Curacao is beautiful.
Curacao is Caribbean, an island of hot air breezes and palm trees. It is thin sandy beaches and sheltered coves. It is recliner chairs by the water and drinks with alcohol and fruit delivered by beautiful barefoot creatures.
Curacao is salty sweat, salty water, salty hair, salty skin, salty thoughts and salty dreams.
Curacao is standing next to the sink to drink glass after glass of warmish tapwater that never tasted better. It is never using the shower on anything but pure cold, which still feels too warm.
Curacao is fruit salad breakfast with yoghurt and granola and a cup of tea on the balcony overlooking the sea a lazy stone’s lob away. Maybe 50 meters? It is an avocado sandwich on the same balcony for lunch with Dutch cheese, American pickles, Colombian mayo and mustard on good dark whole grain bread, a tomato if you feel like it, with Pringles and a cup of 100% juice, no sugar added sucka.
It is dinner there too, vegetarian going heavy on the veggies, with mosquitoes indetectable around your feet until the bumps rise, though they are milder here than anywhere else I’ve been (I theorize it’s partially due to the vegetarian fare, no iron here you little bastards).
Curacao is houses both grand colonial and cinderblock mundane, all painted the array of bright colors only dared/celebrated in the Caribbean. It is bright red, yellow, blue, purple, pink, and green. It is turquoise, amethyst, fuchsia, boysenberry, terra cotta, and electric ultramarine.
It is collonades, balconies, and elaborate molding. But it is Caribbean heat and salt, mansions slumping into ruin as even nostalgia grinds to dust. It is paint bubbling off concrete walls in beautifully decrepit patches of time passing before your eyes. It is high speed decay, frozen when you look, but advancing when you blink. It is beauty subjected to brutality. It is colors laughing and dying in a relentless sun.
Curacao is stars by the thousand in clear night air. It is a constant tail of toxic death leeching south over the water from the oil refinery that squats cancerously in the center of the island, a tumor in paradise. It is a calm lagoon of flamingos, and it is those flamingos covered in oil after a human error spill a couple weeks ago. It is sacred ocean stretching to the horizon, where tankers idle like invaders outside the walls, waiting for their turn at plunder.
Curacao is languages, Dutch, Spanish, English, and Papiamentu, itself a creole of all those plus Portuguese, Amerindian, and African languages. Arawak anyone? It is an amazing mixing, blending, sharing of cultures and people. It is Carribean spices on Latin American ingredients using European recipes.
Curacao is apartheid. It is Europeans on beach chairs and locals sweating in the interior. It is shiny BMWs and rusty clunkers rarely parked side by side. It is staggering inequality, where a majority of the jobs for the darker skinned are as security guards for the lighter. It is locked gates, floodlights, and guard dogs. It is windows rolled up, to keep the AC in and the locals out.
Curacao is broken politics, familiar and corrupt. It is an aftertaste of colonial hegemony over a veneer of democracy over a heart of cronyism. It is the possibility of riots, and a cycle of violence.
Curacao is another troubled Eden. It is problems without solutions, and beauty beyond my ability to articulate/photograph. It is connection to the world, and isolation from it. It is new friendships and the absence of old ones.
Curacao is Caribbean, an island of sun, shade, sand, and water. It is the pressure of hot air, and the caress of cool water currents. It is braincoral and waving sea sponge tubes. It is fish far too beautiful to be true, moving in a three dimensional fantasy of ocean life. It is colors that make the buildings look drab. It is ferocious life played out every second on small scales. (It is forgiveness for the pun.)
For one more month, Curacao is home.
What a beautifully written description. I felt like I was there, experiencing both the beauty and the threats to its delicacy. While I fear for such places, I also maintain a certain hopefulness that we will come to our senses…. hopefully soooner rather than later. Thanks again for bringing the far away closer to us all.
Thanks Shirley, making somebody feel like they are where I am is exactly what I hope for. This place is gorgeous, and hopefully has a bright future…but I just had to censor even this blog a bit in the current political problems…there’s an election in a couple weeks, hopefully things will calm down after that, and not the opposite.