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Ayo, Dushi Kòrsou!

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Coming on the heels of one of the most difficult years we’ve ever endured, Jürgen and I had been desperate for a relaxing and stress-free 91 days. With its chilled-out atmosphere, low-adrenaline activities, friendly people, comforting cuisine, and an infectiously fun culture and all packed into one, small, easily manageable island, Curaçao was exactly what we needed. We couldn’t have made a better choice.

It was the beaches that first won our hearts. Soon after arriving, we drove to the northern tip of the island and laid our eyes upon Grote Knip — it was as though someone had plugged a USB cable into my brain, ordered me to concentrate on the phrase “Caribbean Dream Beach,” and had then printed out the mental image. And as our time on Curaçao progressed, we would find plenty of other beaches that were just as good, or even better. In the foreseeable future, when I feel stress setting in, I’ll just close my eyes and repeat the mantra, “Knip. Forti. Daaiboi. Hunku.” Take me back to the Caribbean!

But one can only enjoy so much beach time before one starts to get restless. Luckily, this island offers a number of other activities, including some excellent hikes. Excellent, but never all that strenuous. Loops around Patrick, St. Michielsbaai and Ascension are both beautiful and simple. Even the island’s highest peak, the Christoffelberg, takes no longer than 90 minutes to ascend. Oh Curaçao, even when you’re trying to be hardcore, you just can’t help yourself. Everything on this island is easy!

I mean that: everything is easy! Try to get along with the locals. Guess what? It’s easy. Before the words “Bon dia” have even left your tongue, the person you’re talking with has already greeted you in four different languages, and shook your hand, and slapped you on the back, and asked your name. They’re so friendly, you don’t even have to try.

Oh shoot, it’s raining. Don’t worry, even bad weather in Curaçao is easy. Look again — in the time it’s taken to read this sentence, the rain has already stopped. Wait, look again: now the sun has come out. During our time on the island, we had exactly one day of truly bad weather. That’s 1 out of 91… during winter. And now you start to understand why everyone’s always smiling. They have it good here, and they know it.

Interested in scuba diving? By now, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that scuba diving on Curaçao is easy. All the best sites are accessible from shore, so there’s no need to rent a boat, and you never have to dive very deep. Even easier is the snorkeling. Directorsbaai, Tugboat, the Blue Room, Kalki… with no effort at all, you can see some underwater landscapes that you’ll never forget.

And then there’s the food; easy and familiar dishes like barbecue ribs, meat stews, and fish fried Caribbean-style with herbs and limes. Almost everything we ordered here was delicious, and none of it required any special culinary courage to enjoy. Like we said: easy.

Is Curaçao without problems? Of course not. There’s the Isla Refinery and the stinky veneer of smoke it spreads over half the island. There’s too much crime, and the driving habits of the people border on the outrageous. But these are problems which most countries suffer from. There’s a tendency among tourists to view Curaçao solely as a vacation destination, and to forget that it’s a real country… and then be “shocked” when confronted with something dirty or bad. Yes, there are problems here. Just like everywhere.

For us, we’ll take a place like Curaçao over any destination whose sole focus is on the comfort of tourists. This is an island with its own vibrant culture — just watching the celebrations of Carnival confirms that! I mean, anyone is welcome to watch these parades and parties, with their all-night dancing and drinking, but they’re not meant for the amusement of tourists; Carnival is for the Curaçaoans. And the the island has real history, too, not all of it comfortable. Curaçao was one of the main hubs of the Atlantic slave trade, and much of the current population is descended directly from those who fought, often violently, against the chains which bound them… chains placed by the ancestors of the very tourists who are today so amicably welcomed as guests.

Curaçao is simply an incredible place. It’s small but has tremendous depth, with enough culture and experiences for a country ten times its size, and a heart that is simply bursting with warmth. It’s impossible to spend time among the people of Curaçao without becoming completely enchanted with them.

Like I said earlier, Curaçao was exactly what we needed. It had been a difficult year for us, with serious measures of personal grief and loss, and we had become disenchanted with certain aspects of life. Turns out that, for us, the best antidote to despondency was to dunk ourselves completely in a culture where life is fully enjoyed, where every day is a gift, where the sun is almost always shining, the water is always warm, your neighbor is always smiling, and everything is wonderfully, gloriously easy.

Thanks for picking us back up, Curaçao. We’ll be in your debt for awhile.

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March 5, 2016 at 5:00 pm Comments (6)

Pietermaai Smal

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One of Curaçao’s four historic districts, Pietermaai Smal lays just to the east of Punda, between the Waaigat Harbor and the Caribbean. Once the most exclusive neighborhood on the island, Pietermaai endured a long, painful period of deterioration. But recently, it’s picked itself back up and become a home to the island’s trendiest clubs and restaurants, and its most popular boutique hotels.

Pietermaai Curacao

Willemstad’s initial expansion outside its city walls was west, across the Saint Anna Bay into Otrobanda. But in the 18th century, the capital expanded east as well. Pietermaai Smal was originally constructed as a home for merchants and the officers of the Dutch West Indian Company, and their high status is reflected in the impressive size of the homes. The neighborhood was known for its theaters and restaurants, and soon became the center of the island’s cultural and business life.

But in September of 1877, Pietermaai was devastated by the “Orkan Grandi,” a powerful hurricane which wiped out many of the neighborhood’s houses, and prompted residents to move elsewhere. Many relocated north into the Scharloo District, and the seeds of Pietermaai’s long twilight were planted.

Throughout most of the 20th century, and up until just a few years ago, Pietermaai was overrun with drug dealers who installed themselves inside the neighborhood’s deteriorating houses. But recently, a major effort has been made to clean up Pietermaai and restore it to its former glory.

Pietermaai Curacao

As far as we can tell, that effort has been a rousing success. There are still some destitute houses, but most have already been restored. There’s a burgeoning culinary scene here, with well-regarded cafes and restaurants setting up shop. And Pietermaai is a great place to go out — the 27 Club, Scuba Lodge and San Tropez are just a few of the bars and clubs in which we spent some fun nights.

Pietermaai was once home to the Dutch officers of the West Indian Trading Company, and today the neighborhood is once again dominated by their blue-eyed descendants. Walking around here on a Friday night can be shocking; the huge majority of people are white, and the only language you’ll hear is Dutch. Tourists heavily outnumber long-term residents in Pietermaai; the deteriorated houses were bought up by developers with business interests, and mostly converted into hotels.

Like all of Willemstad’s historic neighborhoods, Pietermaai is nothing if not colorful — every house is painted a different shade. During the day, it’s fun to stroll along the main strip and see the bright greens, reds and yellows of its historic buildings. And at night, the neighborhood is so lively that it can almost seem like one big party. Even if you’re not staying here, Pietermaai shouldn’t be missed; the neighborhood is yet another of this diverse country’s distinctive faces.

Location on our Map

List of Curacao Hotels

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February 12, 2016 at 7:28 pm Comments (0)

The Grand Farewell Parade of Carnival

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I don’t know where these guys get the energy from. Just two days after completing the Grand Parade, an alcohol- and Tumba-fueled procession which lasts over nine hours, they’re back out on the streets dancing and partying for Carnival’s Grand Farewell Parade. I was nearly unable to endure it, myself, and that was as a spectator!

Carnival Farewell Parade Curacao

If you’ve already seen the Grand Parade, the Grand Farewell Parade doesn’t hold a lot of surprises in store. It’s the same route, the same music, and the same groups marching in the same order. The differences are that it’s night, and that most of the participants have embellished their already-extravagant outfits with colorful lights. As the marchers shimmy down the street to beat of the drum, their sequined costumes shimmer underneath the glare of powerful lamps.

The parade begins at 5pm in the neighborhood of Santa Maria, but doesn’t reach Otrobanda until 10:30 at night. We went out to watch the parade at around 11pm. By this point, most of the guys and girls in the parade must have been ready to collapse, and although they did their best to hide it, the energy level wasn’t quite as high as it had been during the first parade. But they’d been marching for about eighteen total hours within two days! The fact that they could even stand was amazing.

Carnival Farewell Parade Curacao

Throughout Carnival, the figure of King Momo has been front and center. A larger-than-life papier-mâché figure, King Momo “presides” over the festivities, allowing his subjects to drink, dance and have a good time. He represents mischievousness and debauchery… but while it’s good to cut loose occasionally, you shouldn’t indulge such desires all of the time. So at the end of the Farewell Parade, King Momo is burnt, and the fireworks which were packed inside his body are sent shooting into the air.

We loved the Carnival celebrations; it’s not every day you get to see such a luminous display of joy. If nothing else, this festival has reminded me how cathartic it is to get wild, every once in awhile. But now that King Momo was dead, it was time to return to life as normal. Thanks for the party, Curaçao! It was fun while it lasted.

Caribbean Carnival Costumes

Carnival Farewell Parade Curacao
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February 11, 2016 at 4:02 pm Comments (0)

Curaçao Carnival’s Grand Parade

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Events related to Curaçao’s Carnival, such as the Tumba and the Horse Parade, had been taking place throughout the months of January and February. And they were all leading up to the Grand Parade: a long procession of music, costumes, drinking and dancing, and a celebration of pure joy.

Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"

The parade gets started at 10am, and doesn’t end until well after the sun has gone down. Luckily, spectators are under no obligation to show up on time. It begins in the northern neighborhood of Santa Maria in the morning hours, but doesn’t reach the heart of Otrobanda until around 5pm. And by then, after seven consecutive hours of partying, the guys and girls marching in the parade are in great spirits.

We showed up on Breedestraat at around 4:30pm, just before the first groups arrived. The harlequin costumes and make-up worn by the participants are wildly colorful, and every group decides upon a different theme: casinos, boats, and India were some of this year’s. Most of the groups march with two big trucks; one to carry the DJ or tumba-playing band, the other to carry liquor.

Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"

Imagine a military procession, with rigid rows and columns of stern-faced men and women marching in perfect synchronization. Carnival’s parade is exactly the opposite of that. There is no order here, no discipline. These crazy harlequins are having the best time imaginable, drinking, shaking their butts, posing for pictures, and running over into the crowd to greet friends. And it’s impossible to watch without being infected by the Carnival fever. Multiple times, I caught myself unconsciously dancing to the Tumba beats … I might have even tried shaking my booty.

We followed the parade all the way to Brionsplein, where we grabbed seats under a statue and had almost as much fun watching the spectators as the parade itself. Carnival is an island-wide party, and we didn’t see an unhappy face the whole evening. Of course, there might be plenty of unhappy faces the next morning, when all of Curaçao wakes up with one massive hangover. But we could worry about that tomorrow… for now, let’s dance!

Caribbean Carnival Costumes

Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
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Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
Grand Carnival Parade "Gran Marcha"
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February 8, 2016 at 8:19 pm Comments (0)

To the Top of Christoffelberg

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Curaçao’s most popular hike, and perhaps its only popular hike, is the trek to the summit of Christoffelberg. At a modest 372 meters above sea level, this is the tallest peak on the island, and reaching the top requires an effort of about 90 minutes.

Christoffelberg Hike

Here on Curaçao, where life is about beaches and relaxation, a 90-minute uphill hike seems more strenuous than it probably is. We’ve raced up much higher mountains in places like Iceland and Idaho without thinking twice, but getting to the top of the Christoffelberg was hard! Maybe it’s the temperature. People are actually prohibited from beginning this hike after 11:30 in the morning, as the midday heat can be unexpectedly dangerous.

Christoffelberg Hike

This was the only hike we completed on Curaçao where we saw other people, and we saw a lot. In fact, we blazed past at least a dozen on the way up Christoffelberg. I’m not claiming that Jürgen and I are fast hikers (we’re actually rather slow, with all the picture-taking) and I don’t want to come off as a “know-it-all.” But honestly, what is with all the flip-flops? Who hikes up a mountain wearing flip-flops?! Maybe it’s the only footwear you brought along on your trip to Curaçao, and that would be totally understandable. But in that case, don’t climb the Christoffelberg! You’re going to be miserable. Just go do something else.

Christoffelberg Hike

Anyway, we passed by the suffering flip-floppers and made it to the top of the mountain in an hour and a half. The ascent is steady, and leads through some lovely forested areas. It only gets really difficult toward the end, where the mountain’s peak becomes rocky and more vertical. The view from the top was as wonderful as we had expected; the entire northern end of the island was visible, and it was fun to find and point all of the places we had visited.

To best enjoy the hike, arrive at the Christoffelpark as early as you can in the morning. The temperature will be better, and there will be fewer other people on the path. You have to pay entrance to get into the park, and then you can drive to the trailhead. The hike itself is uncomplicated, but you do have to be in decent physical condition, and make sure to bring plenty of water.

Locations on our Map – Trailhead | Summit
Our route on Wikiloc
Chrisoffelpark – Website

Cheap Flights To Curacao

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February 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm Comments (0)

The Cliffs at Hanchi Spelonk

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Every once in awhile, Jürgen and I will cross our fingers and embark upon an excursion which we know nothing about. Our trip to Hanchi Spelonk was one such adventure. There’s almost nothing on the internet nor in guidebooks about this little park, but we supposed it was worth a shot… if for no other reason than the excuse to say “Hanchi Spelonk” repeatedly throughout the day. Hanchi Spelonk!

Hanchi Spelonk Hike

We found the entrance to Hanchi Spelonk in the neighborhood of Souax, close to the Hato Airport. After parking our car in front of a tidy-looking house, we were greeted by the curious eyes of a small girl staring at us from behind the fence. Always mindful of Curaçao’s crime rate, we had been a little worried about leaving the car, but the girl seemed as good a guard as we were likely to encounter. Who would rob a car in front of a child?

The entrance to the park didn’t make us feel a lot safer. At the end of a desolate lot, there’s a chain link fence three meters high, plastered with warnings about entering. At your own risk. Danger lurks. Turn away while you can. Get your dumb tourist butt out of here. But the door was open, so we stepped through.

Hanchi Spelonk Hike

This was a desperately quiet park, and I had the feeling that we were the first people who had visited in a long time. Except, of course, for the rapists and muggers who were surely hiding behind every tree. But as we continued along the path, we eventually calmed down, and had soon arrived at Hanchi Spelonk, a set of limestone cliffs which time has worn into strange shapes. Hanchi Spelonk!

By now, we felt safe enough. As Jürgen pointed out, “If we were gonna get raped, it would have already happened.” We explored the cliffs, climbed around on top of the rocks, and followed signs leading to Mirador Berde, from where we gained a view over the airport and the entire park.

And then we heard voices. Instant panic. As silently as possible, we sneaked down from the Mirador, and approached the sound, using the cover of trees whenever possible. There was definitely a man speaking in Papiamento, yes, definitely a mugger. Soon enough, we spotted them: an older couple setting up a picnic in the park.

Sigh… in our defense, there’s a lot of crime in Curaçao and it pays to be safe. But this time, our extreme caution made us feel foolish. Luckily, we were able to back away without them discovering us lurking behind the trees, having unintentionally become the very creeps we were so afraid of.

Hanchi Spelonk is a gorgeous area, and it seems incredible that not more people know about it. It’s not anywhere near as popular as, for example, Hofi Pastor. You could enter from the scary chain-link fence in Souax, like we did, but I’d recommend coming in from the north, where you’ll be closer to the cliffs. If you’re looking for “off-the-beaten-path” Curaçao, you could hardly do better than Hanchi Spelonk. Hanchi Spelonk!

Locations on our map: Souax Entrance | Hato Entrance
Our route on Wikiloc

Best Prices On Car Rentals On Curacao

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February 3, 2016 at 10:19 pm Comments (0)

Mi Ta Siña Papiamento!

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One of Curaçao’s best traits is its delirious language situation. Curaçaoans speak seemingly anything and everything, often all at once. We’ve had people switch from Dutch to Spanish to English on the turn of a dime, as they try and guess our nationality. But the language we most love to hear from Curaçaoans is Papiamento — a creole mix of West African, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, and even some Arwak.

Papiamento is the language of the ABC Islands: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. On Curaçao and Aruba, it has been recognized officially since 2007, but its history is much older than that. This is a creole language which developed in the Caribbean as a way for Africans from various regions to communicate both with each other, and with the Europeans. Today, it has around 300,000 speakers, which places it right alongside Icelandic (another crazy language we have some experience with.)

Learning Papiamento isn’t strictly necessary for a visitor to Curaçao, since almost everyone here speaks English, but I picked up a book and have taught myself some phrases. They love it when you make an effort, and whooping laughter have greeted my halting attempts to say things like “Good day. Where is the store? This is a book. This is a red book.” Of course, as soon as they start testing my knowledge, I can’t keep up. It’s alright; no Curaçaoan would expect a foreigner to really speak Papiamento, but they appreciate even the most token of efforts.

My learning has been helped by two useful aspects of the language. (1) It’s very close to Spanish, and if you don’t know a word, the Spanish is often close enough to suffice. Agua = Awa, Amigo = Amigu, Hombre = Homber. And usually the words which aren’t of Latin derivation come from the Dutch/Germanic: Boek (Book) = Buki, Vork (Fork) = Forki.

(2) There is almost no conjugation. For example, the verb for “to be” is “ta”, and it stays the same regardless of the subject.

I am Mi ta We are Nos ta
You are Bo ta You are Boso ta
He is É ta They are Nan ta

In other words: Dushi Papiamento ta fásil!

Of course, there’s a lot more to any language than first meets the eye, and regardless of its relative simplicity, when Curaçaoan gets going in Papiamento, I don’t understand a word. But it doesn’t bother me at all… disregard my confusion and continue speaking, señor! Because I could listen to Papiamento all day long.

Rent A House On Curacao

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February 1, 2016 at 9:16 pm Comments (0)

Turtle Spotting at Ascencion

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After parking our car at Landhuis Ascencion, we embarked on a hike which would bring us through some wildly diverse nature, including forests, cactus fields, and towering granite outcrops. But the highlight came at Boka Ascencion, where we stood atop a small cliff and watched turtles swimming in the sea below us.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Our five-kilometer trail got started to the north of the Landhuis, taking us into a dense field of cacti. As we approached the island’s east coast, the prickly plants began to thin out, replaced by curious plants which look like bushes crawling along the ground. These are trees which have adapted to Curaçao’s blustery climate by growing almost horizontally, in the direction of the heavy trade winds.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Up to this point, the hike had been alright; easy, but unspectacular. But from here on out, we encountered one highlight after the other. The first was Boka Ascencion, which is known as a place to spot sea turtles. We only needed a couple minutes before seeing the first come to the surface and dive back down. Churning and with a powerful undertow, this isn’t water you could swim in, but the turtles had no problem with it.

We walked along the boka until reaching the coast, where we watched the waves for about 45 seconds. We would have stayed longer, but had severely misjudged the power and reach of the waves, and were taken off-guard by a massive splash that soaked us completely. Jürgen was able to shield his camera from the worst of it, but we were otherwise drenched.

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike

Our hike now turned to the hills, and we picked our way between a set of enormous rocks. This was an exciting and unexpectedly beautiful part of the trail, and it deposited us at the mouth of Boka Ascencion. After passing by the inlet, we continued south into a forest of tall trees. With the sunlight filtering through the branches, it was lovely. Considering the landscapes we had been negotiating just minutes before, shrubby then watery then mountainous, simply being in this forest was surreal.

We arrived back at the Landhuis Ascension about two hours after we had departed, and found a local arts festival underway. There was a band playing, and people were dressed nicely, so we figured we should take our smelly, sweaty bodies elsewhere. But then we saw the beer being served and decided to stay, after all.

If you want to see the turtles, but not embark on a hike, an easier option is to go straight to Playa Charomba, on the southern side of Boka Ascencion. There’s a parking lot directly off the main road, just before the Landhuis, and the beach only takes a few minutes to reach.

Locations on our Map: Landhuis Ascension | Playa Charomba
Our Route on Wikiloc

Buy Your Hiking Gear Before Arriving In Curacao

Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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January 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm Comments (0)

St. Joris Bay

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After having visited the Curaçao Ostrich Farm, we left our car in the parking lot and walked over to nearby St. Joris Bay. With its calm waters and steady breeze, St. Joris is a popular spot to practice wind-surfing and kite-surfing.

On weekends, you’ll be able to locate St. Joris Bay by the kites in the sky, before you can see the water itself. Curaçao is almost always windy, and since the natural inlet of St. Joris Bay is protected from the raging waves of the east coast, kite surfers flock here to practice their sport. The bay is large, about two and a half kilometers from one end to the other, and we found it full of athletes skipping across the water, holding onto their kites for dear life.

A small, non-profit called Fundashon Sint Joris Baai is based on the west side of the bay. Its mission is to help local kids learn how to windsurf, for free. Children who might otherwise not have the chance can come here to practice with a group of volunteers who have donated equipment and time.

We found a path which leads along the southern side of the bay, and provides a nice view of St. Joris. This is a quiet, undeveloped side of Curaçao, and the bay is beautiful. However, there was an unfortunate amount of plastic trash lining the shore, which I’m assuming washes in from the sea. And since not many people live on St. Joris nor use the paths on which we were walking, it never gets cleaned. But as long as you keep your eyes focused on the water, it’s hard to be disappointed.

Location of St. Joris Bay
Our Trail on Wikiloc

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January 22, 2016 at 2:21 pm Comments (0)

The Curaçao Ostrich Farm

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Established in 1995, the Curaçao Ostrich Farm offers guests the opportunity to meet and eat the world’s largest birds. We joined a tour of the farm, which taught us a lot about the ungainly beasts and allowed us to get up close to them. Perhaps a little too close.

Ostrich Farm Curacao

I’m going to preface our account of the Curaçao Ostrich Farm with a statement which shouldn’t be the slightest bit controversial: ostriches are horrifying. They’re freakishly ugly, alien birds which just get stranger the longer you look at them. Their dumb, staring eyes are scary enough, and it just becomes worse as you consider their towering size, speed and strength, their ability to shatter bone with a single kick, and their nasty disposition. And have you ever seen one poop? There’s a word for it, and that word is “disgusting.”

Shudder. The Curaçao Ostrich Farm is home to over 200 ostriches, and we met quite a few of them during our 45-minute tour of the premises. We started at the oldest birds, who have been at the farm since its inception. Our guide told us that, in captivity, they can live to be over 100. But most of the ostriches being raised here won’t make it nearly that long; they’re being bred for slaughter, and young ostrich meat is the best ostrich meat.

Ostrich Farm Curacao

We saw some emus, the smaller Australian cousin of the ostrich, and then arrived at the pens holding the youngsters. In the first couple years of an ostrich’s life, it’s impossible to tell whether one is male or female; only later, when the feathers begin to change color, will you know. The males are black-and-white, the females more brown.

The “highlight” of our tour was the chance to feed the ostriches. One-by-one, we were asked to hold a big bowl of food, and back up toward the fence. With their freakishly long necks, the ostriches would reach over us and attack the bowl like the awful, mindless beasts they are. It’s fun! We also enjoy covering our faces in cheese and laying down in the alley. Feeding time, rats!

Ostrich Farm Curacao

I’m joking, of course, the feeding is actually pretty fun. And later, you can have revenge. A restaurant at the farm allows you the chance to sample ostrich. Their meat is red, like beef, and has a strong taste; we weren’t big fans of our ostrich burgers, but it was something new to try. “And at the very least,” I thought while munching, “this ostrich’s pooping days are over.”

A visit to the Curaçao Ostrich Farm is a different kind of experience, and perfect for kids. The tour was a little heartless; you could tell the guide had his schtick down by rote, and it’s clearly a place designed for big cruise-ship groups. But overall, it was what we expected… informative, strange, and fun. And it helped me meet my lifetime ostrich quota; I never have to see or taste another one of those things again.

Location on our Map
Curaçao Ostrich Farm – Website

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January 21, 2016 at 9:19 pm Comments (0)

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Ayo, Dushi Krsou! Coming on the heels of one of the most difficult years we've ever endured, Jrgen and I had been desperate for a relaxing and stress-free 91 days. With its chilled-out atmosphere, low-adrenaline activities, friendly people, comforting cuisine, and an infectiously fun culture and all packed into one, small, easily manageable island, Curaao was exactly what we needed. We couldn't have made a better choice.
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