Friday, February 26, 2010

Photo(s) of the Day February 24th

Welcome to Curacao!
The colours of the floating market in Willemstad, where we picked up spices and fresh fruit
Inside the amazing Hato Caves
The architecture and colour of the Willemstad waterfront
After enjoying a much-needed sleep in (did you see all the stuff we did yesterday?!) we did a bit of research about the one stop we promised ourselves to make in Curacao, the Hato Caves. We chose not to book an excursion to the caves through the cruise line because all of them combined several different stops that we didn’t think Sophie would have the patience for (old churches, fascinating rock formations, plantation homes, etc.) So the plan was to grab either public transportation or a cab to get to the caves, but we didn’t count on several things: 1) the oppressive heat, which we knew right off the bat would be a bad thing for Sophie, especially if waiting for a while at open-air bus stops was involved) 2) how long public transportation actually takes to get to the cave area (1 hr) and 3) how very expensive cabs are in Curacao ($25 one way to get there). So after some humming and hawing over the situation we decided to bite the bullet and pay for the cab, knowing that Sophie would be such a mess by the time we arrived at the caves on the public bus that we probably wouldn’t get her through a tour anyway. When we arrived at the caves we had about 10 minutes before the next tour left, so we were able to look around the site a bit on our own before meeting the rest of the tour group – the area is beautiful, overlooking an airport landing strip and the ocean, covered in cactus and amazingly formed rocks. Inside the caves the humidity is over 90%, so we were sweating buckets throughout the tour – but it was worth it. It was almost hard to believe that the caves were real – they were so beautifully formed and amazingly textured, with an underground lake and a beautiful cavern called “the cathedral” with a hole in the ceiling streaming light into the cavern below. And then there was one of the main things that attracted us to the caves in the first place: the bat cavern. Sophie’s quite focussed on bats lately – she and both Rhys and Rowan pretend to be bats all the time around the house, so we thought that seeing real fruit bats in their natural environment would be exciting for her. She liked the whole thing, with the exception of the little rocks that kept getting into her shoes – she was even able to handle the oppressive heat well. After the tour (and the $25 cab ride back to the pier) we dropped Sophie off at the Adventure Ocean kids club so Chris and I could wander around Willemstad for a bit revisiting some of the places that Chris remembered from when he visited the island as a teenager. His dad worked on the island for several years, so both he and Mary as well as their younger brother Paul visited Curacao in the past – in fact its appearance on the ports-of-call list was one of the reasons we chose the cruise we did. So while Sophie played we wandered the streets looking at the Dutch Colonial architecture, admiring the brightly coloured houses and shops, and people watching. We enjoyed a drink on an outdoor patio while listening to steel drum music, and returned to the ship happy and relaxed for dinner and a relatively early bed time. A lovely stop, and having spent the day in Curacao I’m sure it’s a place we’d like to revisit.

Other vacation notes for today:

As we were leaving the ship for the second time today, we saw an interesting sight: many men with large shipping crates and luggage racks headed up the gang plank, accompanied by a rather mature petite woman with big blond hair and a real shimmy in her walk. Charo has just arrived on our ship. What the heck?!?!?

Regarding the constant number of attractions, parties and parades happening on board the ship: Chris took a walk this evening while I was drifting off to dreamland, and came across the “Seventies Dancing in the Street Party”... a festival of music and dancing on the Royal Promenade that featured not only a some wild music and costumes but also a performance by cruise staff dressed as the Village people. Boy, my living room is going to seem mighty tame after this week...

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