01.21.2013 - 01.21.2013
As we entered the narrow harbor of St. Anna's Bay (which opens up to be the 7th largest natural harbor in the world), Curacao's Dutch heritage and "storybook" appearance was delightfully on display.
The Serenity is docked inside the harbor. Looking out from a rear deck you can see the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge for pedestrians. It swings wide open when ships enter the harbor.
Our afternoon tour took us through Willemstad to some of the sights on the island. The coming Carnival (which is 3 weeks away!) parade route is already lined with people's chairs - reserving their spots!
This is an obligatory stop on most tours, and a chance to taste Curacao liqueur - the distillery is north of the city and is the only place in the world where the original liqueur is made. The secret recipe evolved using dried orange peel from inedible oranges.
Here we were, just 35 miles from the northern coast of Venezuela in a 38 mile long volcanic island, home for over 50 nationalities. The Dutch West India Company claimed Curacao from Spain in 1634, but it was rarely peaceful in ensuing years as the French and British battled each other in the New World. Only after 1814 and the Treaty of Paris did things calm down and the Dutch influence and control resumed.
We arrived at the Hato Caves - don't need to understand the language to understand this warning - don't eat or touch those little apples on the ground! They are poisonous!
The Caves are high above sea level and they are made of coral! Eons ago caves formed under the sea and since being above ground the coral is being draped with the limestone formations we expect in underground caves. They are hot and humid, since they are above ground - but the fruit bats like them!
On the hillside Ed caught sight of this lovely pair of parrots.
So pretty, even at night. We learned a few words in native Papiamento- there is no set spelling for the language, so this is what I heard: Bom bini (welcome), Masha danki (thank you very much) and Sushi (garbage!).