Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Caribbean Diary 09: Curacao

Posted by Lissa on April 26, 2009

[Please note that the Internet access is very spotty here — some of these posts are scheduled in advance.  Pix when I get back to Lissaville!]

The morning of our day at Curacao dawned bright and pretty.  Mike once again performed admirably, bringing me enough coffee and food to tempt me out of my warm blanket-encased cave.  (Given the choice of food or sleep, I will take sleep EVERY time.  Unless I’m in actual danger of starving to death, but in that case I’d probably eat one of the pillows, roll over and hit snooze.) 

We hopped on a bus and took off to visit one of the local artists, Yuri something-or-other.  (I’ll look up his info when I’m home and posting photos of his work.)  His shtick was that he creates art out of junk material – hubcaps, car hoods, bumpers and other various scrap metal.  Y’all know me, I’m an art moron, but even I could tell that his stuff was wicked cool.  Of course – again, y’all know me – I was equally fascinated with the artist’s BUTT-ugly Mexican hairless dogs.  Those things were FREAKISHLY hideous, but quite friendly; a good thing, as I insisted on petting them.  Duh.  I also found a Manx cat that reminded me of our dear beloved Gypsy, so I had to scritch his cheeks for a while.  (I miss my Rajah-kitty . . .)

An interesting note from the tour guide regarding the houses – apparently the governor of the island once-upon-a-time hated white buildings, so he made a regulation that anyone who wanted a white house had to apply for a special government permit, to be renewed every ten years.  After he retired it was discovered that he was the owner of the sole paint factory near the island.  (snerk)  I’m sorry that he exploited his constituents and all, but I can’t help but be pleased with the results – the blue and pink and yellow and orange houses are quite picturesque!

After the artist we went off to the Cave of Hato (Cueva de Hato), which many years ago was home to escaped slaves on Curacao.  There is very little fresh water on the island – they have an enormous desalination plant nowadays – but the caves had two freshwater springs.  The former slaves therefore traded the fresh water to the local Indians for food and other supplies.  The cave was pretty enough, but I think I’ve been smugly-snottishly-spoiled in that regard; my idea of pretty caves is the Luray Caverns.  (Ooooooo.  *SHINY* caverns.)  But I did enjoy the tour, and I *almost* managed to pet a bat!  (Okay, not really.)

We definitely enjoyed the first two stops on the tour.  The third stop, unfortunately, was a little less fun.  (Slight political digression here – family, feel free to skip down to the next paragraph!)  It was billed as “Museum Kura Hulanda, an exhibition of the island’s African history” and in fact it started very auspiciously – a large, beautiful sculpture of Mother Africa.  But from there it went directly to a weighty lecture on how black people had been and are still victimized, horribly mistreated and exploited by evil white people.  Now, I don’t think anyone with even a little historical education is unaware of the evils of slavery.  But neither do I think it’s fair to treat the white-enslavement-of-blacks as the ONLY historical evil ever perpetrated.  I think it’s unfairly disingenuous to regale your audience with tales of the horrible punishments for slaves as a comparison to today’s human right standards.  Yes, slaves were evilly and horribly punished and mistreated, more akin to animals than to actual human beings, but it’s still fairer and makes more sense to compare that to punishment standards for other people and the rest of the world AT THAT TIME.  And I think it’s completely unfair to shake your head and sadly inform your audience that the Ku Klux Klan, which lynched and murdered and terrified blacks, is still in existence today.  That’s like saying there are still Nazis today, without explaining that they’re crackpots ignored and despised by the VAST majority of the population.  And what, exactly, do the stupid Kluxers have to do with the African history of Curacao?  (Mike was particularly irked that a lot of what the tour guide said was directly contradicted by the information on the written displays, as well as her speech about “the kingdom of Kah-ee-roh in Western Africa,” while the display clearly indicated Cairo, Egypt.)  Meh.  End political digression.

Anyway, after the tour we wandered over the fabulous floating pedestrian bridge to the market.  (That bridge was AWESOME; it floats on big pontoon-y things and turns sideways to allow ships through the passage.  I wanted to sit on the edge and just rock for a while but, hey, I was hungry.)

We wandered around for quite a while before we located a restaurant that had a) decent-seeming lunch food for b) decent-seeming prices, along with c) restrooms and d) at least nominal air conditioning.  We settled on Cantina Poca Loca and, since I was STEAMING, I selected a table in the very corner that had a LOT of wind whistling around it.  Turned out to be a little TOO much – at various points the wind took hold of my sunglasses, our menus, spare napkins, bread crusts, and a packet of mayonnaise (thankfully closed).  But at least we were cool as we nommed our club sandwiches (me) and schnitzel (Mike).  An interesting variation of schnitzel – they topped it with pineapple and smothered it in cheese before serving it.  We may have to try that the next time we make pork chops!

After all that we walked back to the boat to cool off and clean up.  I was so hot at that point that I practically ripped off my clothes, feverishly threw on my bikini and sprayed sunblock, then SPRINTED over to throw myself into the pool.  We always go to the Solarium pool because it’s adults-only; I like kids and all, but only in small doses unless they’re family.  The Solarium pool is pretty and conveniently located next to a bar, but they throw a crapload of salt into it L  On the upside, I can float!  Yippee!

After a shower and a looooong nap, we got dressed and went down to the Crown & Anchor reception.  Basically they feed you free alcohol, in exchange for making you listen to the new beautiful ships they’re launching next year, so you really should book your next cruise now-now-NOW!  I’ll take a lecture like that in exchange for free alcohol any day; I’ve been tuning out lecturers for over twenty years now.  Just ask my mom.  (Not really, Mom!  I listen to every single thing you ever said!  I swear!!)

The large lunch and champagne tided us over till dinner, at which point I enjoyed sweet crab and shrimp salad, filet of beef shoulder and a triple-chocolate platter consisting of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and white chocolate cheesecake.  Mike selected beef and veal tortellini (they called it some other fancy Italian word but I can’t remember what), a seafood penne fradiavolo and the BBB – crème Brule with Bailey’s, bananas and . . . um . . . brown sugar?  B&B?  Baby bok choy?  Maybe the Brule counted as one of the B’s?  Dammit!  Well, it was really delicious crème Brule, let’s leave it at that.  So was the savory-creamy-delicious tortellini appetizer; we were grateful there were only two pieces of pasta.  (Mike says he thinks it was “tortellacci.”)

After our cigars and drinks (Johnnie Walker Black for me, vintage port for Mike) we were still awake enough to go down to the adults-only game show at 11:15, and WE ARE SO GLAD WE DID.  It is AMAZING the things that slightly-inebriated adults will do for maybe, MAYBE a key-chain prize.  Among the things we saw: men holding three bras in their hands, women showing tattoos, women lifting up their skirts to show their thongs (not realizing that they only had to show FLIP FLOPS), two men demonstrating their favorite lovemaking position (not knowing they were allowed to bring down two female partners, rather than all doing it to each other!!), women wearing two men’s belts, a three-legged sack race where a woman had to stick one leg inside a pair of a man’s pants, women holding a piece of fruit (at which point cherries and pineapples started flying out of the stands), men holding up some form of birth control (examples included a packet of The Pill, condoms, plastic bags, wedding rings, and pictures of children), women holding something fake (sure enough, one woman ran up and pointed at her chest), and men holding up a pair of false teeth.  On that last one, one guy JUST missed the deadline, but received double points anyway after HE POPPED THAT SET OF TEETH INTO HIS MOUTH.  THEY PLAYED IT BACK SLOW-MO.  I WAS ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED WHILE AT THE SAME TIME LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY.

(And do keep an eye out for the photo posts when I come back; we have a lovely Miss America contest of men strutting their stuff while wearing a bra over their bare chests, carrying a purse, and often pantless.  You can’t wait!)

On a final note – I freakin’ LOVED Aruba and Curacao, because the official currency of those islands are florins and guilders.  Yes, really.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.

(BTW, dinner on the Aruba night was antipasto and minestrone for starters, chicken marsala and rosemary lamb shank for dinner, and warm chocolate cake and Tiramisu for dessert.  Mike really did like the Tiramisu but says it was like a solid block of mascarpone cheese; he was very glad later that he had not finished it.  Wuss.  Just kidding sweetie!  When I do the photo posts, keep an eye out for the video of waiters singing O Sole Mio in jumbled Italian, brava!)

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