Monday, December 29, 2008

Conquering Curacao

Well, we've come to the halfway point of my 22-day journey. These last few days have been spectacular. First of all there was Christmas, and we had a two-day vacay including Boxing Day. Our holiday included nice meals, a party buffet dinner on Christmas Day at the Hilton including live music and festivities, some good Christmas cheer (including the liquid cheer), and a Friday morning hike up the mountain in Christoffelpark, the national park here on Curacao.

The hike was good -- we had to go early in the morning so as not to sweat to death. It was a group of seven of us in two cars including one of the students from here who goes to the Netherlands Antilles university. He said that when he left in the morning his wife had asked who is going on the hike, and he had said, "Oh, such and such students, plus the American professor." Then he realized that sounded so cinematic-adventure like, a la Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park. So, all through the national park that day we pretended the group project was going to go drastically awry at any second , particularly when one member of the group split off, then another ... one member of the hike also pretended her cuts from the rocks were velociraptor scratches.

Saturday we had a day of class again, interrupting our holidaze (ha). However, once afternoon came I was back on the beach although we had a bit of rain that day. Eight of us went downtwon for dinner that evening and had another chance to watch the moving bridge. I refer of course to the Queen Emma Bridge, which is (so they say) the world's largest floating pedestrian bridge. Willemstad is on both sides of the harbor, so you have to walk across the bridge, or take a ferry when the bridge swings open to let the ships pass. Watching the bridge open and close is half the fun of living in Curacao. It moves to the side on these little boat/barge things. Picture a needle on a dial going from vertical all the way to one side. As we watched it that night one of the other girls and I marvelled about how I went 30 years of life without knowing this cool little place with its UNESCO-noted brightly colored buildings and its waterfront and its moving bridge even existed and she said it made her think, yeah, it makes you wonder how many other things in the world we just don't know about? (I'm helping you all out by alleviating your ignorance and putting Curacao and Willemstad on your radars now.)

Yesterday, on what was the best adventure yet of this trip and one of my best adventures ever, actually, we went to Klein Curacao. Those familiar with German (or Mozart) will recognize that klein means small, and, indeed, Klein Curacao is a little tiny island that is part of Curacao but is unihabited. Uninhabited! I couldn't get over how awesome that was. I've never been on an uninhabited island (unless you count Alcatraz -- but this is totally different). We got up before dawn and rode a boat for two hours to get there, watching our civilized and suddenly large-seeming island of inhabited Curacao fade into the distance. The boat rocked in the waves (those poor seasick people) as we watched flying fish leaping about the vast, dark blue sea that stretched for miles around us. Finally we arrived at our slab of land that the nine of us friends have decided to conquer. We decided it will be our new nation state and we gave ourselves various jobs and cabinet posts. Among other things, I think I'm the permanent poet laureate.

The company that runs the boat trip has a(n uninhabited) shack there where they keep snorkels and a bit of indoor plumbing, and where we had breakfast and later a huge fantastic barbecue lunch on picnic benches. We swam, sunbathed, snorkeled (snorkeling rules), slathered on ridiculous amounts of sunscreen and still turned many colors, rode an inflatable banana boat, and just basically gazed at the endlessly beautiful water. We also walked around the little island and checked out an abandoned lighthouse (dilapidated floorboards and all), a couple of shipwrecks, and a whole lot of trash, mostly plastic bottles and shoes, that has washed up from the rough waves on the south side. (We decided that's the ghetto of our new civilization, and will promptly assign someone to clean it up.)

Now it's back to going to classes three days in a row again: such a hard life.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Two things:

1.) I think your noting of "such and such students plus the American professor" in comparison to Indiana Jones should be supplemented with a picture of your hat. Maybe even with him wearing it.

2.) There was an Anthony Bourdain episode in Peru where he quoted a friend or someone: "The more I travel, the less I know." I love that quote. I think you've given a good demonstration of it.