Day 20 — Arrived in Curacao at dawn. Can’t wait to go ashore after 7 days at sea. We’re in the first group off the ship but we can’t find the tour group we thought we had booked. Oh well, we find a small van that we hire with 6 other passengers to take us on a 5 hour tour of the west side of the island. Gentre, our guide, drives off with 8 happy explorers in tow.
We visit the north side lava shore where the high surf makes the entire shore like one big blow hole! Waves crash and rumble against the lava rock and erupt into the air, sometimes 30 or more feet high. Cameras happily click away and wait for the next thunderous crash. Many dozens of photos later we move on to an even more spectacular spot, Bon Bini Beach in Shete Boka National Park, where the waves perform for us again in a sequel that outperforms the first spot.
Then it’s on to visit Turtle Beach, also known as Playa Piskado, where sea turtles swim. At the entrance we stop for a quick photo of Octopus Tree, a fun tree where a local artist has used his creative vision to decorate the tree and its exposed roots. The turtles, partly domesticated by a local who calls them by name and they come when whistled at. We walk out on a short pier and watch their antics as small fish are tossed about to feed them. People swim around them and are cautioned not to touch them.
We leave this wondrous place and arrive at Museo Tula Bon Bini, a plantation where slaves were kept and we hear the story of the plantation and the slave life from a descendant of a slave. Truly horrific stories of repression and slave culture are shared and our guide even has us participate in song and dance with her and a good time is had by all. We see many statues around the island of an arm and fist holding a broken chain and we now know it represents the slaves breaking free.
Moving on, we travel a short distance to Playa Knip. A beach rated the 8th most beautiful beach in the world. Wondering what we will see, we arrive in a very crowded parking lot that could be at any beach in the world. We get out and walk towards the beach and soon see why this place is so renowned. The water is azure blue, that color the mesmerizes the eyes and the sand is pearl white and smooth. The beach is framed with volcanic cliffs where beach goers jump off into the crystal clear azure water. A truly spectacular sight for the eyes and any camera lens, we proceed to feed our camera cards with images that satisfy as much as a 5 star chef would fill a belly. As we drive away, we see a sign depicting the Hollywood of Curacao, Williwood!
Unfortunately, we soon are coerced into leaving this magnificent place and work our way back towards our cruise ship. We do get one more stop at a series of lagoons where we’re told we can see flamingos. The driver points in the direction for us to walk as she is not comfortable leaving her van on the side of the road unattended. We trod happily off in search of these pink birds. One appears in the distance but too far away for even a zoom lens. We continue walking and are mesmerized by what appears to be anemones in the shallow water but turns out to be a form of short tentacle jellyfish and our cameras make their best attempt to emblazon their images for our future memories to relive. We walk as far as the path will allow and finally do see a group of seven flamingos off in the distance and my zoom lens does it’s best to capture an image.
Walking back to the van, happy chatter with the other passengers ensues on the way back to the van. Then it’s a 20 minute or so final journey back to Willemstad where our ship awaits. But we all ask the driver to drop us off at a walking bridge towards the shopping district as we still have several hours before the ship is scheduled to depart. We walk about the picturesque town, cameras still clicking happily and we find some sundries to make our journey more pleasant. Then we spot a sign that brags The Best Mojitos in the World, and we just have to check it out, especially considering the also advertise Happy Hour! They are surprisingly quite good! Mojitos in our tummies and sundries in our sack, we make our way back to the ship.
Back on board, I don my swim trunks and soak my tired feet in a hot tub on board and meet more new friends and share the days stories. The show tonight is comprised of the Cruise Director Tony as he does a one man cabaret. Actually turns out more entertaining than we thought.