Posts Tagged ‘Curacao’

Curacao: Land of Many Faces

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

While Immigration did their best to ensure we never wanted to return to these shores, other residents in the country hadn’t yet received the memo. The natives were pleasant and willing to help, ensuring our visit was as enjoyable as possible.  The market is

Strolling the Willmested Market

Strolling the Willamsted Market

beautiful and full of goodies, general services were a plus and transportation via the public system was quite manageable.

In between days of struggling with Ma Nature and her relentless onslaught of liquid

Sunshine escaping  from the heavens we were able to garner a couple of trips to the grocery store, marine stores, the market,  and the tourist mecca. In the am we dropped off the laundry, and hit the International Clinic. IB and Becca needed to score some Yellow Fever shots for traveling to Columbia and W/ had decided that her ear wasn’t healing fast enough (from diving in Bonaire) so she too wished to consult with the Dr. There we paid $15 US for the doctors visit / consultation and a recommendation to see an ENT.  He indicated that one ear was (sorry) full of wax and the other had some blood behind the ear drum but the drum itself wasn’t damaged.  During lunch I started calling the ENT and we ended up with a scheduled visit in the afternoon. There the Doc removed copious amounts of wax from her right ear, looked at and showed us the problem with her left ear and prescribed some spray to open up the ear canal passages. This would then let the body heal itself. She had instructions not to dive and to avoid flying (no problem on her part). She could however swim and snorkel (only on the surface) all she wanted. Cost for the ENT $85 US.

Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad, Curacao

The historic town of Willemstad was dotted with colors right off a Paint by Number picture. The buildings on the waterfront looked as if Disney had put together a new waterfront set for an upcoming picture. To cross the waterway people had two options: a people moving bridge and when ship or boat traffic caused the bridge to open then ferries took up the slack.

Moving Footbridge

Moving Footbridge

While we’ve been cruising I’ve quite often been amazed at the limited rules and regulations other countries seem to have.  When the bridge opened there were gates that fell; but no guards, and  no long obnoxiously loud sirens. People jumped on and off the bridge while it was opening and closing. I guess they actually figured that people could make their own decisions on what they could or couldn’t do.

IB and I made a leap of all about 1 meter to get on the moving bridge and then once upon it we marveled that here we could actually leap onto the bridge and not receive a lecture from a petty bureaucrat.  We strolled across the foot bridge as it moved aside for a ship to pass. On the other side we had to jump down off the bridge as it no longer matched up with the exit / entrance ramp. No big deal here.

There we connected with our women and had a meal on the second floor overlooking the town front. The food wasn’t exceptional here but just good. We strolled along the water front and made our way back to the rental car we shared with IB and Becca. Then hit some of the grocery stores to stock up on what we’ve depleted during our wet stay here.

Um Um Good

Um Um Good.

When we went to the grocery store I asked about my sunglasses. Approximately 3 days ago we had taken the complimentary taxi to the grocery and exiting the van I left my sunglasses. All thought they had now been lost but I figured i would ask anyway. I found one of the store managers and asked him. There I was pointed to an office and they asked which van we were in. Next, the office staff asked the driver  I was taken out to the van. He opened the glove compartment and removed my glasses. After copiously thanking him I passed him some money for evening libations. Walking back into the store I had a smile on my face. No need to pay for some outrageously priced sunglasses yet.

The following day IB and I drove into Immigration early to complete the formal clearing out. We arrived back at the boats and pulled our anchor from the bottoms, and slowly motored out of Spanse Waters.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long


Curacao: Immigration Two Thumbs Down

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Now understand Curacao is a unique country in that they have an active  hide from the hurricane boating community, a big tourist destination and a shipping industry. Yet in this country they have some of the weirdest laws and regulations I’ve found.

Instead of the usual Customs and Immigration they also have a Harbor Master. When we anchored in Spanse Waters we had to pay the Harbor Master 10 US and inform them which of 4 anchorages (in the same bay) we were in. To move to another anchorage would cost; you guessed it, another 10 US. The other anchorage may only be a 100 meters away but still, we were to pay.

We had been looking for a weather window to head to Aruba. It’s a longish trip to hand steer (we still don’t have the wind vane working) and we wanted to make a daylight crossing. The only written guide of the area suggests to head to the N End of Curacao and then in the am make the crossing. Otherwise the crossing would have to be an overnight. 🙁 Yuk.

We went to Customs and informed them of our desire and they gave us exit papers for two days from Monday making that Wednesday. Next we (IB and I) went to Immigration. One down two to go. We asked Immigration the same thing!  What! They were appalled. You must leave (MUST) within 24 hours of clearing out!  Ok, then we’ll clear out and we’ll leave this evening to Aruba. “No!” They said. Why not; you said we must leave within 24 hours so we’ll go tonight. “I don’t believe you.”  They said. We couldn’t believe this.  IB said that there must be a school of rude for immigration officers!  We were being detained in the country. Not for any wrong doing; simply, because the immigration officer “didn’t believe we would leave. So they made us stay. It was so frustrating that it was almost funny. Most countries would say “Leave!”  Not Curacao.  So,  frustrated we headed up to the Harbor Masters Office, since we had to stay anther day we would now go back to our original plans and stop in Marti.  Tomorrow we would then return as early as possible to Immigration and get our exit stamps. Damn Immigration!

At the Harbor Masters Office they wanted a copy of our Immigration papers. Now what’s funny is that had we actually been able to check out we may not have been able to get an anchoring permit for where we were going to go!  With the new anchoring permit in hand we set out to meet the girls and tell them what happened, have lunch and then do a couple of errands on the way to Spanse Harbor.

As it turned out; we were most likely one of the few if not only legal cruisers to go into this bay. We needed Immigration forms to get the Harbor Masters Anchoring Permit. Yet if we had checked out with Immigration we most likely couldn’t have gotten an anchoring permit.  What a conundrum.

Santa Marta, Curaco

Santa Marta, Curacao

Marti was a beautiful bay. We anchored in close to 3 meters in calm waters. There was once a thriving timeshare resort (Sunset Waters) there that had closed down 3 months prior. To me it looked like it had

No Tennis; Damn!

No Tennis; Damn!

been closed 3 years. Every window was broken, Slot Machines were laying about in ruins, tile had been removed some from bar tops and floors.  It would take more money to fix it back up than to bulldoze it and start anew. For W/ and I the non existent resort was a disappointment. They had a tennis court!

Sweet Water No More

Sweet Water No More

No net but I’m guessing that a few months prior we might have been able to play on it. The restaurant was rumored to have good food.

I find it odd, here is a good harbor and with the governments support (basically by  not making it so difficult  for cruisers to go and hang out there) they could have a viable economic community around the harbor. Why the government doesn’t support this area is any one’s guess.