I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Entries in Curacao (2)


A colourful day–continued




We were booked on a simple “highlights” tour of Willemstad.  We didn’t want to go to the beach, didn’t fancy snorkelling and simply wanted to see what’s what here, so joined a dozen or so of our fellow passengers on a small minibus and headed off with Melisa, our guide, to learn a little about this place.




She was terrific!  Full of energy and enthusiasm and with a clear love of her island, she gathered us all up for the afternoon.  First stop, the Curacao factory.




She explained that the oranges grown here were too bitter to make marmalade, even, but someone discovered by accident that, if the peel was left in the sun, then good things happened.  Result, Curacao liqueur.




Still made largely by hand, we watched as the bottles were filled, labelled, stoppered and washed before packing.  Today, they were making the green variety and Melisa explained that, even though it comes in different colours, all of them taste the same.




Yes, there was tasting too.  As well as the orange liqueur, there’s a rum and raisin variety, a chocolate and a coffee one too.  She thought a mix of chocolate and coffee was the best, but actually, I preferred the good old original orange.




Our next stop was the “million dollar viewpoint”, conveniently to be seen from the back of a souvenir shop.  A fine view indeed, of the quieter southern part of the island, of the newer, more lavish suburbs and the smart harbour with many yachts anchored there.  I was tempted to buy a postcard for my journal, but spotting the 4 US$ pricetag (plus tax) I million dollar views don’t come cheap.




It didn’t stop me taking a photograph of a different, cute souvenir though.




A little further down the road, Mr Truman, our driver, made a hasty stop and pointed out a large iguana sitting in the bougainvillea by the roadside.  Cue the story of iguana soup, iguana sandwiches and so on – tastes just like chicken, apparently!  (Now, there’s a surprise)




What struck me from the moment we arrived, however, was the colours.  Every building was painted a different, bright colour with white frames and edges as specified by UNESCO, for this is a World Heritage Site.




Not all were brightly coloured, but even so, the architectural details picked out in this way were simply beautiful and looked marvellous in the afternoon sunshine.




Our next stop was the Maritime Museum, a small but fairly new collection with one or two interesting things to see.




In particular was one model we recognised.  There was that long pier arrangement we’d seen earlier, the one with the floating pontoons underneath it.  We learned that it was a floating bridge and that it swivels at one end to create a temporary and very easily moveable crossing for the inhabitants of Willemstad to cross from one side of the river, Punda to Otrobanda, literally “the other side”.




A photograph alongside the model showed it in use by what looked like the whole population!  Oh my, I wonder, could we take a walk over it, maybe?




Before we left the museum I bought a couple of postcards to send home, buying the stamps at the same time.  The stamps came in a little plastic bag and I didn’t realised until later that there were so many!  They had been put together to create some interesting postage, especially for sending abroad, so we licked and sticked…sorry, stuck….and hastily sent our love home.




We continued our tour through the residential district where there were several beautifully restored homes.  On the way, Melisa pointed out the one huge drawback of the painted surfaces – the salt air causes the paint to peel and discolour and in no time at all, they have to be repainted.  Every year!




Renewed respect then, for these little beauties.




Even more respect for those with so much detail picked out in white, which must take forever to decorate.  But oh, how beautiful they are, and when seen as a collection, even better.




Throughout the central area of the city every building was a masterpiece of colour and design.




Every time I’d taken a photograph and thought “that’s it”, I’d see another beauty.




Or four.




But of course, we couldn’t carry on down every single street like this, and having said goodbye to Melisa to make our own way back to the ship, we decided on one last place to see – the “floating market”.




Our map had this marked as a must-see and so we made our way to the riverfront and wandered along, marvelling at the variety of fresh vegetables and fruit.  As we did, we noticed something rather fun.




This was a drive-through market!  Stallholders were standing by the kerbside and as cars drove slowly past them, they opened the window and called to say what they wanted to buy.  They drove around the block and by the time they returned, the stallholder would be standing on the kerbside holding out a plastic bag with whatever had been requested, ready to hand it over in exchange for the money.  Such fun – and exactly the kind of thing I love to see and work out what’s going on.   So glad we came!




One last thing remained – we were going to cross the floating bridge!  Luckily, it was there and people were crossing right now, so we hurried along and hoped that it wouldn’t move before we got there.




Look at this!  It was a bit bouncy, but thankfully there weren’t as many people using it as in that old photograph at the museum!  What a clever way to allow people to cross whilst at the same time allowing shipping to move up and down the river.




Having crossed over the “the other side”, we took one last look at those brightly painted buildings and continued on back to the ship.




Looking up to see if we could work out which was our balcony, we spotted the friendly face of someone waving to us.  Zahid had seen us walking along the road and guessed that we’d look up. 

Welcome home, he said!


A colourful day

I took so many photographs today that I’ll split this post into two, to save overload.

We'd rocked and rolled overnight, which I found rather comforting until I heard a tap-tap on the balcony window sometime before dawn.  I nudged my hero and suggested he investigate, but having made a short and rather half hearted attempt to discover the cause of the tapping, he returned to his cosy bed and went back to sleep.  I didn’t.  I could hear this knocking and couldn’t work out just where it was coming from until I got up and felt sure it was coming from outside.  Well, when you’re on the tenth deck of a ship and you hear tapping on your window, you have to be half asleep to be courageous enough to open the door to the balcony and see what’s what.

Having rearranged the deck chairs out there – one of which had shifted in the swell and was knocking on the glass patio door – I resolved the irritation and peace returned.  I climbed back into bed and went back to sleep.




At breakfast time this morning it was still pretty choppy and making our way across the pool deck in search of breakfast, we chose to avoid the spray from the swimming pool!  We found our favourite table however and watched as the waves broke in the wake, creating spray and a complete semicircular rainbow, from one side of the ship to the other.  What a lovely, colourful way to begin the day!




Sometime just before lunch, we looked out and saw land.  The island of Curacao was just on our port side and as always, we felt excited to be getting near to a new port of call.




I love the business of arrival.  I love to watch as the pilot boat appears and we begin that whole process of getting this huge ship into port.  This morning, the little boat was being tossed all over the place and we felt for the poor pilot who had to transit from his tiny boat to ours.




Seeing him make an entrance via rope ladder made us even more sympathetic.  He must have nerves of steel!




All the time, the little tug Caucedo stood off a little, ready to escort us to our berth.  (That’s another one for my “tugs of the world” series, by the way!)




Getting closer to Willemstad, we began to spot the colourful houses.  I knew nothing at all about Curacao, except for the fact that the buildings are remarkably photogenic.  Now, where were we going to dock?




We leaned out a little and hoped that the empty berth just there had our name on it.  The staff captain appeared to have it in his sight and we did seem to be heading that way.




As we sailed by the little stalls along the harbourside, people waved.  What fun it is to arrive at midday and to have such a warm welcome!




We tried to work out what the long platform was alongside here, noting that there was no way we could dock alongside something that had all of those pontoons fixed.  All was to become clear later, but for now, we sailed past that bit and sure enough, were aiming for the berth that we’d seen earlier.




Captain Felice and the pilot were in control and moved this huge ship as if it were a small toy.  Such precision is truly remarkable – how on earth do they do it?  (I know, they are professionals!)




With the minimum of bother on the dockside, we were soon berthed and secure.  The gangplank was pushed out, was adjusted and made safe and in no time at all, we were in business.

Come and explore Willemstad with us in my next post!