Friends Arrive and Explore Willemstad

We had visitors! Colin and Charlie came to Curaçao from Oakland, a little further than our trip from Bonaire. They would stay with us on the boat for a couple of days, then we would all move into an AirBnB for a few more. Left, we see Andrew and Colin taking a load of luggage to the boat, squeezing between a powerboat and the omnipresent derelict dinghy. (Our dinghy is small, so getting gear and people to and from was often two trips.) Having loaded the luggage, we turned around and came back to shore, because Andrew and Jazz needed our day-three rapid tests, and we all needed to get dinner. This one is at Maira’s, excellent Mediterranean food – and they let us have a table at 5:30 “as long as you’re gone by 8 when the table is reserved.” Reservations seem to be required everywhere, and the staff will enforce them even though cancellations also seem to be rampant.

Back at the boat that evening, we dove into the pile of “presents” our guests had been kind enough to collect and pack-mule to us from the states. We were pretty excited about some of our purchases, but we had absolutely nothing on Captain’s enthusiasm for one of his. He opened this box all by himself, the hard way, in what has to be the most focused fifteen minutes of his little life to date. Video excerpts here.

We took a bit of a lazy morning the next morning, because our friends were on west coast time, and watched a little sailboat race. Colin and Andrew went around the marinas trying to find someone who would rent them a sunfish, but it seems that the one business that used to has closed, and the rest of the boats are members/owners only. Still, it was fun to watch them stream by, and weave through the anchorage on their way to the various waypoints.

That afternoon, we joined Nautilife for a walk over to Jan Thiel, a little resort area. We had a swim, some terrible (but brightly colored) drinks, and embarrassingly low-effort pizza, at Zanzibar, a pretty beach bar with strong party vibes.

A few hundred feet away, we had some better drinks at the quieter Zest. Though for some reason the waiter thought that since they were out of IPA, pilsner would be an acceptable substitute, no questions asked. Shudder. At least it came in a bucket of ice, that was nice. It’s very hot here.

The next day continued the trend of slow mornings, this time because of rainy weather and definitely not still because of the three-hour time difference. We’d planned to go wind surfing, but it plainly wasn’t the day for it. Instead, Andrew and Colin took some time to work through Villa’s collection of two-player board games.

That afternoon we would move into our AirBnB. The view was pretty bleak, and the interior pretty sparse, but they had air conditioning and allowed pets, so we were pretty happy. We even managed to find a break in the rain, so we had a resonably dry transfer. Andrew made dinner, Colin did dishes, and we all played some Tiny Towns and ate candy. This would be our first, and hopefully last, introduction to the concept of double-salt licorice.

The net day’s weather was much better, so after Andrew and Captain made breakfast, that windsurfing thing happened after all. Not many pictures because we were mostly occupied with trying to stand on the boards, stay dry, and move in the right directions.

After a shower, we took a walk around downtown Willemstad. Along the just-wrapping-up farmers’ market…

Past the Ronde markt, and up to the just-closing nautical history museum (capstans not in service).

We headed past some excellent street art (look who’s wearing the crown! Fantastic!), and brightly painted buildings…

to get to the famous floating foot-bridge.

Across the bridge, we headed into the Rif fort, a UNESCO world heritage site doing its best impression of a cruise ship terminus. Up some stairs, we found a ceviche bar with a great view and some nice cocktails. While there, we watched an impressively large cruise ship pull out of port. A nice reminder that they’re coming back, and we’ll have to watch out for them under way in the future. COVID has been weird and hard, but it’s definitely been nice to see all these places without the “usual” crowds.

A bit more sightseeing revealed some more excellent street art.

Special mention goes to this map, which takes artistic license to unprecedented levels. If we were more sophisticated art critics, we might even point out that some of the reorganization seems confused. But we aren’t, so we won’t.

Another special mention to the guy driving around in a modified stretch towncar with five huge dogs.

And, of course, the giant DUSHI sign. On a wall in a nearby alley, an explanation: “Dushi is a common word in Papiamentu. The word has a variety of meanings: calling someone ‘dushi’ means ‘sweetheart’, ‘babe’ or even ‘sexy’. You also use it for tasty food and to describe the good things in life.”

A little outside Punda (the downtown proper), things are a little less polished. Here’s a local public beach, and a hotel that’s apparently fallen into anarchist control.

But, a little outside is also where the good food is. Here’s dinner that night, mostly ribs, at Cafe Tijd. Amazing ribs, but do not order the wine; be content with the terrible local lager, and go anyway because the ribs are that good.

Back to the AirBnB, where we once again re-discovered that Captain will totally sleep in contact with us if it just isn’t so hot all the time.