16 December, 2018
Well….it’s always nice to get a quick and dirty overview of a new location. The Admiral found an outfit that offered tuktuk tours of Willemstad, so the day after we arrived, we Tucks were tucked in the back of a tuktuk with our new friend Nigel at the wheel. At 6’ 8”, Nigel hadn’t fit the profile of former tuktuk drivers in southeast Asia, but after he folded himself in, he was one with the machine. We spent a couple of hours together, seeing the sights, learning some history, and ugh! talking politics. It was a blast. Note to selves… “Schedule tuktuk tours for the kids.”
Our favorite tour director, Paulette scheduled a dive trip for us with Go West Diving out at Westpunt, the western end of the island. Marilyn and Steve, friends of John and Paulette’s from 2 other boats joined in, and we car-a-vanned out to west end. We did 2 boat dives on the dive boat, captained by one certifiably crazy captain-they were delightful. Of course, you can’t do an outing with J&P without food. We had a late lunch at Playa Forti restaurant, located on a cliff overlooking the azure blue Caribbean sea. Second note to selves... “The kids will love this restaurant.” By the way, there was a nice little bay near the restaurant where the fishermen cleaned their fish and threw the offal into the water. Yuck? Well no, not really. The turtles were always present in droves. The chance of seeing a turtle was 100%. (third note to selves).
I’m pretty sure that I mentioned that we were moored in the entrance to a large lagoon called Spanish Waters. The several square mile lagoon made for great exploration, both by kayak and dinghy (cocktail cruises). Literally, 100’s of boats were either moored or berthed in there.
More tourist stuff. We toured the Aloe farm and the Curaloe product manufacturing facility, a commercial Ostrich farm, and the ChiChi studio (Serena’s Art Factory). Gotta check out the fat lady figurines at: https://chichi-curacao.com/
“De Koksmaat,” a top-end kitchen supply store was a regular stop for us (you know us, hardware stores and kitchen shops). Owned by Monica and her husband Wilfried (a retired high-end caterer) had a small commercial kitchen in one corner. In this kitchen, he put on a weekly cooking demonstration, each week with a theme. Wil would cook one course per hour for 4 hours from 1100-1400 every Saturday. His philosophy was that great food needn’t be complicated to cook. No, we didn’t hang out for 4 hours. We’d show up for the last 2 courses, but by the time we left Curacao, he knew that we were coming, so he’d reserve a couple servings of the first 2 for us. Oh yeah, we bought a few gadgets too.
We’re still looking for fun stuff to do when the kids arrive, so it was our duty to take a day trip out to Klein Curacao, a small island around 8 miles east of Curacao. Although there are many operators who go there, the gang aboard “Blue Finn,” a 75’ catamaran came highly recommended. We were rather familiar with the boat, as she came past our dock twice a day-early morning and late afternoon. The boat had a great playlist and a killer sound system. Looked like the crew was always having a good time. It was a no-brainer. They picked us up at the Girl, then we motored over to Jan Thiel, where we picked up the rest of the touristas. We had a wonderful day, anchoring on the lee side of Klein. We had time for a snorkel before lunch was served on the stern of Blue Finn. Afterwards, Suz and I walked this small coral islet to the lighthouse on the far side. We climbed the lighthouse, snapped a few pics and checked out a shipwreck nearby. A bit more swimming, then sailing back to Curacao with an open bar with a never-empty glass completed the day. The Admiral and I decided that it probably wasn’t a great day for our soon-to-be 1 year old grandson or anyone that couldn’t/shouldn’t handle a day of extreme sun. Grandpa and Nanna (did I really say that?) had a great day, though. (fourth note to Selves.)
Crikey!! Christmas sure got here in a hurry! We got the Girl all dolled up a couple days ahead of time. Suz had her Flamingoes in their Christmas hats and driftwood Christmas tree inside, and I (a.k.a. Clark Griswald) had my strings of lights outside (on a timer, of course). Off to the States to see the fam, John and Paulette kept an eye on our little ship.
Back from our Holiday foray to the States, it was time for the Pagara celebration. Don’t ask me-I have no idea about the origin or the meaning of the festivities. The high point is the lighting of millions (literally) of firecrackers in and around Curacao, with the majority taking place in the Petermaii district of Willemstad. Strings of firecrackers, bound together in 8” diameter snakes up to a couple hundred meters long are laid out in the streets and lit on one end. After 250,000 firecrackers have blown, you can’t see across the street the smoke is so thick. Walking along and following the main fuse is painful, as unlit ‘crackers blown from the main bunch explode randomly in the smoldering ashes. Okay, those are the big ones. Smaller strings, maybe only 10,000 or so, are going off here, there, and everywhere for 4 days. The strings on the sidewalks are setting off burglar alarms, the ones on busy streets and sidewalks are stopping traffic. Stores pop up in empty locations selling nothing but firecrackers. Hey, any excuse for a party.
Suz and I were interested in the “Coral Restoration Project,” so got up with Ruud, at his shop Atlantis divers. There, he taught us how to clean the “trees” that he was growing coral on in the bay prior to transplanting it on the reef. With the participation of many dive shops on Bonaire and Curacao, the intention of the project is to rejuvenate storm-damaged reefs. The project is going well, as evidenced by the new patches of vital coral in many areas around the islands. We visited him several times, cleaning algae off the PVC trees with toothbrushes and scouring pads.
Our kids, Jeremy and Alison are both certified divers, but neither had been diving for years. We needed to find a place where they could do a refresher dive, and their non-diving spouses/kids could chill on the beach. Enter Samantha. We had met her and her partner,on our trip to Klein Curacao. They both worked at, and told us about a dive shop at Blue Bay. Sounded ideal. Suz and I road tripped there. Nice sand beach, palapas, 2 restaurants. Check. (fifth note to selves).