Tuesday, June 11, 2013

One Dushi Island....Curacao

They saved the best for last as our Caribbean cruise dropped anchor in the port of Curacao, pronounced by the locals as Kewr-rra-sow.  As we docked in the historic port of Willemstad, our eyes were greeted with rows of colorful buildings of Dutch architecture, from the 17th and 18th century, that reflected in the clear, turquoise waters below.  This utterly charming little village was loaded with shops and restaurants within walking distance from the ship.  One of six UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Caribbean, this lively little port has preserved 765 buildings as national monuments.  The locals are of African and European heritage with more than 50 nationalities represented.  We heard many languages spoken here including Spanish, English, Dutch and Papiamentu, a native, creole dialect. 

View from the ship

Another View

Pullmantur's Monarch docked in the port of Curacao



"Just Call Me Dushi," was printed on many of the T-shirts that lined the windows of the little shops in Curacao.  We entered one shop to inquire about a tank top I saw in the window and Clyde asked a male clerk, "what does dushi mean."  The young man said "mi amor," "hey sweetie," "or anything nice" and went onto explain that it could be said to anyone.  As he gave us this explanation he moved in close to Clyde and stroked his back, while calling him "dushi."  But fortunately for him, whatever happened in Curacao stayed in Curacao, unless your wife happens to be a writer that tells the world about your chance encounter of being touched by a local. The young man sold us the tank top for $7 whereas the female clerk quoted us a price of $8 each or 3 for $20.  So just perhaps a little innocent flirtation saved us a buck?
Love this plate!
House Boats docked nearby

Shopping Area where US dollars were gladly accepted!
Colorful shops on a cobblestone street

 
Music for the tourists, the only thing missing was a monkey

Closed Car Wash in port and numbered parking spaces.
There were little machines nearby to pay for parking spots. 



Curacao is world known for a liqueur that bears the same name, and that was our first stop on today's bus tour.  The Curacao Liqueur Distillery owned by the Senior Family since 1896, is located at Landhuis Chobolobo, a country estate built in the 1800's.  Made from the dried leaves of the laraha tree, a non-native plant similar to a Valencia orange that was brought to the island by Spanish explorers.  They tried to grow oranges on the island but due to the poor soil quality and arid climate the trees produced only small, bitter fruits which they later cultivated into a new variety with bitter fruits used only for the liqueur. 

Boni Bini means "welcome," and here we are at the entrance
 to the liqueur factory. 

Tour guide pointing things out

Our visit to the distillery included a self-guided tour along with tastings of four or maybe five samples, but who's counting, of the famous liqueur.  Although the most famous variety is known as "Blue Curacao," the liqueur is actually produced clear with colors and flavors added later.  It comes in blue, green, red, orange and the original clear and also comes in three flavors, coffee, chocolate and rum raisin.  I can't recall which flavor was my favorite since I downed the samples quickly at this 9am stop making my memories of Curacao a bit fuzzy.  We did buy a sampler package of coffee, chocolate and rum raisin to help remember our day on Curacao with, at a later time.
Bottling Process in this small operation

The company also makes a product called "Alcolado Glacial," used for cooling off and keeping bugs away. Our tour guide sprayed some in the palms of our hands but mine ricocheted and splashed me in the eye, causing it to burn.  So I downed the samples of booze with one eye open as we were pushed along through the tiny factory to keep the tour on schedule.
Landhuis Chobolobo connected to the Liqueur Factory. 
 This building was the gift shop where they sold the stuff.

Next stop was for shopping at the Caribbean Handicraft, which was supposed to be the largest tourist shop on the island.  Featuring a large selection of handicrafts, and typical touristy stuff we picked up a few keepsakes.  The terrace behind the building opened up to a breathtaking, panoramic view of the Caribbean where sail boats and yachts from around the world could be seen.

Found this giant lizard slithering
close to the entrance of the shop




The Vacationers

View from Shop




Our last stop gave us some time to relax and sink our toes into the white sands of Mambo Beach.  Located on the southwestern coast of the island, this beach, bar, pool, cabana, and restaurant area was just gorgeous.  The white chase lounges and canopy beds were inviting and the perfect place to lay to catch some rays.  Although Clyde couldn't enjoy the crystal clear water with stitches in his foot, I could and quickly undressed and took the plunge.  A jetty of rocks ran parallel to the shore line keeping the larger waves further out, making it easy and safe to wade.  Clyde found his own type of entertainment snapping pictures of tight, tanned butts wearing thongs while I marveled at the muscled male eye candies escorting them.  Chocolate skinned, multi-lingual, young girls walked around as waitresses trying to sell us drinks and food while we lounged on the lazy beach.  After an hour or so I felt well baked by the tropical sun and ready to board the bus and head back to port. 

My beautiful lady in the blue waters


Jetties across from us


Close but not "in" with the
bandaged toe



Too many people around to
rent one of these



OOPS!  I don't know how this picture got in here.
She must have been 18 years old, very young!



After our bus trip we walked back onto the ship for a quick shower and some lunch before heading back into Willemstad for some shopping.  The historic area near the port consists of two areas, the Punda and the Otrobanda  separated by Saint Ana Bay. The two quarters of the city are connected by a floating pontoon bridge called Queen Emma Bridge.  Built in 1888 the bridge sits on 16 floating pontoon boats that support it.  Also known as "The Swinging Old Lady," it swings open powered by two boat motors,  allowing ships to access the port. From 1901 to 1934 a toll was charged for pedestrians to cross the bridge, except for those crossing barefoot. As you can imagine people simply removed their shoes to cross for free and eventually the fee was dropped.  For us crossing the bridge felt like walking drunk, as we swayed back and forth just like everyone else until we reached the other side.  A loud alarm bell sounded when the bridge was about to swing open to allow a boat to pass and pedestrians ran, jumping over the open section over the water to get the other end before they closed the gate. On our way back the alarm rang and we got stuck on top and had to wait until they reopened the gate at the end.

Approaching the bridge

Walking on the bridge

Bridge opening for a boat

Tugboat passing through

 


Back on board we stopped for a few drinks in the nautical themed Fragata Bar before getting dressed for dinner.  Tons of food for dinner with some white wine always made us wonder if the ship was a rockin' or maybe we were always a bit tipsy?  The Broadway type of shows were usually at 10pm and with a few more pina coladas and margarita's to hold us over, we fell into bed each night well relaxed. 
Star of the show

It was a good show


And although I enjoyed the early morning sunlight poking through our ocean view window, Clyde preferred to cover his head with a pillow and catch a few more winks as he gave me my "alone time" to get ready for another day on board the Monarch....along the gringo trail.


2 comments:

  1. We spent 4 weeks in Curacao in January of this year so your pics bring back lots of memories! Being that the island is know for its diving, while on our vacation, my husband and I both got our scuba diving certification. After completion, we both bought a t-shirt from the dive shop which said "Dushi Curacao". We too asked what Dushi meant and were told it meant "Dive" - lol. I guess it can mean whatever the locals want it to mean!

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  2. You are both Dushi to us. But, Clyde doesn't have to worry about me stroking his back. :-)

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