A Travellerspoint blog

Curacao Day 8: Bitch Out at Blue Bay

We slept in today and woke up to spend a lazy morning watching the boat traffic and eating crackers and Boursin cheese for breakfast. This is one of my favorite snacks and I was surprised and excited to see that Centrum had it for sale. One of the ships in front of the house was The Ocean Mariner. It had been coasting around back and forth, back and forth for days for no apparent reason. It had no course listed on Mike's marine app. We had a little joke going that the Captain was drunk and couldn't figure out where he was going.

The pilot boat was busy doing its thing.
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A few fishing boats were tooling around as well. We compared the eco-factors of two of them while we watched. There were these two guys who just had a little rowboat and they would fish as they drifted along.
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Then there were these two guys who had a motor and actually dropped anchor out on the reef!
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Here comes the biggest environmental impact of all.
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Around late morning, we packed up all of our empty tanks and headed over to Blue Bay for Mike's last dive and to settle our account. I was not even going down that road today, just planning on snorkeling. I wanted to enjoy the day without the diving stress I had endured all trip. We started with pina coladas and lunch at Azzuro, as usual. Afterwards, Mike went deep and I went snorkeling. Blue Bay has a rocky pier that goes out to a point and then horseshoes into a little bay area around the left side of the main beach area. There was a group of guys fishing off the end of this rocky pier on this day. I'm not sure this was even legal but it was sure annoying to try and dodge their casting hooks. Worse than that, apparently the cruise ship we'd seen earlier had dumped off a bunch of people here and they were flailing about in the water and standing on the reef. So frustrating! I'm not sure why people seem to think that knowing how to swim is not a pre-requisite for snorkeling. I had a nice time anyway and saw lots of marine life. This is a good snorkel site when it's not crowded as lots of fish like to hide in these rocks.

Mike took the camera diving.

Peacock flounder.
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Fish inside tube sponge.
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Mike's dive watch at 202 feet.
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Yellowhead wrasse.
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I've never seen anything like this before and cannot figure out what it is. Some kind of eel, maybe?
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After Mike's dive, we met on the beach and I found out that he had gone to 219 feet, by himself, on nitrox. Now I wasn't happy about this but I learned a long time ago this was not a fight I would win. Mike is an ex-commercial diver with LOTS of dive experience and he does what makes him happy and he does it responsibly. It may not seem so to others but the buddy system doesn't work for everyone. Unfortunately, the dive shop did not agree with this philosophy and when we went to pay for our tanks for the week, they were pretty unhappy to learn we had used an odd number of tanks. This made it pretty obvious we hadn't been buddy diving. They were even more upset when Mike opened his mouth and told him about his dive today (I had told him not to). He got an earful about solo diving and deep diving on nitrox. In any event, I don't think we're welcome back at Diveversity at Blue Bay anytime soon.

One divemaster from Austria that did seem to understand Mike's position.
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After that experience we decided to cool down at the bar with a pina colada before heading home to clean up for dinner. It was a long drive across Curacao and into a part of town we'd never been to before. So much so that Mike thought I had screwed up the address and that GPS was wrong. It was not. We were dining at El Gaucho, an Argentinian steakhouse nestled on top of a large hill, which overlooked the city of Willemstad.

View from our table.
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We started with El Gaucho's wonderful salad bar. I ordered the hanger steak and Mike ordered the beef short ribs. Both were outstanding. We had a dinner guest who wandered through while we ate, down below us on the hill. But he was polite and didn't beg.
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After dinner we made the long drive home and hit the bed early.

Posted by deniseandmike 14:21 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

Curacao Day 7: Postcard Willemstad...Day and Night

I woke up about 9a this morning and let Mike sleep in. The housekeeper, Veronica, arrived for our mid-week cleaning. Around noon, when Mike hadn't yet stirred, I woke him up to see what the plan of the day was going to be. His knee was hurting and had kept him up a lot of the night so he was in no shape for any diving. We decided to just have a down day and then explore town later on. I took some pictures of the birdlife around the house.
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Iguanas loved to hang out on the rocky cliffs over the water.
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Several large ships cruised by.
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On the way into town, we stopped at the Centrum grocery store to pick up a few items. I was very excited to find they had Havana Club rum, one of my favorites. It's made in Cuba so of course, you can't buy it in the U.S. We drove into Willemstad and stopped at Anchor Bar in Riff Fort to have a drink on the water. The Fort is located right in the entranceway to the canal that goes through Willemstad, where the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge opens, so we watched the ships go in and out and the seagulls fly by. When a ship enters the canal, the Pilot boat goes out to meet the boat and escorts it in and out.
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We also had postcard views of the bridge and the Willemstad waterfront from our perch at the bar.
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After having a drink at Anchor Bar, we walked across the pontoon bridge to the other side of Willemstad and did a little souvenir shopping. IMG_7918.jpg

We stopped for another drink and to watch the sunset at Iguana Café.
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Finally it was time for our dinner reservation. We walked along the waterway and through the streets to a little place on the water called Perla del Mar.
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Unfortunately, the food was not as good as the view but they sure could make a pretty drink.
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Mike had garlic shrimp with French fries and I had a red snapper fillet with a baked potato.
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After dinner, we strolled around town a little bit on our way back to the bridge.
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The lights on the bridge at night are beautiful. They change colors every few seconds.
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Pictures from the bridge.
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After crossing back over the bridge, we went to the casino for a bit to try our luck again before heading home for the evening.

Posted by deniseandmike 18:56 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

Curacao Day 6: Our Age Catches Up to Us

Since we'd called it an early night the night before, we both woke up fairly early today, around 8:30a. We hung out on the back porch for a couple of hours, just relaxing and watching the boats go by. Mike loves to look them up on a marine traffic site on the computer. The site tells you each boat's flagship, route, etc., which is quite amazing with the current era of terrorism and pirating. After a while, we drove over to Blue Bay to the dive shop to turn in our used tanks and get some new ones and then headed to Porto Marie beach for some diving. Porto Marie is a nice, sandy beach with facilities just a few miles north up the island from our house.
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Before getting in the water, we had some lunch at the beach restaurant. Mike had a ham and cheese tosti and I had a cheeseburger and fries. Then we made the long trek back up the hill to the parking lot in the heat to gear up and drive the car down with all of our gear. I still had problems getting the integrated weights into my BCD and carrying all of it into the water. I never had that much trouble when I used a weight belt. When entering the water, Mike fell and hit his knee on a rock. It didn't keep him from continuing the dive but it would come back to haunt him later. We had already decided to dive separately as I knew I wanted to stay shallow. So Mike set off to the depths and I stayed behind. I didn't see much at all as there was very little in the shallows but turtle grass. Mike went to 172 feet with the camera.
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Ocean Surgeonfish with barrel sponge
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Anemone
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Lionfish
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Trumpetfish
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Afterwards, we went back to the restaurant and had a couple of pina coladas then headed home. Mike fell asleep in the car. I stopped along the way to take some pictures of a beautiful roadside church.
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Mike was done for the night. He fell asleep on the couch while I unloaded the dive gear and got caught up on emails and the travel journal. He woke up a little later and had some Cheetos and Jumex for dinner then promptly went back to sleep. I just had my leftover fettucine alfredo from yesterday's lunch. I watched Gordon Ramsey episodes on TV the rest of the night, read my Kindle, and went to bed.

Posted by deniseandmike 11:02 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

Curacao Day 5: Pizza! Pizza!

Mike woke up early this morning and did a dive off the dock of our house about 7a. He wanted to see if he could catch sight of some big fish on the reef feeding in the early morning but he didn't quite make it early enough. I slept in. I was having none of that getting up early business. Our plan for the day was to drive to Westpunt on the other side of the island to visit Shete Boca park. We had to stop and get gas and mosquito spray on the way. We were having to almost bathe in mosquito spray every day. They were horrible at the house in the late afternoon and evening.

On the way to Westpunt, I pulled the car over so Mike could take a smoke break. We found a disgusting sight. It looked like someone had been burning goats and trash.
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We did find some scenery that was a little better.
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We arrived in Westpunt and began looking for a restaurant called Sol Food. We were headed down the wrong road (which we didn't yet know) and came upon an Austrian family who had gotten their Kia stuck in the flooded road. This area of the island had gotten lots of rain in the previous days and much of the roads were flooded. They were driving a small car and it was pretty obvious to me the car wouldn't have made it through the water. I have no idea what possessed them to try to drive through it. Mike helped push them out of the water but the car still wouldn't start. I flagged down a Dutch couple who had some jumper cables but we still weren't able to get the car started. The Austrian family had to walk back to their hotel. I'm pretty sure their rental car company was not happy to hear about this!

After that debacle, we turned around and finally found Sol Food. By now we were starving and thankful they had a spare table. I had a salad and then we split a pepperoni and mushroom pizza and had some tasty sangria. One of the pizza toppings was pickled garlic. It was fantastic. That was some of the best tasting pizza I've ever had.

The view from our table:
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We met a Dutch couple while there who live on Curacao. They gave us lots of pointers about where to go and what to do on the island. Sunshine, the owner of Sol Food, is an American ex-pat whose been living on the island for several years. She also had some helpful advice. She has two fila brasileiro dogs which is the same unusual breed of dog my parents used to own. These dogs are originally from Brazil and are bred as guard dogs. I've never known anyone else who has had one so it was interesting that Sunshine owned two.
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After the stuck car, the pizza, and the Curacao talk it was much too late to go to Shete Boca park so we just drove back to town and went to the casino for a bit. I actually won $50 on slots instead of losing money while Mike played roulette.

This little guy was hanging out on the back stairs when we got home.
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Posted by deniseandmike 20:42 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

Curacao Day 4: Iguana Nibbles

Mike slept in the next day until about noon. I spent the morning reading and enjoying the quiet view. We decided to drive to the other side of the island and check out a dive site called Playa Lagun. However, I decided that I was going to stick with snorkeling, no diving for me today. It took us about 30-40 minutes to drive to Playa Lagun, a small beach where locals like to hang out and barbecue. Condos, dive shops, and restaurants sit atop the tall cliffs that frame all sides of the bay.

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Before getting in the water, we decided to grab some lunch and a drink at the Bahia Grill overlooking the bay. I had a salmon salad sandwich and Mike had a ham and cheese tosti. During lunch, we were bombarded by iguanas. These guys were obviously fed by the bar because they had no fear of humans at all. As a matter of fact, one of them kept nibbling on my toes! My toenails were painted yellow and I believe he thought they were mangoes.

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After lunch, we went back to the car and Mike suited up in the parking lot. He had a problem with the o-ring on his tank but was able to fix the problem fairly quickly. Then we headed into the water.
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I stayed behind to snorkel while Mike took the camera diving.
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Anemone
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Crab
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Trunkfish
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Brain coral
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Ocean surgeonfish
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Various corals
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Tube sponge
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Blackbar soldierfish
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Blue tang
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Stoplight parrotfish initial phase
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Various types of parrotfish
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The usual reef tire
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Anemone
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Barrel sponge
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Spotted moray eel
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On my snorkel, I started along the left side of the bay and followed it around the corner, outside of the bay, along the rocks. I then came back across the bay to the right side and circled back to the beach. It was a fairly shallow snorkel with lots of fishlife and coral. I saw squid, trumpetfish, an eel, drumfish, and much more. It was the best place I snorkeled in Curacao.

We drove back home and then headed out to dinner to Mundo Bizarro, a colorful, Cuban-style restaurant across the bridge from Willemstad.
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Mike continued his sampling of the island's carpaccio by having the smoked ribeye carpaccio.
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I had a pork tenderloin stuffed with goat cheese and spinach with hand-cut fries.
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Both dishes were outstanding and the atmosphere of the restaurant was relaxing. After dinner, we went back to our house and downloaded all our photos we'd taken so far then called it a night.

Posted by deniseandmike 20:44 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

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