Saturday, January 28, 2012

More Curacao

Hello all,
I looked at the date today,  and realized it's still January.  With apologies to my cold friends and relatives,  this seems absurd to me.  Weather here seems to be in the 80's,  and it's always partly cloudy,  except when a big wet cloud moves through,  then it rains,  really hard,  but only for about 15 minutes.  The cloud moves on,  the sun comes out,  and the roads dry up pretty quickly.  During those 15 minutes everyone jumps under shop awnings,  or into cafes.  The outdoor cafe owners all run around,  tip chairs up,  hide couch cushions,  and make sure the umbrellas aren't blowing away.  (which,  they aren't.  They've got the umbrella thing figured out here.  Good umbrella engineering around this place)  So yeah.  January?  Feels like July to me,  and I suspect it more or less permanently feels like July here.  Curacao isn't even in the normal path of hurricanes,  so it's summer,  always. 

Today I spent more time exploring Willemstad.  As I mentioned yesterday,  the city is split in two,  half on the north side,  half on the south side.  My hotel is on the south side,  so I ventured over to the north side,  and promptly got lost in a series of slightly sketchy alleys,  all of which I thought would lead me back to the main road,  but mostly which kept leading me into increasingly smaller and more sketchy alleys.  Nothing bad happened,  I found my way back,  no problem,  but I was reminded of the advice that many people gave me before I left,  which was,  "trust your instincts."  My instincts said, "no"  as I turned down the first alley,  but I ignored them,  and kept going.  Again,  nothing bad happened,  but it's a valuable lesson,  as I will be soon traveling to places not quite as touristy or safe as this Carribean island.

Today was also a shopping day.  I had an adventure that took me through several tiny electronics stores trying to find first an unlocked quad band cell phone,  then a SIM chip for it,  and finally,  minutes for the SIM chip.  I now am a proud new owner of a little Samsung flip phone,  I have no idea what I'll use it for after I get back to Seattle,  but it will come in very handy once I get to Brazil,  I expect.

Ok,  ok,  a shopping story,  kind of boring,  and really not the big adventure of the day.

Today actually didn't have any big adventures,  just some nice small ones.  Pretty much exactly what I needed,  I've still been trying to get the hang of this travel thing,  and today helped a lot with that.  The most important thing to remember is to eat food when I start to get hungry.  The hungrier you get in a foreign country,  the harder it is to think clearly about where to find food.  Also!  I have discovered,  I think,  a cultural difference where the US does things differently than the rest of the world.  The last time I discovered one of these,  it was the realization that other countries don't have smaller cars,  the US has abnormally large cars.  That was a good one,  I thought.  Today I figured out that other countries don't eat slowly,  the US dines quickly.  Ever meal I've had so far while traveling has taken a sweet long time to arrive.  Mostly I don't care,  I have nothing else to do,  but when I'm hungry,  I'm hungry,  and this morning I nearly fell asleep waiting for my breakfast to arrive.  When it did,  I wolfed it down very quickly...except for the classically served Dutch coffee,  which demanded sugar and condensed milk and two small windmill cookies.  That coffee required that I sip it and enjoy it,  so I did.  Eating when I'm supposed to,  and taking into account longer serving times has made things much more enjoyable.

Speaking of the Dutch,  pretty much everyone here is.  People born in Curacao get Dutch passports,  and the country,  according to wikipedia,  is "a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands."  It's also Carribean,  for sure,  and I got some photos today of some of the run down buildings outside of the city center.  It has become a fun game for me to try to pick out who might be the Americans when I'm walking down the street.  I've been very sure a couple of times,  only to walk past them,  and hear them speaking Dutch.  In fact,  I've been wrong every time.  But that's okay, at least one person was wrong about me as well.  When I was walking back to my hotel last night,  I was propositioned by a guy in a car who offered to give me a ride around.  After I declined and walked away,  it occurred to me that during the course of our conversation,  he had said,  "Are you Dutch?"  and I replied,  "No."  That may be the only time I've ever answered that question that way. 

One last story,  then some photos.  Curacao is no where near as sketchy as I've described it here today.  I had two minor experiences,  but otherwise,  it has continued to be very good,  and better now that I'm eating properly. :)  Tonight the restaurant that I've been going to closed early,  the chef's father fell off a cliff and hasn't been found.  I'll try to find out on Monday what happened.

Okay!  Photos.

One last thought.  I'm taking a lot of photos and thoroughly enjoying it, but boy oh boy,  is this going to require many hours of editing after I get back to Seattle. 

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