Curaçao

– visited October 2013 –

It is easy to recognize Curaçao from the air. A flat island with a massive harbour, basically an inland sea called Schottegat. It does not look beautiful as this inland sea is home to a big refinery of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA. Curaçao is considered as a part of the Caribbean but geologically it is already part of South America. Politically, it gets a bit complicated, Curaçao is in fact one of the four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The other constituents are nearby Aruba, still-Caribbean Sint Maarten and the Netherlands proper. On paper, the four parts are equal but in real life the Netherlands (98% of the population and area) seems to be more equal than others. Still, Dutch travellers arriving straight from Amsterdam were surprised that they had to show their passports which were closely examined. Funny story at the side, citizenship is a Kingdom affair but as the European Union was founded the Dutch Caribbean territories (back then organized differently) were explicitly excluded. This leads to the situation that Curaçao’s citizens are EU citizens but the territory they are living on does not belong to the EU. Everything clear?

It is already dark as I start to explore Willemstad, it looks pretty Dutch but most people on the streets are American, the Carnival Freedom lies in the harbour.

I have only one full day, so let’s get as much into that as possible. In the morning it is time for another city walk, colourful houses, small alleyways, a nice café, the camera shop has a microfiber cloth for me, the ATM gives me lovely US-dollar bills, the future, that means Venezuela, is just around the corner and you cannot have enough cash there. The Maritime Museum finally opens its doors.

I take the bus to the northwest of the island, beautiful snorkelling at Playa Lagun. Curacao has a completely different vegetation than the other islands I visited, the climate is different here, it is dry not full of tropical exuberance, cacti are the order of the day. In the evening, I visit Shete Boka National Park where the waves batter the cliffs. The next morning, I head to the airport again.