PC – Day 7 – Curacao

Thursday, November 8, 2018 – Curacao

The port time today is 8:00 – 4:00. By the time I got up at 7:00 and went outside, we had already docked. It was cloudier today than the previous days on the cruise. Still very humid. I like the buildings in Curacao as they are all painted in bright colors. Locals say that it was the 19th-Century Governor-General Albert Kikkert who is responsible for the colors. They say he suffered from migraines that he thought were caused by the harsh reflection of the sun on the white buildings so he decreed that they could be painted any color other than white. They chose the bright Caribbean colors of blue, green, yellow, and reds. The architecture has earned a designation as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

They allowed people to start getting off of the ship at 7:45.

After finishing our coffee, we ate breakfast in the Lido this morning. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected. It was also raining pretty hard so we were debating about whether to get off or not. Once we finished breakfast the sun was back out, we got our backpack together, got a bottle of water and left the ship around 9:30. Stopped at the visitor center and got a map. Again, we ran the gamut of vendors. We walked along the paved trail by the ocean. It was considered the historical trail and every now and then there would be a sign describing some aspect of Curacao. They were very informative.

Curacao is the “C” in the ABC islands. It is named for the Portuguese word “heart” when it was discovered in 1499. Curacao is 38 miles long and is about 7-8 miles at its widest points. Like Aruba, Curacao has a multi-cultural population, speaking Dutch, Papiamentu, English, and Spanish. The currency is the Florin, like Aruba. The cuisine is a mix of Caribbean, Dutch and Latin American flavors. Traditional dishes include kadushi (cactus soup) and Keshi Yena (baked gouda cheese stuffed with meat, raisins and olives). We tried neither of them.

An important role was played by Curacao during WWII. It was a vital conduit for Allied oil from Venezuela, and there was a large oil refinery here (as well as one on Aruba), which became a target of German U-boats and bombers. At various times during the war, 43 to 100 percent of the oil required by Allied forces came from the refinery on Curacao.

Many people associate Curacao with the liqueur of the same name. It is flavored with the dried peel of the Lahara citrus fruit which is grown on the island. It is orange-flavored, with varying degrees of bitterness, and when it is made, it is colorless but many times it is colored blue or orange before bottling. The Blue Hawaiian and the Blue Margarita are popular drinks made with Curacao. I’m not really a fan.

The trail we took led to the Rif Fort which has been incorporated into the Renaissance resort and casino mall area on the Otrobanda side (residential side) of Willemstad. People could still walk up the steps and walk on top of what remains of the fort which gave us a nice view of the entire area. It started raining again but very briefly and not very hard. Actually helped to cool us though we did bring our cooling cloths again.

We then kept walking to the pedestrian Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, the only wooden pontoon bridge in the world. Sixteen pontoons float as the bridge swings open. She is nicknamed “The Swinging Old Lady.” From the ship, earlier that morning, I saw it swing open to allow some boats to come into the harbor area. However, while we were over there, no boats wanted to pass so the bridge remained intact. You could also take the free ferry from one side to the other.

We walked over to the other side of Willemstad – the Punda side (commercial area). We entered the Governor’s Palace courtyard and looked at Fort Amsterdam. Looked a lot like the Rif Fort. Both forts guarded the entrance of the harbor with large cannons so it must have been well protected in its day. Chuck asked the security guard at the entrance to the Palace if she thought the Prime Minister would see us since we had made a special trip. She took us seriously and told him no. Didn’t crack a smile. Probably gets that joke a hundred times a day. Stupid tourists.

Had my picture taken by a Chichi sculpture. The word chichi means ‘big sister’ in Papiamentu, the eldest daughter of the family, who binds the family in a caring and loving way together. Chichi is represented in Caribbean artwork as a sensual well-rounded figure, representing the responsible, dynamic and vibrant older sister. I thought it was an appropriate option for my picture.

It seemed to be getting hotter by the second so we decided to head back to the ship. I did find some free WIFI outside near the Pizza Hut so I was able to check emails and Facebook while sitting in the shade. Got the all good message from our cat sitter but since she responded on Sunday and today is Thursday, I just have to hope all is still good.

We did a brief walk through of the casino. Saw slot machines that I recognized but they appeared to payout in Florins. We didn’t play.

Once we were back on the ship, we changed into bathing suits and cover-ups. Ate a light lunch at the Lido. Was the least crowded of this entire trip. Found a table easily. After eating, spent some time in the hot tub and in the sea view pool. For a long time, we were the only ones in the pool which is always nice but then more people starting returning back to the ship and the pool was a popular option.

After spending some time in the sun, drying off and reading, came back to the nice cool room and took a nap. Wasn’t long before we heard the announcement that we would be setting sail.

Tonight was our Pinnacle Grill reservation for dinner so we planned to dress up for dinner. Chuck got finished dressing first so he went to the casino while I finished up.

Our reservations were at 7:00 and we were seated promptly even though the restaurant was very crowded. Again, the service and the food was outstanding as it has been on previous HAL cruises. I had the shrimp cocktail and the king crab legs while Chuck had the crab cakes and the cedar-plank halibut. We split a cheese plate for dessert. I had some of the coffee which is always good but very strong. I had a hard time sleeping this night.

We went to the BB King show and then went to the main stage show – Island Magic. It was a quartet of people from Trinidad who played the steel drums. I was expecting a reggae and calypso show but they played show tunes and classical musical on the steel drums. Very entertaining. We listened to several tunes from Andrew Lloyd Webber including the one from Phantom of the Opera. Also played Ave Maria.

Tomorrow is a sea day so after the show we went back to BB King and ended up a very late night. Tonight’s towel animal is a stingray.

Seaside historical trail and bright buildings.
Not much left of the Fort
Two chichi’s

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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