Saying goodbye

“No woman, no cry”, the band at the Renaissance square played last Saturday night. The male singer agreed with my husband and said it meant “without women you don’t have to cry”, but luckily the woman knew the real meaning: “don’t cry, woman”.

I did cry. Just for a moment. Because of the song, that somehow always touches me. And because I knew that exactly a week later we’d be in an airplane on our way home. And because I realized I will have keep leaving in the future. And that would mean a lot of crying, since that’s how it goes for me. Two months ago it was hard to say goodbye to the girls and my parents and the cat and the house and the garden. And now that it’s almost over, I’m happy to go and see everybody and everything, but also so sad to leave. And this will probably continue (if there are no financial and health issues) the coming years. Constantly saying goodbye.

Luckily Theo told me to look at it differently. It’s not leaving one thing, it’s going back to the other. He’s right. It’s been only two months since I last saw my girls and my parents (and cat, house and garden). Not years. And I don’t have to wait too long until we go back to Curaçao either.

One would think we’ve spent that last weekend on the beach, since we can’t do that for a while. But we never do what you’d think. We’re rather rested by now, so we went to find some adventure again.

We started by visiting an open house at Blue Bay Resort. We wanted to find out what it would mean if we bought a piece of land there. Not very adventurous, no. But we got a golfcart to drive around in and that was quite the experience when we went down a steep hill and found out the brakes weren’t too good. It was a relieve to get into our rental car again.

Since Blue Bay isn’t really what we’re looking for, we drove to Grote Berg again. Grote Berg means Big Mountain and that’s a good name since it’s a neighbourhood built on a hill. We’ve been there before and we like it very much. People have been warning us about airplanes coming over, but there isn’t that much air traffic on the island and most planes are rather small. One of those came over and we didn’t even hear it. I think the wind blows the sound away or something like that. We think we’d like to rent a house there though, before jumping into buying something.

I was searching for lot numbers and prices at Grote Berg in the real estate booklet when I saw some very cheap lots somewhere else, where we’d never been. That’s enough reason to try and find it. It wasn’t easy, but it was a nice drive on small, new-to-us roads. But when we finally found it, we were done with it immediately. Not only it was right in the middle of nowhere, but it also smelled like there was an illegal trash dump there. I don’t even want to think about cleaning that up.

It was kind of shocking, so we drove to Westpunt to breathe some sea wind. And then decided to go for a swim on Noordpunt, which isn’t as far apart as it sounds.

Playa Kalki is a really nice beach. At first sight it looks small and it seams very rocky, but if you walk down and a bit further there is more. And sand. Also there are toilets and a little bar and chairs, which is good if you’re not a local and can’t bring chairs, sun screens and big cool boxes.

After our swim we drove back to town and had a chicken shoarma at our usual adress in the Riffort. And then we got down to the square where we enjoyed some live music the week before too. Another band this time, but these did a great job too (especially on reggae). We drank some coffee and some wine. And I stopped crying, since that’s no way to spent our last week. I'm really going to enjoy these last few days!







p.s. rather few pictures, I know. It just didn't work out Saturday. I did take a lot of pictures on Sunday, but I'm posting them somewhere else. In Holland "plogging" is a big thing now. It's basically documenting your day in rather raw looking pictures. I have been thinking about translating it and posting it here, but I'm not sure I have time for that. So for now, if you'd like to see what I've been up to, you can go here and just look at the pictures. Or maybe try the horrible google translator ;-)

Full beaches and an empty resort

It looked like a ghost town, but I could see it was meant to be resort. There were rooms, apartments, balconies. There were not windows or doors. Actually there was nothing that showed any sign of being used. Theo thought it was built in the seventies and never finished. I fantasized abut the thirties, being one of the very first hotels here* , popular in those days, but since forgotten and deserted. I am a very visual person, so I almost saw it, including the appropriate clothing style and cute little children playing on the strange little square that I realized to be a midget golf area.

We ended up here on our usual weekend “let’s-see-where-we-end-up-drives”. Actually, it started as a drive to the beach. But not to Blue Bay again. Despite, or maybe because, it being one of our favorite beaches, we’d been there last week and in the weeks before. We found we were getting boring and predictable. So we decided to go to a beach that we’d never been to before.
We checked the list in the newspaper (since that indicates if there are rental chairs, restaurants and such) and the map and decided to go to Daaibooi.

It was a great beach. But also very, very popular. And nobody had been planting lots of palm trees there like they did in Blue Bay (we heard one of the people responsible brag about it and he had a right to, that must have been a lot of work), so there wasn’t any shadow. The sun was too hot, so we decided to try the next beach. Playa PortoMari. Very nice too. Same problem.

So off we went again. That was the moment we decided to make it a “let’s-see-where-we-end-up-drive” and finish that with a swim at the Knip (our other favorite beach, down in the west). But we never do as we say, so we took that swim at Boca Santa Cruz, the next beach. This one we liked a lot. It was big, but full of fun people. The sea was rather shallow, so it was nice and even warmer than usual. The only problem was the amount of sea weed at the side we were swimming. I have a funny kind of phobia for that. I thought I’d outgrown it (it started in my early teens) but I touched a bit of weed and screamed, giving Theo a scare. I have to do something about that, but not now. Theo tried to make it into a joke, but I panicked every time he tried to pull me into the weed. Oh well, most of the beaches here are nice and sea weed free.

We dried ourselves off a bit, but didn’t bother to change (no dressing rooms, so it would have been messing about behind a towel). Sitting on our beach towels to prevent the car seats from getting wet, things were working out just fine. Or that’s what I thought. After a few hours my black dress had white marks all over from the salt water drying out. Never had that problem before, so I’m wondering if that beach had saltier water. Which can’t be true, since this is an island so it’s all the same sea. But still.

After our swim we drove an unknown little road up to the spooky resort near Santa Martha Bay. It did trigger our fantasy and I liked that a lot. But we were home I checked internet and the facts aren’t too funny. The resort went broke in 2009 and only a few months later it was robbed of everything that was more or less detachable. So sad. It really looked like it had been deserted for decades. And it’s one of the most beautiful spots on the island, so I hope someone will invest in it and restore it to it’s former beauty.

We tried to find some more beautiful little roads and found some. We still didn’t find the one near the coast that we'd been looking for before. It should end somewhere near the airport, so we drove to Hato to see if we could find it there. We didn’t, but we had a little “when in Rome” moment which is always fun. There were lots of cars parked down the road and people standing there to watch the KLM airplane (the biggest plane landing here – a 747) leave. So we got out too and watch it go off, back to Amsterdam. And realized we had only two weeks left here and then we would be on it. And then realized most people only come here for two weeks, so we still have a lot of time. Sort of.

* I was completely wrong, tourism here started a lot later

Saturday night, from the Riffort.
Unrelated to the story above, but I love the pastel skies and the full moon in this picture.

Santa Martha Bay

Santa Martha Bay

Leaving. Without us. For now.

Sleepy

“No, no, I’m awake”, I ensured Theo when he asked if I was sleeping. But a few minutes later I realized time did pass really fast. I remembered seeing on my phone that it was almost three and now I overheard people saying it was half past five. So maybe I did doze off a little while. Or maybe longer. Not very smart. Although we started out in the shadow, I was in the sun now. Luckily my skin has gotten used to the sun after five weeks. It just got a bit darker.

No adventures this weekend. We spent Sunday lying on the beach. The only thing mentionable that happened was that one of the ships passing turned out to be a submarine. But it didn’t do anything spectaculair. Which is a shame, cause I would have loved to see it diving or coming up.

Saturday we did a bit of driving around. I found an house in a real estate magazine that was quite affordable. As in really, really affordable. And though we’re nowhere close to actually buying something here, we were curious to see where this house would be and how it would look. In Holland real estate is listed with the full address, but here it isn’t. There was just a neighborhood. And since we don’t really know how to determine where one neighborhood ends and the other one begins, we weren’t sure which streets to look at. We just started where the name of the neighborhood was on the map and circled around from there. We saw lots of nice houses, but never found the one.


There were nice, well maintained houses and old, neglected houses. Those houses we renovated in our minds. We always do that. Can't help it. We do think renovating houses  will be a lot easier here than at home. No rotting foundations and you could easily do without a roof for a while. To be honest, I don’t really care about those things. I think about the important stuff, like what color to paint the walls (inside and out), porch furniture and planting palm trees (at least two, since we have to hang a hammock) in the garden.

I insisted we made a detour to visit another house that I knew was for sale for even less. It was listed with a street name, so it was easier to find. I reminded myself that it already was for sale in October (I saw it listed back then too) and there was hardly any land (for Curaçao standards). Also it had a “seperate bathroom” which sounded like it had an outhouse and I wasn’t sure it even was connected to the sewer system. But still.

Despite knowing this, I pictured something that others just couldn’t see the possibilities off. But we would. A cute authentic little cottage, on a nice little spot outside of town. A cozy porch in the front and a cute little garden that would fit those two palm trees. Something like that.

But this little house was a little bit too authentic and it was on an authentic street, in the middle of the city. Our car just fit through it. There was no porch. From the front door you just jumped into traffic. That wasn’t going fast, since it just can’t. Since this part of the city is on a hill, the back of the house faced a mud wall. I couldn’t see the separate bathroom, but that would have fitted behind the house. My palm trees didn’t.

The listing said it was a “well maintained wooden structure”, but I think it has been for sale for a long time. The paint fell off when you just looked at it. It was the best maintained house in the street, but that didn’t really help. The price was that of a secondhand caravan, but that didn’t make up for the fact that in this house we missed the most important part of living here: being outside almost all day. I couldn’t even dream up a way to make it better. Although…maybe if you’d buy and tear down the awful looking structure beside it… no, not even then.

After all that driving around, looking, thinking and renovating we were really tired. That’s why I wanted to go to the beach on Sunday. Nothing else. Just lie down. And I guess that’s why, for just a little while, I may have been asleep...

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An angel in disguise

“We’ll meet again in heaven.” The man nodded knowingly and we couldn’t do anything else but agree. This was not the moment to discuss believes.
Mentioning heaven seemed fitting too. He was an angel of sorts to us. Not the biblical type, but the kind of people that seem to appear out of nowhere to help you.

It really wasn’t the plan to go and see the Gran Marcha. I said it before, we both don’t really like waiting and holding places and stuff like that. But we were trying to reach the West and when we run into road blocks along the Carnaval route for the fifth time we decided it was time to give up. “If you can’t beat them, join them.” So we were waiting and trying to hold our place at the front.

“You have to drink lots of water”, a girl handing out gum advised us after begging my husband for a cigaret (she got one, smokers have some special social rules, I guess). We knew.
Luckily there was a booth selling water, since we didn’t come prepared. It wasn’t the lack of water that made me feel sick after a while. I get that when I haven’t eaten much and have to stand and wait for a long time. And of course the heat and the burning sun didn’t really help. But I refused to give up, so I drank some more water and chewed some gum.

It helped a bit and I enjoyed the beautiful wagons and the colorful costumes. I didn’t enjoy the loud music. Don’t think I’m overreacting. They had about fifteen big speakers stacked at the back of a truck. Blasting at full strength. That’s a lot of decibels. And each group had an installation like that. That made thirty of them.
But after the tenth we left that nice spot in front.
I was having cold sweats for a while now and when I felt a chill creeping up my legs and spine I knew I had to leave before it reached my head. Or else I would be the next stupid tourist fainting. Local people don’t stand in the sun for carnaval (or anything else). They hire booths to sit in, or they bring chairs and a parasols. I knew that, but even if we had prepared to watch the carnaval I wouldn't have had chairs or parasols to bring.

I sat down at the first shadowed spot we found. I could smell it wasn’t the cleanest of spots, but I didn’t care. Sitting down, in the shadow, was the only thing I could think about. I didn’t have a clue how to reach the car, since we had to walk quite far for it, up a rather steep hill. Theo told me later that he had been thinking about trying to get me to the last road block, leaving me there and go alone to get the car.

But then he came. Our angel in disguise. Our savior. He was a bit drunk, but still. He asked if we wanted to see the carnaval. In the shadow, on a chair. I couldn’t care less about the carnaval, but the rest… yes, please! So we went with him, just a little bit down the road. He gave me a chair and got another one for Theo. He pointed out we could still see the carnaval if we looked past the people in the booth in front of us. Then he gave Theo a cold beer and I drank the rest of our water.

When he saw I was still trembling he got up again and got us “sopi iguana”. Lizard soup. Yes. Something you really got to try sometime, but preferably not when you’re feeling dizzy and sick. But I reminded myself that I hadn’t eaten for five hours and just tried not to look at the piece of lizard (clearly visible and still wrapped in it’s skin) floating in my cup. Much to my surprise it wasn’t too bad. Actually, I liked it. It was “hopi bon” as I tried to explain to the man when I didn’t want a second cup. I really had enough, but he thought I preferred a different soup. I didn't.

In that wobbly little chair, resting in the shadow I was able to watch the rest of the carnaval and enjoyed it very much. Our benefactor kept offering husband and me cold beers. We mostly refused and than he drank them himself. He told us a lot about himself and asked about us. Then he forgot most of that and told and asked again. Which wasn’t really a problem because we couldn’t understand half of what he was saying and I think he understood even less of what we said. But he was nice and caring and helpful and he said goodbye to us as if we were old friends.

I do hope though that we see him again earlier than that. Cause that would mean he made it home safely despite all those beers that we didn’t drink…