Curacao Day 4

The great thing about vacations is you don’t have to have a schedule if you don’t want to. We got up late again today. There’s something really nice about sleeping in.

We checked out a restaurant in the Pietermaai area of Willemstad called the Scuba Lodge. Reviews told us the breakfast there was really good. When we arrived, we were greeted with seating that was mere feet from the ocean. There’s something nice about watching the waves crash in front of you while enjoying your coffee.

Despite the toast being hard, breakfast was really good. Some place we would definitely try again.

We decided to head back to Westpunt in the afternoon to snorkel at Playa Grandi. We heard Grandi was a great place to see turtles while you swim. We were greeted by many turtles, drawn to the area by the arriving fishermen who were discarding their trimmings over the side of their boats. The turtles are so graceful and did not seem to be afraid of humans. Though I didn’t try, it seemed you could reach out and touch the turtles.

Though I did my best to avoid the sea life, it seems they didn’t play by the same rules. I got stung by a jellyfish. Ouch!

Alicia, as we all know, she likes to talk to strangers. She struck up a conversation with Ard while on the beach. Ard worked for Sea Turtle Conservation Curacao. Ard was at Grandi checking on the turtles, making sure they were healthy and uninjured. Ard told us he was heading to another beach to look for more turtles. Ard had heard a turtle at the other beach had gotten stuck with a fishing hook and he was going to make sure no other turtles were hurt. Alicia asked Ard if we could come along to watch him look for the turtles. Ard was fine with it and said we could help him if we felt so inclined.

We headed for Santa Cruz Beach and me Ard and two other conservationists. Flowing into the bay in front of Santa Cruz Beach was an estuary leading to a lagoon. Ard’s plan was for Alicia and me to walk the estuary, making noise to cause the turtles to move toward the bay. Ard and the other conservationist would wait where the estuary met the bay and count the turtles as they swam past. Ard managed to spot five turtles, but he was not able to tell if they were injured because the water was so cloudy. Nonetheless it was fun to help. We are all about doing things on our vacation that are outside the ordinary.

We had dinner at Azzuro at Blue Bay. Azzuro was a fancy place that was on the jetty separating Blue Bay from the ocean. I had carbonara that was wonderful! For dessert I had some tiramisu that left a little to be desired. Tiramisu should be a little more than a martini glass filled with lady fingers and whipped cream.

Back at the apartment we got to Skype with the boys. Due to the time difference, it was difficult to catch them. Grandma told us the boys missed us a lot and they were delighted to talk with us.

After a few days with no bugs, we found a dead roach in our room. We were hoping it had just wandered in from the outside while we had the patio doors open. It made us contemplate going home early again. Being told of a $200 change fee put a quick end to that thought.

Back in the USA we take for granted certain things, like decent bathroom plumbing. For some reason, we weren’t allowed to flush toilet paper in this modern apartment. It seemed weird to us that they would rather we toss our used toilet paper in the trash. Wouldn’t the smell of old toilet paper be more of a concern?

Good thing there are two bathrooms in the apartment.

Curacao Day 3

Sunday November 12

Woke up again around noonish and headed down to the beach for breakfast. I got a hard boiled egg with my breakfast that was without a yolk. That was somewhat strange. The coffee was very good for restaurant coffee. I guess they take their coffee seriously in Curacao.

We decided to head into Willemstad to check out the city. We arrived in the main port area of the city and found there was a cruise ship making a call. This meant that even though it was Sunday, most of the businesses were open. The waterfront was filled with the normal tourist shops offering t-shirts, ash trays, shot glasses, and other assorted wares emblazoned with “Curacao” on them.

We took a walk across the Queen Emma Bridge that crosses from the area of Willemstad called Otrabanda to the section known as Punda. The Queen Emma Bridge is a pontoon bridge that was originally built in 1888. The entire bridge spans St. Anna Bay and swings open on a pivot to allow ships to enter. Walking across the bridge, you had no doubt that it was floating, as you could feel it rise and fall.

While walking around Otrabanda, I found a Starbucks and gave it a try. There was something different about the coffee that I couldn’t quite describe. The flavor was different from Starbucks coffee in the US. I rather enjoyed the flavor.

I tried to find the police station in Otrabanda so I could make a trade for one of their patches. One of my hobbies is collecting patches from police departments in the places I visit. Unfortunately for me the police station was closed. It would be a quest to save for another day.

With no set plan, we didn’t know what to do. We decided to head up to the area near the airport to visit Hato Caves. The caves are limestone caves similar to ones you would see in many other places around the world. There were many cool formations inside and I managed to sneak some pictures despite being told they weren’t allowed. I’m such a rebel.

I’ve been to a few tour caves before and one thing they had in common was they were always cold inside. The Hato Caves were quite different. It was actually really warm inside them. So much so, that they had several large fans positioned around inside to keep the air flowing through them so they didn’t get hot. The tour guide said limestone is very good at absorbing heat, so without much earth above the caves, they get very hot.

Getting back into an air-conditioned car after visiting the caves was a welcome treat. We decided to head back to Blue Bay for a dip in the ocean to cool off. I once again brought my snorkeling gear with me. I headed about 200 yards out from the beach and swam around the edge of the breakwater. From the breakwater, I could see how the sea floor dropped off past it. The clear water faded into darkness.

After snorkeling we went back to the apartment to rinse off before going to dinner. We chose one of the restaurants at the resort called Pictures. I had a pepperonit pizza that was very good, despite the crust being like a cracker. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. Alicia had what had to be the smallest beef tenderloin I had ever seen. The restaurant was open to the outside, so I made sure to wear bug repellant. Unfortunately, the bugs in Curacao seemed to be immune to Off, so I was constantly swatting them away.

Back at the room, we decided to stay in and watch some TV. At the same time, we tried to cool the apartment down. Electricity is apparently very expensive on Curacao, so there were only air conditioners installed in the bedrooms. This led to a problem of the kitchen and living area getting very warm. The owner of the apartment was kind enough to leave an oscillating fan, but it didn’t do much other than move the hot air around. I got the idea of opening the door to the bedroom just off the living room and turning on the AC. I then put the fan in front of the door to blow the cold air out into the living room. This actually worked fairly well and the living room eventually got to a comfortable temperature.

Flipping through the channels on the TV in the apartment, I found many of the typical cable or satellite channels you would have in the US. They were, however, geared toward Latin and South America. I managed to find a baseball game! I had no idea what the announcers were saying, or who the players were because it was the Venezuelan league, but baseball is baseball.

After a while, we got a late hunger attack. We noticed a Pizza Hut on the map and decided to give it a try. We left Blue Bay for the drive to Pizza Hut a few miles away. It did feel a bit strange leaving the resort at night to go to a local place. But why did it have to feel strange? It seems we’re taught that it is unsafe to go out at night in foreign countries. That’s when bad things happen. If it’s not safe, then why do the locals go out at night? We don’t think twice about going out at night when we’re at home. In talking with other people who travel regularly, I’ve come to the conclusion that people are inherently good, and why should we feel any different about doing things that the locals regularly would.

On the way to Pizza Hut, we passed by a baseball field. It was 9 p.m., but there were still people out there playing. Jokingly, I said we should stop to watch or see if they’d let me join in. Alicia, ever adventurous, was up for it. Unfortunately, Pizza Hut was close to closing, so perhaps another time.

Surprisingly, the pizza from this Curacaoan Pizza Hut was really good. The white sauce had a different flavor from the Alfredo sauce they use at American Pizza Hut. They also use Gouda cheese in addition to the normal mozzarella cheese. I thought the flavor was much better than the pizzas they sell in the US.

Today’s lesson: Get a little out of the comfort zone and don’t be afraid to go out an about when you normally wouldn’t. Also, people in different parts of the world have different tastes, try the “normal” things, they might surprise you.