After a day at sea, we arrived at Willemstad, Curaçao. This island is one of what is known as the ABC islands consisting of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Last fall we visited Aruba and Bonaire so we are glad to complete the ABC’s. The captain commented that Curaçao is his favorite Caribbean port.
Willemstad, pop 137,000, is the capital of Curaçao. Willemstad is home to the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas. In the 1600’s, Jews fleeing persecution in Spain and Portugal settled here.
Curaçao, pop 150,000, is in the southern Caribbean and north of the Venezuela coast. It is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the kingdom responsible for defense, foreign policy and ensuring that parliamentary elections are held. . The ABC islands are often referred to as the Dutch Caribbean. Curaçao is the largest of the ABC islands in population and area. The people here speak Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento, a Creole language.
Curaçao’s economy is based on tourism, international trade, shipping services and oil refining. Curaçao has a continental shelf with a sharp drop off known as “The Blue Edge” which attracts scuba divers from around the world. Its coral reefs, which can be reached without a boat, are popular for snorkeling. Unfortunately some of the coral reefs have been affected by tourism.
We really liked Curaçao. It was pedestrian friendly and the people were welcoming. We got off the ship early for our walk around the town. We walked across the Queen Emma pontoon bridge, nicknamed “The Swinging Lady”. Built in 1888, it is the oldest and longest floating bridge in the world. It rests on 15 pontoons and swings open 30 times a day to let tankers, container and cruise ships in and out of the harbor.
The Rif Fort was built in 1828 to protect the bay and area. It now has many shops and restaurants on four levels inside.
The Governor’s Palace is both a residence and a place of work.
The Fort Church is a Protestant church dating from 1796 and is still being used as a church today.
There are many colorful murals throughout the area.
We also managed to find a geocache! By the bridge is three heart shaped places to put your “love locks”.
The day before we reached Curaçao, the captain mentioned during his noon announcements that we would have windy weather in Curacao. The waves were crashing on the shore giving us a nice breeze throughout the day. It made for pleasant walking around the town, such a welcome relief from the heat that had plagued us for days.
The captain also said once we left Curaçao we would be moving into significant tradewinds on the way to the Panama Canal that would be giving us gale force winds and 15 foot seas. Oh boy! Hope I have enough Dramamine to weather that storm! Stay tuned!
Next up : the Panama Canal