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A continuation from “I Made it to Curacao…”
Color pops in Curaçao
One of those moments was the lesson that, while I can do many things, renting a stick shift car and learning to drive it in a few hours was not one (see video). You must know your strengths and who you are when traveling. In this situation, I acknowledged that my strength was driving an automatic car, which was what Mardo, Yerlin–my roommate while I was at Bed & Bike–and I used as our mode of transport for a few days.

Breakfast at Uno
Since Mardo and I were not staying in the same place, she met me daily at Uno Bistro Lounge, the restaurant inside Bed & Bike where we had breakfast. The food, staff, and ambiance made it an amazing chill spot. After all, where else in Willemstad will you find a spot that allows you to play Jenga, Uno, and other table games while dining; amidst everyone around you laughing because your Jenga pieces tumbled to the table or ground? LOL. I loved it! Honestly, seeing the moments that family and friends shared at Uno was refreshing. It showed how connected and relaxed the residents on the island were.
Mardo and I sitting outside of Uno enjoying our coffee

On our first trip from Uno we went to the center of Willemstad. To be fair Bed & Bike is located in the City, so getting to other city sites was not difficult– most places were walkable. Mardo, Yerlin and I rode bikes on my first full day in Willemstad, through the town to the iconic row of colorful buildings on Punda’s Handelskade. Curaçao is like a box of Crayola, and the houses at Handelskade are the crayons at the front of the box. These buildings are in the UNESCO World Heritage area and they mirror the architecture that you’d see from many of the homes in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam, minus the color. 

Situated in the same neighborhood as the colorful houses on Handelskade is the floating market. Farmers sail from Venezuela to Curaçao to sell their farm-grown fruits and veggies, as well as their freshly caught fish, etc. to locals and tourists. It’s an intriguing sight to observe how their boats sit at the back of the constructed stand, which serves as the market storefront. Definitely Dutch influenced, because you will see similar markets in Amsterdam, ex. the Flower Market. However, what’s more interesting was the fresh array of produce you will be able to buy. I was overjoyed to find coconuts and it was not hard to decide that I would be making a purchase; after all, this was exactly what I needed.

Floating Market

Nonetheless, depending on the route you take, before you travel to the opposite side of Punda’s Handelskade to capture your iconic flicks, pics, or boomerangs with the colorful houses serving as your backdrop, you will most likely have to walk across the Queen Emma Bridge. This was my first time crossing a floating bridge, and unlike most other bridges you may need some motion sickness pills, as you will most certainly feel the waves and movement of the ocean below you. From the moment I stepped onto the bridge, I was convinced that I was about to catch a case of seasickness, which has never happened to me. The bridge opens and closes for ships to pass.  

View of Punda Handelskade Houses
As my week progressed and I fixed my rental car situation, (see video), Mardo was able to show me several places around the island. One of my favorites was Papagayo Beach. The water was crystal clear and the beach was swarming with tourists, many of whom were guest at the beautiful Papagayo Beach Hotel. So if you are looking to escape a crowd, Papagayo Beach is probably not the place for you. Not far from there, Mardo drove Yerlin and I to the “I heart Curaçao” sign, which overlooked the beautiful Caracasbaai Beach, our chill spot for the remainder of that day. 

This is where the locals play. They either bring their own food or eat at one of the two restaurants located on that beach. We took a table at Brisa Do Mar-Pop’s Place. It wasn’t a surprise that the food was delicious. And if you know me, any at all, you would know that it was a certainty that I had to order fish. After all, I was by the ocean. My meal and any meal on this island would be incomplete without Funchi– I only want local things when I travel.  

The restaurant partially sits in the ocean. Therefore instead of cars, I heard the waves roll and watched the sun glare on the blue horizon. ‘Tis the perfect formula to calm an anxious soul. After we had swum, eaten, and sunbathed the day away the perfect end was to watch the sunset at Fort Beekenburg, which is approximately a 5-minute drive from Caracasbaai. 

Since we had a car, we were able to make plans to meet with Karen and Ray in Westpunt. Getting to them was quite a drive, about 2 hours, but it was worth the trip. On my flight to Curaçao Karen had insisted that I visited Westpunt and swore that I’d have the time of my life, so how could I not take her up on that offer.  

L-R (Asshur, Mardo, Karen, Ray)
After meeting up with Karen and Ray, one of the first beaches that we visited on our self labeled “beach hopping tour” was Playa Lagun. This is a free beach, and the number of fish that I saw while snorkeling was impressive. It’s like these fish were attracted to humans. At the following beach on our list, Playa Grandi (aka Playa Piskado), we snorkeled with sea turtles. Where do you swim with turtles? I would say though, I was quite nervous because I didn’t want the turtles to bite my fingers, since there were signs around, cautioning swimmers. We ended our snorkeling adventures at Playa Kalki, which was across the street from Karen and Ray’s apartment. It was at Playa Kalki that I saw an eel while snorkeling and of course I was freaked. That was cause enough for me to end all sea activities that day. Our day in Westpunt ended with Karen and Ray cooking an amazing seafood dinner for Mardo and I. They also invited two beautiful young German ladies who were also visiting (see video).

A table prepared before me…
Getting to Curaçao was a test. Had I not gone, I would not have learned all that I did, see all that I saw, or met many of the people I connected with while on the island. This trip has certainly reaffirmed my conviction that, we must push beyond challenging moments because, at the end of it all, paradise awaits.  

Don’t forget to check out YBT’s most recent podcast episode!!!

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