15 February 2021 | 12 03.520'N:68 51.216'W, Spaanse Harbour, Curacao
12 03.520 N
68 51.216 W
Weather; sunny, wind n/a, waves n/a
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY TO EVERYBODY
At least we woke up to a better day today, it wasn't really sunny to begin with but it wasn't raining so that was all good. I waited for the cards, flowers, chocolates, new car or even a word or two of undying love and devotion but whatever romantic bone my husband ever had in his body has long since rusted away. I did get a cooked breakfast made for me but I'm pretty certain that wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been feeling hungry and in need of a cooked breakfast himself, I'm not complaining though, it would just fall on deaf ears these days anyway!
Once I'd done the washing up I needed to make some bread as we were totally out of it and you can't possibly manage a day without some sort of sandwich. I thought I'd try a different recipe today one that used mashed potato as an ingredient. My only reason for this was that I had a left over baked jacket potato in the fridge which needed using or throwing out and I couldn't in all consciousness throw it away. I mixed the dough and when it came to the kneading part I thought I'd made a fatal error as I hadn't mashed the potato up so that there weren't lumpy bits in it, oh well I'd just have to persevere and see how it turned out. I put it out in the cockpit to proof as per usual but after about half an hour I thought it was too windy outside and bought it back below to finish proofing whilst I typed yesterday's blog and answered some emails. When I next looked at the dough it was like the monster had come alive and was making its escape from the bowl - it was time to knock it back and shape it before second proofing it. I also decided that I would add garlic and rosemary to half of the dough and see how it turned out - this was either going to be a roaring hit or a total disaster today so I had nothing to lose at this stage. Meanwhile Gerry had been putting another block for the spinnaker downhaul in place on deck. It was by now lunchtime, not that either of us needed or wanted anything to eat as we were still full from breakfast. I asked Gerry what time we were going to go ashore and he said in about 30 minutes, as the bread wasn't ready to cook yet that left me with little option but to put the dough in the fridge to finish proofing and then to cook it on our return - something I had never done before. I was sure this bread would turn out to be a disaster as this was an experiment to begin with and I'd already made what I thought was a mistake with the dough, oh well there was little I could do about it at this stage so it went into the fridge
and we got ready to leave for the afternoon ashore. So what do you do on a Sunday when everything is closed up? We thought we would just do a drive along to the shoreline and follow the beach road to the Aquarium and go to Mambo beach which was a recommendation from a friend who I'll not name but he emphasized the fact that there were topless sunbathers a plenty on Mambo beach! We took a few roads that we hadn't been down before and eventually found our way to the Aquarium which was right next to Mambo beach, and closed - there's a surprise! We couldn't actually see the beach, just a huge overflowing car park in front of a load of shops and a walkway, which apparently lead down to the beach. We did a quick circuit of the car park which was heaving, and decided that the beach was probably packed to the hilt so we would give it a miss and continue along the shore road to see where it took us. I think that we had found where most locals go on a Sunday with their families! As we
drove we could see the shoreline, it didn't look too inviting to us with the exception of a couple of places where there were tikki huts and picnic tables with no one using them, the surf looked a bit rough as it does after a day of rain. As we continued we began to see signs for Punda, which meant we were heading to Willemstad, we knew where we were and kept going until we reached the city. Once in the city we found that the entire place was closed and this was definitely the day to have done the tourist stuff of searching out the art installations etc. parking was free today and without all the business traffic there were parking spots everywhere we looked. I suggested to Gerry that we might even be able to get into the courtyard of Fort Amsterdam today and let's give it a try. We managed to get a parking spot right outside the fort and made our unimpeded way into the courtyard - we had the entire place to ourselves apart from a few government cars (I can't believe that they working today - what government does?, they must have been pool cars!) we got to see the buildings up close that are now used as the seat of government, the original fort church, the cannons and the museum - none of which are open to the public due to covid but we did at least see them. All of the buildings are in pristine condition considering that they were originally a fort. We walked around, took photos and made our way back out to the street, we were just across the road from the Queen Emma pontoon bridge and I suggested that today might be a good day to walk across the bridge so off we set. On the bridge we commented that it was a good job that we had our sea legs as even with the bridge in the closed position the rocking and rolling of the bridge was enough to make some people sea sick. We did the walk across to the Otrobanda side, taking more photos and enjoying the views from on the bridge itself. We spent some time looking at the mechanisms that make the bridge capable of opening, they look to be well worn and rusting out even though they are still being used. The actual boardwalk of the bridge was in really good condition though. We did the return walk back across to the Punda quarter and spotted that the cafe where we had watched the bridge opening the other day was open for business - the only place that we had seen open in the city today so we decided to go and have a cold drink and chill out for a while. We had just got our drinks when the siren sounded and the bridge began to open, it was a case of bad timing on our part, if we had been a little longer on the bridge we could have ridden the bridge! We watched as the bridge opened just about a quarter of its opening span to allow a tug boat to pass through and then it closed again. Not 15 minutes later the siren went again, we couldn't see any boats waiting to enter or exit but this time the bridge opened to its fullest extent and stayed open. It took a while but then we saw a very large container ship making its way slowly down the water with the aid of 2 tug boats and a pilot boat. It was very high in the water - mostly empty containers we guessed, and as it passed under the Queen Juliana bridge we wondered if the deck cadet was out on deck making sure that the top of the ship and its cranes were going to clear the bridge, like we watched going under the ICW bridges in Jacksonville with our previous boat. Needless to say it made it under the bridge and headed out through the open Queen Emma pontoon bridge, with the tugs retuning shortly afterwards and the bridge making its return journey across the bay to lock in place once more on the Punta quarter side. I know I have gone on about this bridge but it really is a fascinating bit of engineering to witness. Anyways we had by now finished our drinks and it was time to head back home, on the way back to the car we took appropriate photos for Valentine's day of an art installation called "Locked hearts". It's basically 3 metal wire hearts which you are encouraged to add a padlock to - a bit like the bridge in Paris. I don't know if there has always been 3 hearts or if the original heart got so full of padlocks that a further 2 hearts have been added but the middle heart is chockablock full of hearts and the other 2 hearts are just begging to be added to. No we didn't add a padlock, we don't carry those sort of things around with us but we did take a (very bad) selfie in front of the hearts as a memory for Valentine's day 2021.
Back on the boat I retrieved the dough from the fridge, and left it on the counter to finish rising in the warmth, it had done a fair bit of proofing in the fridge so now I know that, I might, in future, make the dough at night and leave it to proof overnight. Into the oven with the dough and out into the cockpit for a glass (read bottle) of wine for Gerry and I. We had already agreed that it was Sunday soup night, hopefully with fresh bread. When it came out of the oven the smell was fabulous we couldn't wait any longer and quickly heated up the soup and cut into the warm bread. My misgivings about the lumpy mash potato had no founding, you couldn't distinguish the potato in the bread but I have to say that the bread had more of a scone feel to it than a soft bread, it was still delicious, and we finished half the garlic and rosemary loaf in one sitting - perfect with soup! The half that I had left plain has gone in the freezer for later.
So our romantic day was at an end, sadly lacking in things being open but a good trip around the island anyway. I think we know most of the roads around Curacao now and have just about seen everything of any interest that is open. If you even come here bear in mind that the best day to see stuff in the city is Sunday - lots of free parking and empty streets, just no shops open.
We hope you all had a romantic day to remember on those cold dark nights.