Day 102, Year 1: A Visit to Willemstad, Curacao
Date: Friday, January 27, 2006, AST 2200
Air Temperature: 82 degrees F
Water Temperature: 80 degrees F
Location: Spanish Waters, Curacao

We started our day taking a dinghy ride into the fishing village here in Spanish Waters and then walking to the bus stop. We had been told that the bus would take us to Willemstad, and indeed, it did. The couple from Double Dutch that we had met last night at Happy Hour at Sarifundy’s Marina were on the same bus and helped to give us better directions to Customs and Immigration. Until now we have had cruising guides to give us details on how to find things in each port, but the cruising guide for Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba has not been updated and is out of print. We had information from cruisers we met in Bonaire, but it was sketchy.

Customs was not far from the bus stop, but to get to Immigration, we had to take a ferry across the water from Punda to Otrabanda (the other side). Punda is the business center of Willemstad and Otrabanda is the old residential quarter. We then had to hike a ways and work our way through a maze of waterfront buildings to find the Immigration Office. Today was election day in Curacao and most everything closed at 1100, but thankfully Immigration was open until noon. Once we finished with that process we headed back to the downtown waterfront in Otrabanda and walked along Breedestraat. We found the Museum Kura Hulanda and had a wonderful tour with a guide named Dennisha. A Dutchman named Jacob Gelt Dekker privately funded the development of this anthropological museum that opened in 1999 and “it offers a world-class chronicle of the origin of man, the transatlantic slave trace, West African empire, pre-Columbian gold, Mesopotamian relecs and Antellean art”-all in a very small space. It was fascinating and we could have spent many hours there. Mr. Dekker has a home that is actually part of the Museum and spends time here every year. He is only 57 and got his start by establishing the One-Hour Photo development business. He has traveled widely throughout Africa and the Middle East gathering the relics for this museum. Whomever he has hired to be the curator has done a phenomenal job. I was very surprised that taking pictures was encouraged, but I took advantage of the offer and will have those added to the photo gallery as soon as I can get to a high speed connection to send them to the website via my son Justin.

We had lunch at the Gouverneur De Rouville overlooking the waterfront and enjoyed the view of all of the candy-colored waterfront buildings. The architecture here is referred to as “wedding cake” and that is evidenced in the yellow, pink, turquoise, purple, and green buildings with their intricate while trim.

Curacao has a population of 150,000, with 125,000 of them living in Willemstad. It is a city and comes with all of the problems cities have, but it does have a charm that comes from its mix of Caribbean and European culture.

Tomorrow we will take the Sarifundy Marina shuttle to the grocery store and to Budget Marine. They are holding a copy of the Panama Guide for us. If time permits we will try to get in a snorkel in the afternoon. We found out this afternoon that our watermaker parts that we ordered on Tuesday are already in Curacao. We called a distributor in California on Tuesday. They called the factory in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the order was shipped immediately via UPS International. The order went from Minneapolis to Louisville and arrived here in Curacao yesterday-before we got here–and went through Customs. They were sent out for delivery this morning, but because it was Election Day, they will not be delivered to us in Spanish Waters until Monday-if we are lucky. This is island time.

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Days 103 and 104, Year 1: Hanging Out in Curacao
Day 101, Year 1: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow