus which took us all around the island. The people were warm and friendly and even children are taught at school how to be nice to tourists, as it is the only industry on the island. Aruba became its own country in 1986, although it still remains a Dutch protectorate.

It is a small island, only 19 miles long and 6 miles across its widest point so it didn’t take long to drive around and see the highlights which included the Casibari Rock Formation which we climbed for a good view of the island, past some beautiful beaches, the Butterfly Farm, the Californian Lighthouse, named after the steamship which sank near the coast in 1891 and the Alto Vista Chapel The island does not get very much rainfall and it was amazing to contrast the lovely beaches on one side with the arid desert-like conditions on the other, with lots of cacti growing in the bush.

The weather was quite hot, so after some lunch back onboard, we set off for to do some shopping. Aruba is known for jewellery shopping, diamonds in particular, and although I loved the range of pink, yellow and blue diamonds, Alex was quite relieved when I wasn’t tempted to buy.

We then hopped on the local bus for a short ride to Eagle Beach, one of the many excellent beaches around the coast. I was quite pleased to see that it was netted, as we had been told that sharks and sea snakes (growing up to 5 feet long!!!) were on the other side of the island. We rented two banana lounges and had a lovely afternoon on the beach. Aruba’s beaches are stunning and the water was perfect. I had forgotten how lovely it is to swim in the ocean and could have spent the day there quite happily!!!

When we arrived back downtown, we stopped (as always) to try the local beer. It was very good on such a hot day and we were amused to find that the beer glasses were so heavy; we had to use two hands to drink! We loved this island with its crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches and were on deck to wave goodbye as we sailed at 7.00pm.

California Lighthouse

California Lighthouse

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Alto Vista C hapel

Alto Vista C hapel

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Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach

The highlight of my day in Aruba

The highlight of my day in Aruba

Cacti growing down the middle of the street near the beach

Cacti growing down the middle of the street near the beach

Old number plates decorate a bar

Old number plates decorate a bar

Aruba shopping

Aruba shopping

Local beer - Sea Princess in the background

Local beer – Sea Princess in the background