14 July 2010 | Spanish Waters
13th July 13, 2010
Sorry about the delay with the blog but here, finally, is an update of the last month. A lot of time in the first weeks was spent with Vossie recovering and the odd trip to the supermarket and of course to watch World Cup soccer.
Most of the spares have arrived and slowly we have begun to fix the few issues we had.
We were fortunate to meet up with a friend from St Maarten, Mike Voges of Lady C bar, who is originally from Curacao and he very kindly lent us a car for a few days, which enabled us to go sightseeing around the island. The first day we thought to travel the northern part of the island and we started off at the Hato Caves. These caves cover an area of 4900 square meters of limestone formations, a waterfall, water pools and the famous Madonna statue. Also present inside the caves is a colony of seldom seen long nose bats which are protected within the caves. We also walked the Indian Trail and saw rock carvings done by the Caiquetio Indians 1500 years ago. These carvings have been found only in this area of the Caribbean and in certain areas along the South American Orinoco river where this tribe originally came from. In the park around the caves saw many iguanas which were brought to the island as food by the Indians. They are strictly vegetarian and can grow up to 120cm, weigh up to 3 kilos and live up to 30 years. The bright green colored babies live in trees until they are about 18 months old.
We continued north passing through the villages and stopping whenever there was something of interest to see. There are many historical Country Estates dating to the 17th & 18th century dotted around the island some of which house restaurants or guest houses. Saw the traditional windmills pumping water at remote sites and stopped to see the impressive Wind turbines located on the San Pedro plain. A row of tall, white towers gleaming in the sun on the rough north coast, using the average wind speed of 19.7 mph with little daily variation, to generate electricity.
Next stop was the Bocas on the north east point. Here we visited the various inlets , the most impressive being Boca Pistole. As the waves rush into a narrowed area of rock they make the sound of a pistol shot going off and send water flying up into the air. Vossie also left his signature in one of the small gullies, he couldn't resist. This whole coastal area was desert like, the little shrubs that managed to survive growing horizontal to the ground from the constant buffeting by the wind.
In total contrast to the rocky and beachless north side of the island we arrived at Westpunt to a vista of a calm bay with fishing boats at anchor and beautiful clear blue water. All the beaches are on this side of the island and are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. We stopped at most of them trying to make the difficult decision as to which one to come back to at a later time.
We stopped at the Flamingo Sanctuary on the way back. What a beautiful sight! Unfortunately they were not very close to land so my photos cannot do justice to the spectacle.
Our first day sightseeing was very successful and rewarding and we arrived home tired but happy and ready for the next day.
Another early start to the day to visit the Ostrich Farm. Also an interesting tour in an open truck and we got to feed the ostriches as well. Saw emus and pot bellied pigs and crocodiles. Just like home! This farm is managed by a couple from South Africa so had a nice chat to them as well, much to Vossie's delight. Then off north again to find the right beach to relax on, snorkel and have our picnic lunch. Eventually decided on one that wasn't busy and had a very pleasant time swimming and exploring the rocky outcrops. It felt like swimming in an aquarium as Debbie pointed out.
Arriving back in Willemstad we stopped at the Nassau Fort built on a hilltop overlooking Willemstad. Built in 1797 to defend the St Anna Bay and the city and now has a restaurant and bar. From here we had a perfect view over the city and were able to watch the pontoon foot bridge open to allow a big tanker into the harbour guided by tugs.
On the way home took advantage of the car and did some grocery shopping, especially cases of beer, which are a little difficult with the bus. We have found and explored most of the big supermarkets and hardware stores which would have not been possible without the generous offer of the car.
On one of the days into Willemstad by public bus we visited some of the forts in town and Bob also wanted to see the Telecommunication museum but unfortunately this was closed until further notice. We did however visit a few of the Forts, one of which, Fort Amsterdam, houses the Governor and government offices and still has a cannonball embedded in one of the walls which was fired by Capt. Bligh's troops. The Rif Fort and Renaissance Mall built in 1828 at the entrance to the harbor is converted into a shopping mall.
Another interesting outing was a visit to the Chobolobo Country House where you see how the Curacao liqueur " Blue Curacao" has been distilled in the traditional way for 100 years. Naturally we took full advantage of the free tasting on offer.
Boat work, Vossie has moved the SSB tuner from it's old position to one of the "built" boxes so that the aerial connection to the tuner box can be shorter. This allows for better transmitting/receiving. So now that, that is done he hopes to fit the "aqua gen", a generator that is water driven and hangs off the back of the boat whilst sailing. It apparently produces a lot of power.
Lastly, we all enjoyed the World Cup final sitting in the bar, surrounded by Dutch supporters in Dutch territory, and adding support to the Spanish. For all of you that know Vossie this does not need any further explanation. Needless to say , when Spain won there were a few very angry Dutch supporters who told us exactly where we should not be. However it was an exciting game and a happy day.
As you can see we have been quite active, work and play has been mixed thoroughly and we have enjoyed sharing our adventures with our friends, Bob and Debbie. So let me get this one off and hope to do the next one soon.