What the people in Curacao do

Curaçao: an island with many faces

Caribbean - the word alone creates images in your head. From long white sandy beaches, lonely bays, azure blue sea water. Curaçao offers all that. When you lie in the shade of a palm tree at Playa Cas Abao or Playa Kenepa Grandi in the west of the island, you hear the gentle sound of the sea, you feel the warming rays of the sun, you think you are in paradise.

But the 444 square meter island, which belongs to the Lesser Antilles and is only about 60 kilometers away from the coast of Venezuela, has much more to offer. Above all, it is the people who make a visit unforgettable.

Around 150,000 from more than 50 different countries live on Curaçao - most of them in the colorful island capital Willemstad. 90 percent of them speak Papiamentu, a Creole language made up of Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch words.

Meet an island celebrity

A true island celebrity is Yubi Kirindongo. The 71-year-old has been working as an artist for 37 years. When Kirindongo is looking for material for his works of art, he is also doing something good for Curaçao. The wiry man collects junk all over the island. Whether bumpers, car tires, wood, iron or rubber - what others carelessly throw away, he turns into art.

He mainly sells his extraordinary works to Europe. Many of the works can also be seen in his gallery with sculpture garden on the large area around his home and studio in Souax, not far from the airport. Even the Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima have already visited him there.

Curaçao's unique flora

There is also a lot to see at Dinah Veeris. In 1981, the now 76-year-old began to deal with medicinal plants. “I learned a lot of what I know from my elders,” reports Veeris. But she also deepened her knowledge outside of her home country - for example by studying natural medicine in the Netherlands and at the California School of Herbal Studies.

Veeris has made it its business to preserve plants that are only found on Curaçao. In her botanical garden Den Paradera (“the place where you feel at home”) in Banda Ariba, east of Willemstad, she grows moringa, medlar, graviola, aloe vera, calabash and much more. In her small factory on the premises, she and her nine employees produce healing tinctures, teas and creams from some of the plants.

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She sells them in a small shop in the garden, in Willemstad and - in keeping with the times - also online. So that her knowledge is not lost, she is now also passing it on to the children of the island. Not only do they come to the garden regularly, Veeris also teaches them in schools.

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The history of the Caribbean island

Rieldo Fos is also committed to passing on knowledge. The 44-year-old regularly guides visitors through the Kas di Pali Maishi Museum. Around a traditional mud house with a thatched roof, you will not only learn how people lived on the island until 1950, but also a lot about the history of the Caribbean island, which was the center for the Caribbean slave trade until the 18th century.

Fos also has a lot of interesting things to say about the slave Tula, who is considered a popular hero because he instigated the island's first slave revolt in August 1795. "Slavery was not ended until 68 years later," says the volunteer museum employee. More than 50 of the so-called Landhuizen, magnificent mansions of the Dutch large landowners, are still reminiscent of the colonial times on the island.

Why are the houses on Curaçao so colorful?

There are many legends about why many of the houses on Curaçao were once painted in such bright colors. One says that at the beginning of the 19th century Governor Albert Kikkert ordered the buildings, which were originally painted white, to be painted in color.

He is said to have justified his decision with the fact that the white of the houses and the bright sunlight repeatedly caused him migraines. To this day people say on the island that the real reason is supposed to have been a completely different one: Kikkert is said to have been the owner of the only paint factory on Curaçao at the time.

For today's owners of the houses, it is quite an effort to maintain the splendor of color, because the salty sea air repeatedly clogs the facades. A new coat of paint is therefore a fixed date in the annual calendar. Today it is mainly the visitors to the island who benefit from the regulation at the time - because the houses are what make Willemstad in particular so special.

Willemstadt: UNESCO World Heritage Site for 20 years

The island's capital, whose historic city center has been a Unesco World Heritage Site for 20 years, is also worth a visit for other reasons. If you get hungry while strolling through the narrow streets behind the Handelskade in the Punda district, you should make your way to the old market hall Marsche Bieuw.

On the way there, it is worth making a detour to the floating market on Sha Caprileskade, where vendors from Venezuela offer fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. Some of it can also be found in the large pots and pans in the Marsche Bieuw. Inside the hall, visitors take their places at simple long wooden tables.

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Local dishes range from arepa di pampuna (pumpkin pancakes) and banana stoba (plantain soup) to kabritu stoba (braised goat) and grilled fish. They all have one thing in common: They simply taste “dushi” - as the islanders would say. The most widely used Papiamentu word has many meanings. From nice and sweet to delicious.

If after eating you have the feeling that you should work off the calories again quickly, then you have numerous options on Curaçao. How about, for example, a hike to the Christoffelberg or the Shete Boka National Park in the west of the island? Or with a bike tour through the hilly interior?

Or maybe you just want to go back to one of the beaches with their white sand, azure blue water and palm trees. And after all, the island offers quite a few of them.

Curaçao: There & away

getting there

Air Berlin offers direct flights from Düsseldorf to Willemstad. The flight time is about 8 hours. Flights via Amsterdam can be booked with KLM. A rental car is recommended on the island.

climate

Curaçao has year-round temperatures of around 29 to 32 degrees Celsius and a tropical climate. Rain is extremely rare. The hottest months are August and September.

accommodation

There is a large selection of hotels and resorts in different price ranges on the island. Families like to choose the Livingstone Jan Thiel Resort on Jan Thiel Bay with villas and apartments and a pool. In Willemstad, the Renaissance Curaçao Resort with casino and infinity pool and the Avila Beach Hotel with blues bar and its own bay are popular addresses.

Further information is available from the Curaçao Tourist Board.