A Prickly Hike Around Rif Sint Marie
Armed with only a vague notion of the hike we were supposed to be embarking upon, we set off into the cactus fields and brambles near Playa Port Mari. Online, it had been described as a “History Trail,” and the printout we grabbed at the dive shop called it a “Bird Trail.” But we shortly discovered there wasn’t much of a “trail” of any sort. Let’s just say, a machete would have come in handy.
We had been lounging on a lot of beaches, and felt compelled to do something more active. Since this was called the “History Trail,” it was especially appealing; we could take care of both exercise and culture in one easy excursion… and then head back to the beach.
However, this hike wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped. There are no markers of any sort, and we got off on the wrong foot immediately, walking straight past the trailhead. We eventually found the path near the ruins of the old Rif Sint Marie landhuis. This plantation had been in the salt business, but its house burnt to the ground long ago. What’s left is already starting to be reclaimed by nature.
This thorny branch has good taste! It swiped Jürgen’s hat as we walked by.
We continued to the east, scraping past thorny bushes and stepping nimbly around cacti that had fallen into the path, until reaching a small pond. With our focus fully upon dodging thorns, we had approached the pond without talking, and managed to surprise two wild boar who were bathing. Fish, yes; turtles, perhaps; but I hadn’t expected to encounter wild boar while in Curaçao. They sprinted off quickly as we came into view, so we didn’t get a picture.
Our trail now led around to a tall, wobbly bird-watching tower. We didn’t have binoculars for bird-spotting, but did see a few parakeets flapping around. And from above, we were better able to appreciate the density of the brush we had just fought through.
This area is criss-crossed with various trails, and none of them are marked. So while heading back to the south, we ended up on the wrong path. The mistake was annoying, but it did allow us to stumble upon a pack of Crested Caracaras chilling in a tree. Most of them flew away as we approached, but one stayed behind, possibly to monitor our intentions, possibly just lazy.
Overall, this was a decent hike, although beset with frustrations when the path wasn’t clear or when it was blocked with thorny shrubs. I can’t imagine there’s any way you’d come out of it without at least a few decent scratches, so it’s hard to recommend, especially with the abundance of much better hikes on the island. But still, it was fun to see a different side of Curaçao… and we enjoyed our subsequent trip to the beach even more than usual, because we really felt as though we had earned it.
Trail Map on WikiLoc.com (You should be able to spot where we went off-trail!)