Friday, December 9, 2011
It doesn’t happen often that Mark and I arrive in a place that doesn’t quite feel right. For a whole bunch of factors, aside from the check-in procedures which were at the end of the day just extremely time-consuming, that happened in Curaçao. Unfortunately, we couldn’t just pick up anchor and leave again. We were stuck for two weeks dealing with a few boat related issues. Other cruisers might – and will – have different experiences, but here’s our list of displeasures…
Spanish Waters is a very big lagoon, but cruising boats are only allowed to anchor in four zones, making those very crowded. Not a lot of privacy is had with boats packed together. We usually wash the dishes and ourselves in salt water, but that was impossible here. We’ve never been in water this dirty (looking) and the massive downpours every day, didn’t help. All the rain turned the lagoon into a murky brown mass of water, comparable to Asian rivers in the monsoon season. There is one dinghy dock at the Fisherman’s Marina, which is way too small to house even just a fraction of the cruisers' dinghies. No other conveniences – like there are many in St. Maarten and Grenada – are present in the area. The pay service for internet went down after three days of working properly. Local powerboats rip through the anchorage at high speeds, creating wake and being a real danger to all around.
There are – in my mind – two categories here: the Dutch and the, what I will call, islanders. Both are quite unfriendly, especially the bus drivers and the long term “residents” of Spanish Waters. Of course, I am generalizing here and there are enough friendly people, but the ones we dealt with most, were not. I have to mention the owners of SV Isis (and SV Sol) here, as well as Imke. They act as if they “own” the place, are quite rude and make one feel very unwelcome. We’ve never been to a cruising community where this was so prominent! I won’t go into too many details, but I have to add that I had the courtesy of going over to Isis (the “WiFi gurus”) to introduce myself and our product and all seemed fine – in our face. We heard and noticed differently later. In Spanish Waters there also seems to be a mentality of “Keep what you know to yourself, especially if you can make money with it!”
The Cruiser’s Net
This is a good one… Every cruiser that arrives in Spanish Waters expects a regular cruiser’s net with interaction and information. Well, the net only lasts about ten to fifteen minutes with usually three people speaking: the net controller, the person who “does the weather” and a new cruiser full of anticipation, questions, help needed and items to sell. To which… nothing happens (in public, on the net). We asked for a service twice and tried to sell two things, with no responses. Afterwards, during a happy hour, we did get some things resolved thanks to the friendlier bunch of the anchorage!
Now this sounds weird as well, but it truly looked like all the rude and selfish Germans, Dutch and French all come to Spanish Waters to hang out together! From running boat engines before dawn (most days we woke up and went to sleep with the smell of exhaust fumes) to running generators after 11 pm, from barking dogs to screaming kids, from yelling at each other over the open water to buzzing by within two feet of our boat. The best stories are a German cruiser lifting his dinghy engine up at the dinghy dock and Mark pointing out that this habit will rip somebody else’s dinghy on this crowded dock and the guy responding that he has a different opinion and leaving his sharp propeller pointing up. And, Mark trying to sit down on the last seat of the shopping bus and his neighbor barely letting him sit down.
Curaçao is a country in itself now, and an industrial one at that. It is very busy on the roads and in the capital. There are few road signs, but it is possible to get around and once in the northern part of the island, things are more attractive. Willemstad is a bit overrated, but isn’t all industrious and geared to cruise ship passengers. There are enough things to see to occupy a visitor for a day or two.
Next time, I’ll look at Curaçao in a more positive light and share the good things!