Curacao has remained a mixed bag for us as we continue to oscillate on our opinion, based on a spectrum of experiences, both good and bad. It was here in Curacao, though, that Elaine got to realise a lifelong dream and fulfil her #1 Bucket List item – To swim with dolphins. In fact, she got to surpass this dream, as she didn’t swim with dolphins, she actually got to dive with them in their natural habitat. For her, it was indeed the most wonderful, magical experience which will forever hold a special place in her heart and one that definitely outweighs the negative aspects of our experience here. Specifically the Spanish Water anchorage, that has left us with the distinct impression that cruisers are no longer welcome here. Couple this with locals, with the exception of a few, who have been extremely unfriendly and, at times, downright rude, where one lady in particular, completely embarrassed and humiliated Elaine. We would go as far as to say that many have a “major chip on their shoulders”, which is unfortunate.
What has made the anchorage in Spanish Waters very unpleasant, besides the bizarre demarcation system, where cruising yachts have to anchor within a set boundary, are the endless speed boats that race, not only up and down the fairways, but straight through the anchorage field, sending every boat into a violent rock. Add to this, the numerous small sailing yachts and wind-surfers hurtling through the anchorage field at a rate of knots because of the strong winds, and, at times colliding with the cursing yachts. Not only is the anchorage unpleasant, but it is extremely unsafe and certainly does not serve the purpose of having us all corralled into one area - supposedly for our safety. The remote location doesn’t help either. It is miles from the capital, Willemstad, with no facilities for cruisers within a dinghy ride or short walk. This is fortunately negated by a reasonably inexpensive local bus service that can take you to town, as well as a grocery bus that runs every day to one of the local supermarkets and within walking distance of a laundry and various chandleries. Other services like obtaining propane gas or provisioning at the larger, less expensive grocery stores, however, requires a car. Access to the internet is non-existent, without visiting one of two local restaurants or purchasing a rather expensive data plan from one of the local providers. Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the water and the howling wind that funnels through the anchorage. The latter is relentless and, at times, reaches speeds in excess of 48 Knots and the former is not ventured into at all, except for the sole purpose of having to clean your yacht, dinghy, chain and bridle. Some brave cruisers do, however, dare to take a daily plunge in order to bathe. It is, therefore, not surprising that, although this used to be a bustling hurricane holdout for many cruisers waiting to transit the Panama Canal or who headed south to avoid the hurricanes, as we did, now choose to by-pass Curacao.
Since our time in Bonaire has come to a close, we discussed what the content of this article should be and decided that providing you with a sense of our experience in Bonaire would be the best way to capture the essence of this most unusual little island in the Caribbean Sea, one we thoroughly enjoyed in every which way. From the magnificent sunsets, where you felt like you were in the middle of a kaleidoscope, to the feeling that we lived (floated) on top of a massive fish tank for nearly 3 months. Where the fish were there to greet us as soon as we popped our faces under the water, whether to snorkel or dive, to the wonderful, welcoming, kind people we met. In particular, the owner of Café de Paris and Zazu Bar, who offered us his bicycle and car to get around the island as well as access to his wifi to make phone calls home to family and friends. Who set up a TV especially for us to watch the 2014 Soccer World Cup and who always welcomed us as family (3 kisses vs. 2 on the cheek). Also, his staff, Julian, Diani and Claudia who always had a welcoming smile and ensured we never went thirsty or hungry during the many Happy Hours and Rum and Burger nights spent with them.