and signage at the beach bars, illustrating
fruit and rum concoctions.
Perhaps nothing says Curacao more than
its distinctive blue liqueur that has been
distilled in a copper still that dates from
1886. It’s still in operation at the Landhuis (Landhouse) Chobolobo in Salinja,
15 minutes from Willemstad. It’s a potent
drink, very sweet, 31% alcohol and made
from Valencia oranges from Spain. The or-ange-flavored liqueur comes in five different colors, but the blue is the most famous.
The Landhuis tour is free, but the gift shop
will set you back a few guilders.
Curacao is not world famous for its
beaches, as Andre Rojer, marketing director, North America for the Curacao Tourist
Board, pointed out. Those it does have are
hidden along the calm southwest coast, and
they suited me just fine.
I had lunch at Cas Abao Beach, sitting
on a coral outcropping while gazing at the
cerulean sea, munching on a fish sandwich
accompanied by an Amstel Bright (think
Amstel but made with desalinated water
because Curacao is arid and dry with little
rainfall; the beer tasted great). There were
plenty of tourists doing just what I was.
Most were Dutch and had plenty of kids
Later, I hiked along the cliffs of Sheta
Boka National Park and stood on Boca
Tabla, a dramatic spot where the surf crash-es into the cliff walls.
To get the full picture of Curacao’s seafaring history, I dropped into the Maritime
Museum in Willemstad. It’s got maps from
1666, plotted by the Spanish and Dutch
explorers and lots of old items like rusted
anchors salvaged from shipwrecks and rudimentary compasses.
Mounted very high on one wall was the
porcelain bust of a woman that once graced
By Gay Nagle Myers
The white polka dots painted on the ochre-colored wall in the kitchen of the gallery/studio of Curacaoan artist Nena Sanchez aren’t merely an aesthetic choice.
“The color white confuses flies. In the
old days before air conditioning and even
ceiling fans, flies would congregate in the
kitchen, buzzing and hovering over food
simmering on the stove,” the guide at the
Willemstad gallery explained.
“If the wall above the stove was painted
with white circles, flies would buzz elsewhere. Something about the color white
spooked them,” the guide said.
I spent a lot of time one morning in that
studio, admiring the vibrant splashes of
Caribbean colors and patterns that spilled
onto chairs, tables, bookcases, cooking
utensils, walls and even floors.
They’re my kind of colors. I wish I had
met the artist herself, but she was at her
the prow of a sailing ship.
“It’s been stolen three times by Dutch
sailors and three times returned,” said
guide Margriet Kistemaker.
“This time we put it up very high and secured it quite well to the wall. They won’t
get it again,” she said.
Another step back in time was at the Pla-sa Bieu (Old Market) in Willemstad.
Nothing fancy about that place; it is a
cavernous space, set with long wooden
picnic tables and large pots bubbling over
coals in the kitchen area.
It’s open daily for lunch, and it’s packed
with businessmen, vendors from the Floating Market, tourists, government officials
and locals. A platter of stewed goat, fried
plantains, okra, brown rice and beans,
mashed yams and fish is about $8.
Here’s the thing about Curacao: I had
only scratched the surface of all there was
to see, do, eat, experience.
Curacao has a motto: “We have it all, it is
just a matter of finding what you are look-
How much fun is that?
38 NOVEMBER 2, 2015 WWW.TRAVELWEEKLY.COM
I bought one of her prints, a small, col-
orful depiction of the colonial merchant
houses on the Otrobanda side of Willem-
stad. Legend has it that the architect who
built the Dutch colonial houses long ago in
the style of the narrow houses along Am-
sterdam’s canals initially had them painted
white. However, the combination of the
sun reflecting off the white buildings and
the sparkling waters of the St. Anna Bay
gave the architect a headache.
“Paint the houses in colors,” he was reported to have ordered his workers.
Today, those sherbet-colored buildings
are Willemstad’s most photographed attraction and make Curacao’s capital city
the most recognizable in the Caribbean.
There is nothing monochromatic about
Curacao. Colors are everywhere, from the
fishing boats at the Floating Market and
the fish themselves, glistening in ice-filled
trays, to the vegetables and fruits in vendors’ stalls, murals on the sides of buildings
An island rich
Boca Tabla at Sheta
Boka National Park.
Curacao’s distinctive blue
liqueur is made at the Landhuis
with colorful history