CURACAO

Curacao was our last stop on this trip.  The three islands are just 40 miles apart, so we took small puddle jumper planes to move between the three islands.  I can’t remember which flight it was, so I’ll tell the story here.

Each flight is about 20 minutes and holds no more than 18 passengers.  The staff sprays each person’s hands with an alcohol mix as they board the aircraft and masks are expected to be worn the entire time.  There is no air conditioning, no cabin pressurizing, and no air flow.  It is hot, muggy, and crowded.  I sat in the back row each time (it was closest to the door) so I was able to see the propellors start up and shut down.  I was also able to see the boarding door close with visable gaps on all sides.  Divi Divi was a fine airline and I felt safe, but what a unique experience.

One of the most interesting happenings on the three or so flights we had with them was the prisoner.  Yes, you read that correctly.  We had – all 18 of us – boarded a bus that chartered us from the airport to the aircraft for boarding.  But before the driver would let us off, he told us to wait.  Two men on the bus got off, walked towards a black van waiting by the aircraft, and assisted a man in handcuffs onto the plane.  Well, that’s interesting.  

The three of them sat in the front row; Julie and Natalie sat behind them.  In small propellor planes such as this one, and in other countries less like the US, there are no cabin doors.  We could see and hear the pilots the entire time.  On this particular flight, just as we had gotten onto the runway and the pilots were about to hit the gas, they both turned around, took off their headsets, and mouthed something very sternly to the prisoner.

Obviously, I’m alive to tell the story, but wow.  If that doesn’t put you on edge…

We don’t know what crime the man had committed or if he was even a danger.  I had read afterwards that the three islands share a penitentiary, so it likely he was just being transported.  I never like to assume, so once I was safe on the ground, I reminded myself that I have no idea what his story is.

We finally got to go diving in Curacao!  It was an early morning dive, following a very fun (and late) night of pool partying, so I wasn’t in the bestest of diving conditions.  But I tell you what, jumping into the ocean water and breathing fresh oxygen will do wonders for a hangover.  The nausea disipated immediately and I had the best dive of my life.  The water was the most clear I’ve ever experienced and the wall of coral – literally a wall – went on and on.  I could have gone again the next day if we had time.

Curacao, like Bonaire, has an animal farm also.  Their farm is for ostriches.  We had so much fun with the donkeys that we figured we had to try this one too.  It was not the same.  The birds themselves are dangerous and heavy (up to 400 pounds), so we weren’t able to approach more than one who was still young and growing.  It was also less of a sanctuary and definitely more of a farm.  Whereas the donkeys were gathered from the island and brought to the sanctuary for protection, the ostrichids were brought over from Australia and ultimately harvested for meat.  The place also had a Nigerian alligator that was brought over from Africa and lived alone in a small pool of water.  While all of this was interesting, I am not a supporter of bringing animals out of their natural habitat for the benefit of humans.

We had yet another rental car in Curacao, and on one of our last days, we spent our time driving from beach to beach.  We would snorkel at some – The Turtle Beach is amazing – and take in other views from seaside cliffs.  We went snorkeling off of a boat dock in one location and saw amazing things, much to our surprise given that it was a boat dock!

We also attempted to wind surf again.  This time Tony joined us, and while we were all successful, it was a lot more work!  The currents were stronger, the water was deeper, and the wind was powerful.  I managed to get pretty far before our guide had to rescue me with her dingy, but again, I am so proud of myself for taking the plunge and just doing it. And you better believe I will be wind surfing again!

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