Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Korsou - sweet heart of the Caribbean

Curacao lies like a lizard - one of those woodslaves (tiny enough to be abbreviated to one of the ABC islands - the others being Aruba and Bonaire) - parallel to the Venezuelan coast. Over 40 nautical miles away and seen on the island's south horizon only on a clear day, the mainland influence is pervasive and constant. In the beginning of June at the time of our visit, you feel the Andean presence in the brooding overcast cloud and sometimes oppressive humidity.
Lizards everywhere - including this iguana that comes to the pool
The bounty of the big country comes ashore in the floating market in Willemstad, the "old and new" market where vendors sell everything from herbal oils to fresh meat, clothing and souvenirs; as well as in the giant supermarket. The resorts of Curacao are filled with as many families from Venezuela as with Netherlanders.
Floating market: products brought by Venezuelan boats

Quayside of the floating market
It is Venezuelan oil that keeps the heart of Curacao beating. The refinery - a sprawling complex of flaring chimneys and domed tanks - is served by tankers gliding through the port, undeterred by pontoon bridges which part in anticipation. Everyone else waits, or takes the ferry. Built by the masterful Dutch, Willemstad port features dry docks, an economic zone, a state-of-the-art container terminal and cargo wharves. The city is built around the port channel: impressive restored forts - now hotels, restaurants and offices - and a shopping district picturesque as little Amsterdam painted in Caribbean brights.
The refinery and port around which Willemstad flourishes

Chi chi dolls are created by Serena Israel as a cottage project for women

Basic forms in white plaster are painted in Korsou style by women

Dutch order and discipline are the backbone of the society. One of the largest desalination plants in the world provides sweet potable water. Beaches are mini resorts, fully equipped with deck chairs, restrooms and showers, bars and restaurants, dive shops, and discreet ticket collectors. It's  hard to not pay the tariff when you are already on your back in the shade of an ajoupa or basking in the sun at the edge of some of the bluest water in the world. Hundreds of cays and sandy spits provide prime real estate for tourism business, or larger exclusive homesteads and rentals.
Caribbean Flower - a modest apartment hotel in a quiet suburb

Ranbow over Piscaderabaai, home of CARMABI

Boca Ascension, pounding waves carve uplifted coral rock

Playa Forti - dive into deep blue from a cliff forty feet high!

The native of Curacao is Dutch with Euro- and Afro- ancestry in increasingly diverse proportions. They are as likely to speak English, Dutch, or Spanish but all speak Papiamentu - the creole dialect that is enriched by constant use. They call their island Dushi Korsou - sweet heart (if you consider that Curacao might be related to corazon) or sweet healing island (if you take the meaning "island of cures").

The downsides? You can have too much heat and sun. Don't leave anything visible in your car or you'll certainly have broken windows.
Korsou: coral rock and curling water! Sweet, hard, enduring

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