Colors of Curaçao
Curaçao, long before popping on my radar as an actual place one could visit, had existed in my consciousness as a sweet blue liquor that we used to mix with orange juice in my teenage years and giggle over drinking green cocktails while listening to “Here comes the hotstepper” or whatever 90s dance track was chic at our local disco at the time. When not too long ago the opportunity came up to visit this island in the Caribbean I could right away envision myself swimming in blue oceans surrounded by palm trees and happy people, a friendly waiter handing me a supersweet cocktail just as I get out of the water. And in all objectivity – that’s exactly what happened.
There is some debate over where the name of Curaçao comes from, but in all likeliness it stems from the Portuguese calling it the “ilha de Curaçao” – island of healing, after a group of sailors once came here after months out on the sea where they all caught scurvy but were able to recover on the blue island. It really isn’t hard to sense those healing powers in a place that features year-round temperatures averaging 28°C. The Caribbean flair is unmissable and most of the time I felt on set for a Rihanna music video – people here have invented le swag.
Curaçao’s capitol is Willemstad, a vibrant little town with 115.000 inhabitants that is famous for its colorful houses. The story told for why all houses are painted in different colors goes back to the early 1800’s the Governor-General Albert Kikkert suffered from migraine headaches, supposedly caused by the sun reflecting so heavily on all the white houses. His doctor attested this and a new rule was put into place where all houses had to be painted in a color other tha white. After the Govenor’s death it came out that him and his doctor held shares in a company producing paint.
Until October 2010 Curaçao was part of the Netherlands Antilles (along with Saba, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Aruba) but has since gained status as their own country within the Dutch Kingdom. Needless to say that large parts of the tourism still come from Holland, but more and more people from other European countries and the States are currently discovering the island. Most recently Air Berlin has launched a direct flight route between Düsseldorf and Willemstad which makes an affordable winter escape all too appealing.
The local language is Papiamentu, a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese along with many native American influences. Dutch is the official language that is spoken widely, with many people also being fluent in English and other foreign languages. In recent years more and more focus is on tourism with charming hotels and restaurants popping up on every corner. Compared to other Caribbean islands Curaçao has a reputation for being quite safe, this is probably linked to the fact that the income average of the 150.000 island inhabitants allows for a decent living for most people.
There are a lot of things you can do here which are likely to have you spend a fulfilled and funfilled holiday. Renting a car is essential (don’t worry if you’re not used to driving like myself – traffic is totally easygoing and streets are smooth) because there is so much to explore! You have an entire island waiting to be seen by you so don’t spend all your time laying around in the sun doing nothing (although that really can be fun for a while). Grab a map from a tourist info (from your hotel or at the airport for example) and drive around on the lookout of great viewpoints, beautiful beaches and hidden gems.