Willemstad, Curacao - Arrived January 8, 2005

 

(Written by Steve Jan 8, 2005) - received January 8

We have arrived in Curacao

 
We can not get a full story out not even from the phone, so I give the skinny on the ships system. The seas have been really rough, and last night was a killer. Well at least we thought so, but the crew said those were only ten foot waves. They told us they had just got hit with 50-60 foot waves before arriving in New York and bigger ones when they were crossing the Atlantic,. Great! Helen is not doing well at all, and we were told to just get to Curacao and it will be the first magical part of our holiday. The beaches are spectacular here, but we have only one problem. We are in a monsoon, and rocks and trees are moving onto the roads and places are flooding. Well after getting hammered in our room for the last 2 night, we went to beach anyway. The Taxi floated through the streets and dropped us off at a wonderful little beach. We played soccer and looked for shells (Yes in the rain) and then we went to one of the many grass huts for lunch. It was fantastic, and as long as you did not look outside. Danika said she wants to move here. So far every place we have been, one of the kids want to move there, or Nikolas as Nikolas would say "Lets just buy a cabin there"  We then grabbed a taxi and toured the island, and Curacao is one of the prettiest place I have ever seen, except for the refinery or two in every city you drive through.
We will send out a full story as soon as we can get our phone to transmit it, maybe from Panama city. Helen is going to try and go to bed early, as she is not looking forward to the next 2 days in the Caribbean sea. She heard it's snowing like crazy back home, and would love to be there if she could. Talk to you from Panama City,
 
Steve

 

(Written by Steve Jan 8, 2004) - received January 11 

I am still trying to figure out why this ship comes all the way down here to Curacao, itís a really long way from Florida. Then we get back into the roughest sea I have ever been in (Caribbean Sea) and burn all the way back up to the Panama Canal, itís a long way. Hey, donít get me wrong, Willemstad is a very cool place and I am very glad to be here, especially since itís dumping snow back in B.C., but we are here for only a day.

Curacao was protected by the British in the 1800ís and then turned it over to the Dutch in 1863. The Royal Dutch Shell Company chose to come to Curacao with its perfect harbour and political stability. The site was an excellent location to build a refinery and process Venezuelan oil. The refinery brings prosperity to Curacao and people come from all parts of the world to work here.   Willemstad is the capital and full of 18th century Dutch colonial houses that look over St. Anna Bay. The island itself is 60 km long by 12 km wide and has a population of 175,000. The currency is the Netherlands Antilles Florin and Guilder. I have never been to Bermuda, but I have always imagined it would look just like this place. Except Willemstad has a lot of refinery stacks and it kind of takes away from the whole cute Dutch feeling thing.  It is really beautiful here and you can walk right into town from the ship, and not even the rain will stop us. After getting roughed up for the last two days by the ship, itís so nice to be on land. We are going to spend most of the day at the beach, even with rain. I didnít think Helen was going to be coming right away, because she did not sleep a wink last night due to the rough seas, but she got up and we all went to the beach.

The beach is nothing less than superb; it stretches out in the shade of coconut palms and is completely vacant because of the rain. The beach we are on is called Kontiki Beach and is located right next to the Breezes hotel and the Plaza. This place is usually humming with activity Iím sure, but not today, we were the only ones. We did a bit of shopping and had been on the beach for about and hour playing soccer with Mark from Amsterdam. We then went to a bar restaurant located right beside the beach, it was very tropical. There were about 20 grass huts that hold 6 people each and someone from the restaurant comes over and takes your order. This was very cool and we were glad the rains had let up a bit so we could relax and have some food and drinks. Our Taxi driver came back and picked us up and took us for a tour to a bit of a tourist shops that overlooked the Spanish Waters Bay. In the bay you could see a big oil rig that had been brought in for repairs and it was cool because we have never seen one before. After about an hour of sightseeing, Franklin (Our Taxi Driver) took us back to the ship. It was a great day considering it monsooned down rain till 3pm and then lightly rained for the rest. Back to the ship for another bumpy ride to Panama City.  I really hope not.

Kontiki Beach

 

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(Info below taken from Internet - webmaster)

Willemstad, the capital of CuraÁao consists of two parts namely Punda and Otrobanda. Punda itself was established in 1634, when the Dutch captured the island from Spain. The original name of Punda used to be de punt in Dutch, in Papiamentu punta which literally means the point. This later degenerated to Punda.
Otro banda
means the other side. The name originated in 1707 when the first buildings were constructed on the western side of Santa Anna Bay and Willemstad's inhabitants needed to distinguish the new part of town from the older part, Punda. Otrobanda is the historical melting pot, where from the synthesis of many races, nationalities, cultures and languages, CuraÁao's culture originated.

The Handelskade or Trading Quay in the language of the people known as Awa sŠ, lies on the Punda site. In former days this quay was known as the waterside. The name of this quay has a historical explanation. Up to the end of the 19th century this was the main mooring place for ships. The most important buildings such as offices and warehouses of Willemstad were situated along the quays. The unique architecture and red tiled roofs call Amsterdam to mind. The tiles came from Europe as ships' ballast. After the ships were discharged, they were loaded with salt from the saltpans for the curing of herring.

The St. Anna Bay, a natural entrance to the Schottegat, separates Punda and Otrobanda. It has been assumed that it was on July 26th, on the "Day of St. Ann", the Spaniards came ashore. This explains the name Bahia de Santa Ana (St. Ann's Bay) for the harbour mouth. To ensure the island, especially the harbour several fortresses were built.

http://www.curacao.com/info/willemstad.html

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/caribbean/curacao/