Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Floating Markets and Purple Urchins

In Curacao, we head past the high-end shops (tailored for cruisers--jewelry, watches, etc.) in search of the markets and the bus station. The shops are actually built around and old fort--stone walls still in place which gives it a bit more charm.

At the Central Market--we cruise past island fruits and veggies--a tangy, clean scent. Whole & chopped fish for sale--a not-so-sweet-scent, and by a make-shift internet cafe :) I buy sticks of cinnamon from a sweet lady inside, and we talk in Spanish. She brightens up and I'm thankful once again for the language. To be able to connect makes me lighter.

Outside, at the "floating" market--more goods inside boats that float along the canal. The colors astound me. Yellows. Oranges. Reds. Fruit so lush. A climate so warm, so rich. We buy a hand-painted scroll-type piece of art that depicts the people and the goods. Just a slight reminder of the dynamic energy here.

We find the bus station and hop into our "bus." It's really a small, mini-van from the '80s and we're stoked to be able to get to Mambo Beach for $3 each. The two women driving are friendly, engaging. I use my Spanish, but quickly am told that she speaks English. They speak three languages: English, Spanish, and their native Papiamento. It's a language derived from Dutch, Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and African tongues. Spoken here in the Dutch Leewards, it's a beautiful, energetic language that I wish I could speak! We cruise through neighborhoods--modest, colorful cottage homes-- to drop people off, and we're loving the feel of being away from anything touristy. We know right away that Curacao is somewhere we'd like to spend time.

At Mambo Beach, we find crowded shores (resorts and all,) but secure two lounges on a quieter corner on the sand. Snorkeling is great. Tons of coral, schools and schools of fish--big and small, all colors of the rainbow. There's something magical about swimming through or alongside a school of fish. It's like you become one of them, if even for just a mini-second. The highlight for me is watching tall, spiny purple urchins creep across the ocean floor. And they can move!

We end our day at Mambo Beach--filled with sun--more ocean waves and smiles (and a little taste of green Pistachio liqueur--Curacao is famous for it! Yum.)

So lucky to experience this island life.

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