Not Blue in Curaçao

Why did we listen to other cruisers? Some who were in Curaçao before us described it as a utilitarian place to shop and get boat parts. They also said the anchorage was not very pretty and there were few attractions. They were dead wrong!

A short overnight in Klein Curaçao on the way from Bonaire A short overnight in Klein Curaçao on the way from Bonaire
Klein Curaçao is a day-tripper destination that gets completely quiet when the tourists leaveKlein Curaçao is a day-tripper destination that gets completely quiet when the tourists leave

Curaçao is charming, and the people welcoming. Yes, the provisioning is outstanding and it’s easy and affordable to get boat parts; but to sell this island as just a pit stop for cruisers is an injustice. Our timeline allowed for just over a week’s stay; upon arriving, we immediately regretted our decision to spend such a short time here.

Our anchorage in Spaanse Water, "Spanish Water"Our anchorage in Spaanse Water, "Spanish Water"
Spaanse Water is a large completely protected baySpaanse Water is a large completely protected bay

The city of Willemstad, founded in 1634 by the Dutch, is an architectural gem and a foodies’ paradise. The combination of European, African, and South American culture create a lively, colorful tableau and a fascinating mix of languages that seem to be spoken all at the same time. Some signs are in Dutch, others in Papiamentu, others in Spanish, and even a few in English.

The colorful waterfront of WillemstadThe colorful waterfront of Willemstad
Color everywhereColor everywhere
Beautiful architecture at every turnBeautiful architecture at every turn

The fragrance of fresh fruit wafts from the open air markets, sometimes accompanied by the not-so-pleasant aroma of the fishing boats. A large fleet of small vessels from Venezuela tie up in a canal downtown, and sell their fresh catch right on the dock.

It's even colorful at nightIt's even colorful at night
Pedestrian bridge in Punda, WillemstadPedestrian bridge in Punda, Willemstad
Willemstad at nightWillemstad at night

The city is filled with small, brick-lined pedestrian alleys bordered by stores, restaurants, and art galleries. On Thursday nights, these alleys become the setting for a public street party. There’s live music at every turn, bars set up on the corners, people spilling out from restaurants filled to capacity, spontaneous dancing in the streets, and an overall mood of merriment. The best part is that it’s not an orchestrated tourist event; it’s mostly locals enjoying a night out in their city.

Louis Armstrong is his idol and he played for us as we dinedLouis Armstrong is his idol and he played for us as we dined
This band got a lot of people on their feet with their mix of Calypso and MariachiThis band got a lot of people on their feet with their mix of Calypso and Mariachi
Street DJStreet DJ
Made new friends at an art galleryMade new friends at an art gallery

Then there’s the magnificent street art. This is not just the work of a talented person with a spray can. The Willemstad street art is composed of larger-than-life relief frescoes that play with light and shadow to create brilliant displays.

Relief frescoes on so many wallsRelief frescoes on so many walls
Counting flowers on the wallCounting flowers on the wall
Larger than life iguanasLarger than life iguanas
More "traditional" wall artMore "traditional" wall art
We spotted several colorful ladies in townWe spotted several colorful ladies in town
This Brazilian tall-ship added to the downtown beauty the day we checked outThis Brazilian tall-ship added to the downtown beauty the day we checked out

We also explored beyond the city. While looking for Fort Beekenburg, one of the best-preserved Spanish Forts in the Caribbean, we stumbled upon a local baptism in the sea. A local church was welcoming a new member into their flock with beautiful hymns sung in Papiamentu, as well as a full-body dunk in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. At first we kept our distance as not to intrude, but the smiling faces of the celebrants told us that we were a welcome addition to the festivities.

Local baptismLocal baptism
Not sure why it's prohibited to "feel free" at this beachNot sure why it's prohibited to "feel free" at this beach
Fort Beekenburg with our anchorage in the backgroundFort Beekenburg with our anchorage in the background
Fort Beekenburg, built 1703Fort Beekenburg, built 1703
It's bigger than it looksIt's bigger than it looks
Steps to Fort BeekenburgSteps to Fort Beekenburg
Beautifully preserved fortificationBeautifully preserved fortification

I guess you can sum up the locals with that one simple statement, “smiling faces everywhere.” We left Curaçao also wearing smiles, because we know we are coming back one day.

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