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Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai

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An 18th-century plantation house on the western side of Willemstad, the Landhuis Habaai is home to Curaçao’s oldest private art gallery. On the second Saturday of every month, they host a crafts market, where the island’s amateur artisans can sell their masterpieces.

Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai

We pulled up to the Landhuis Habaai at around 11am, when the place was already buzzing with activity. There were people admiring the art in the permanent gallery, others listening to an artist present her latest creations, and yet more crowding the garden, where an array of stands were selling crafts and artisan products.

Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai

Much of the art inside the gallery is excellent, with themes and colors inspired by the Caribbean. And it’s all for sale, although one look at the prices confirmed what we already suspected: those of us whose monthly “art budget” is jingling around inside our pants pockets are not going to be making any purchases at the Gallery Alma Blou.

We spent more time outside in the garden, among the more affordable artistic offerings of the monthly crafts fair. If you’re in the market for a unique souvenir from Curçaco and happen to be here during the second Saturday of the month, you might want to stop by. Even if the market isn’t on, it’s worth checking out the Gallery Alma Blou, as much for the art as for the lovely old mansion in which its housed.

Location on our Map
Gallery Alma Blou – Website

Framed Curacao Photos

Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai
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February 27, 2016 at 7:19 pm Comments (0)

Landhuis Dokterstuin and the Kas di Pal’i Maishi

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For a contrast between how the different social classes of colonial-era Curaçao lived, visit first the thatch-roofed Kas di Pal’i Maishi, and then head over to the nearby Landhuis Dokterstuin. Set high on a hill, and today home to a popular restaurant, this 18th century mansion is as grand as its neighbor is humble.

Kas di Pali Maishi

The Kas di Pal’i Maishi is a beautifully-preserved adobe house, of the type which used to be found all across Curaçao. These “kunuku houses” were typical dwellings for the island’s inhabitants, and although they’ve mostly been replaced by modern homes, they can still occasionally be seen. There’s nothing fancy to them, but their cool white walls and open windows are perfectly designed to deal with the island’s heat.

Today, the Kas di Pal’i Maisha is a museum dedicated to the bygone way-of-life of the kunuku house, containing some tools and artifacts from the olden days. The exhibits aren’t terribly engaging, but the house itself is interesting, and it’s worth the small entrance fee to get inside it.

Perhaps the family who lived in this house worked at the nearby Landhuis Dokterstuin. This plantation house dates from the 18th century and, like most of Curaçao’s landhuizen, sits proudly atop a hill, with a view over the surrounding countryside.

We visited on a Sunday around lunchtime, and almost didn’t find a place to park. But the people streaming into the plantation house weren’t there to admire its architecture or the elegance of its interior furnishings. They were hungry. Today, the Landhuis Dokterstuin is the home of Komedor Krioyo, one of the island’s best-loved restaurants.

It took a long time for us to get a table, and even longer before our meals arrived, but the wait was worth it. The food was excellent; I had goat meat with tutu, a sweetened mix of cornmeal and black-eyed peas, while Jürgen had stewed beef. But the true highlight of Komedor Krioyo was its rollicking atmosphere. Every table in the large dining hall was occupied by another huge family, and it was the best kind of friendly, fun chaos.

Locations on our Map: Kas di Pal’i Maisha | Landhuis Dokterstuin (Komedor Krioyo)

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Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
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Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
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January 23, 2016 at 7:40 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
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
Curacao Ascencion Turtle Hike
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January 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm Comments (0)

The Tula Museum at Landhuis Knip

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In the late 18th century, a slave named Tula lived and worked at the Knip Plantation, on the northern tip of the island. Angered by the injustice of his situation, he freed himself and led a revolt across Curaçao. Today, his legacy is remembered in the Tula Museum at the Landhuis Knip.

Tula Museum Landhuis Knip

It’s deeply satisfying that, today, the primary purpose of the Knip Plantation is to pay tribute to a man who was once enslaved here. Sorry Mr. Landowner, I’m sure you considered yourself to be pretty important, and I’m sure that back in the 1700s, you were. But history doesn’t remember your ilk too kindly. There’s nothing to honor you at your former mansion. Instead, it’s dedicated to a man you bought, abused and dehumanized: Tula, the slave who eventually said “enough.”

Inspired by the successful 1791 revolution in Haiti, Tula organized the slaves of the Knip Plantation, then informed the plantation master that they now considered themselves to be free men and women. They marched from Knip to Lagun, freeing more slaves and growing their force along the way. By the time they reached Porto Mari, Tula had a group large enough to be of true concern to the Dutch. And if they weren’t concerned yet, they soon would be. On August 19th, 1975, the Dutch army attacked the rebels and were roundly defeated.

Tula Museum Landhuis Knip

But the rebellion didn’t last much longer than that. Chastened, the Dutch organized a serious response, gave orders to kill any armed slave, and dealt a crushing defeat to the rebels. Tula was among those who escaped, and continued a short-lived guerrilla campaign against the Dutch, until his location was betrayed by a slave. He was captured, and then publicly tortured and executed as an example to any others who might get ideas of independence.

Given the compelling history, the Tula Museum in Landhuis Knip is unfortunately a disappointment. The landhuis is nice, but the exhibits don’t go nearly far enough in telling the story. There are some artifacts and implements from the days of slaving, but not much about Tula nor his revolt. And what little information there is, is only in Dutch. It’s a missed opportunity.

Still, the Tula Museum provides the chance to remember this man who has achieved hero status across Curaçao, and makes for a nice cultural stopover between the nearby beaches of Grote and Kleine Knip. But if you want to learn about Tula, it might be better to hunt down the 2013 film about his struggle, starring Danny Glover.

Location on our Map

Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
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January 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm Comments (0)

Landhuis Jan Kok and the Nena Sanchez Gallery

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When the plantation house of Jan Kok was in operation, it was a place of cruelty, where hundreds of enslaved men and women were put to hard labor. But time mellows everything, and that apparently goes for Curaçao’s landhuizen, as well. Today, the Jan Kok is home to the colorful work of native Curaçaoan artist Nena Sanchez.

Jon Kok Nena Sanchez

Originally constructed in 1704, the Landhuis Jan Kok was rebuilt completely in 1840 after a fire. It sits atop a hill, commanding an excellent view over the region, including the flamingo reservation of Sint-Marie and nearby Sint Willibrodrus. This plantation was mostly dedicated to salt, and once had over a hundred slaves. Jan Kok himself had a reputation as one of the island’s more vicious slave-owners, and there’s a legend that his malevolent spirit still haunts the premises.

Jon Kok Nena Sanchez

However, the plantation house is safe today. In the presence of Nena Sanchez’s exuberant artwork, not even the worst of demons could maintain their malevolence for long. Born in Curaçao, Nena has had a whirlwind life. In 1966, she was named Miss Curaçao, and went on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. Afterwards, she lived all around the world, including stints in Asia, Europe and South America. But she eventually returned to her homeland and dedicated herself to painting: her lifelong passion.

With its painted buildings, clear blue sky and shimmering Caribbean waters, Curaçao is a colorful place, and Nena’s artwork seems to transfer the island’s hues directly onto canvas. Her pieces are spread throughout the Landhuis Jan Kok, and even spill out into the garden, which she has turned into a beautiful open-air gallery.

The Landhuis Jan Kok is certainly worth a stop, perhaps after having seen the nearby flamingo sanctuary. Entry is free, although you might find yourself unable to opening your wallet for one of Nena Sanchez’s Caribbean prints.

Location on our Map

Framed Curacao Photos

Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
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Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
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Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
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Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
Jon Kok Nena Sanchez
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December 28, 2015 at 8:40 pm Comments (2)

The Savonet Museum

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The former Savonet Plantation is found within the bounds of Curaçao’s Christoffel National Park. In 2010, the landhuis (manor) was converted into a museum which touches on the history of the island and life on a colonial-era Dutch plantation.

Savonet Museum

The museum starts off at the very beginning of Curaçao’s history, with artifacts left by the Arowak Indians: the people who inhabited the island before the arrival of the Europeans. But the majority of exhibits at the Savonet concentrate on the story of the plantation itself, and what life was like for both landowners and slaves.

The Savonet Plantation’s landhuis was built in 1662, at a time when the Dutch were heavily invested in the slave trade. Hundreds of men and women kidnapped from West Africa were purchased in Willemstad for work on this plantation, which was one of Curaçao’s largest. Even after the 1863 abolition, most of the Savonet’s former slaves stayed on, working for pennies on parcels of land which they now owned.

Savonet Museum

The museum introduces the culture of the Savonet’s slaves and, by extension, those across the Caribbean. We learned about the religion santería, which is a blend of Catholicism and various West African faiths, as well as some of the more curious customs. For example, after birth, newborn babies were safeguarded for eight days to protect them from falling victim to a vampire-like creature known as the “èdze.” Another custom was that, after marriage, the mother of the groom would visit the bridal suite. If she found the sheets stained with “Virgin Tears,” she would bring them in celebration to the mother of the bride. The two old biddies would then wash the sheets and hang them out to dry in the front yard, making sure that every passerby knew about the bride’s chastity. We also learned that many Dutch women would give their babies to a “Yaya,” or nursemaid, for milking. The Yaya was responsible for the child’s upbringing, and would often follow them into adulthood, eventually watching over their children as well.

Savonet Museum

The museum is rounded out with portraits from the plantation days, tools, clothes, a crib, a coffin… and a few real live bats. I almost screamed the first time one whizzed by me through an open door. I might have been afraid that it was an “èdze.”

Perhaps the best part of this museum is its location. While you’re reading about the Savonet’s history, you’re standing in the very spot it occurred. Amazingly, we were the only people there, and this was on a Sunday. I’m guessing that most visitors come to the Christoffel Park to hike up the mountain, and then leave again right away. But if you have any interest in the history of Curaçao, don’t overlook the Savonet Museum.

Location on our Map

Car Rental In Curacao starting at $21.43 per day

Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
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Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
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Savonet Museum
Savonet Museum
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December 22, 2015 at 9:58 pm Comments (0)
Gallery Alma Blou at Landhuis Habaai An 18th-century plantation house on the western side of Willemstad, the Landhuis Habaai is home to Curaçao's oldest private art gallery. On the second Saturday of every month, they host a crafts market, where the island's amateur artisans can sell their masterpieces.
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