Like Aruba, Curaí§ao is Dutch, and the population speaks four languages. We went with our internet-informed friends onto shore and quickly found a taxi driver, Franklin A. Concepcion, who wanted to take us to a few notable places. We negotiated him down from $20/person to $25/couple and off we rode. Our first stop was some caves, complete with stalactites, -mites, and bats. When we arrived, there were several bus loads of people just going in. The lady that took our $7 each to go in the cave told us to wait for a few minutes and then came back and said that it was okay, that she'd lump us onto the last of the large groups. While waiting in line to get to the cave, we saw a few iguanas roaming around. We then climbed some steps up to the cave entrance. The guide said that the cave was 300 million years old, but that it had only been discovered in the 1800's by some slaves who were looking for a place to live. They lived there for a while until slavery was abolished in the late 1800's. Several times the crowd would stop and we could faintly hear the guide explaining something way further ahead that we couldn't see. Then the crowd would move again and we'd have no idea what was going on. At one point, we reached a dead end where the crowd had to make a u-turn and come back on the same path. The guide told those of us at the end to wait at the end of the path because he'd come back and explain some stuff. We waited...and waited. When it became apparent that he wasn't coming back, we had to find our way back to where the people were. Treatment like this really pisses off Spaniards. When we finally got out of the cave, which was incredibly hot (in a cave, really!), we were covered with sweat and pretty peeved. We found our chauffeur, Franklin, we told him that we'd had a really bad experience. He said that he didn't like to hear that and went to talk to the folks that took our money, leaving us conveniently by some little shops. Ten minutes later, they came back and a boss-looking guy explained that they had been surprised that morning by so many buses of people and that they were sorry what happened. We explained that if they had told us that the service was going to be substandard at the time we bought the tickets, we could have made an informed decision to enter or not. The guy said, "Well, what can I do to make it right?" One guy from our group shouted, "Cervezas!" So the boss guy led us to the bar and gave us some beers, which seem to be about a $2.50 value here. Not bad. And that beer sure went down nicely after our time in the sauna caves.
After the caves, Franklin took us to a private beach. Private means we had to pay $3/person to get in. And then it was the worst of the beaches we've been to. The sand was rocky, the water was cloudy, and there were very few gray colorless fish to see on the bottom before it dropped to a depth where you couldn't see the bottom anymore. We spent a few hours there. I had a very nice frozen banana daiquiri at the bar ($6.00), and there was a lovely platform with tables in the shade right on the water that I spent some time in. Finally, Franklin came to claim us again and took us back to the boat. With the twenties given by the other passengers, Franklin had change for the bill I gave him with his name on it.
Jesus lights my path. I got a good chuckle from the obvious metaphor. This decal was on Franklin's van. If you couldn't guess from his surname, he's Catholic.
Some rain clouds in the distance.
The Caribbean has some of the most awesome cumulonimbi I've ever seen. And how cool of a word is "cumulonimbi"?
The canal our cruise ship was parked in. Isn't it just like the Dutch to build canals everywhere they go?
Canal panorama. The architecture was very "colonial", and reminded me of some of the older buildings in the eastern US.
Marga didn't like the rocky sand, so she found these steps on which to meditate with Helios.
Our friends in the water. José in the water, Vero (José's wife) lying down, and the other two are Sergio and Eva. All newlyweds.
My hat and shades. Still castigated to the shade, I spent most of my time sitting at this table taking photos. So that's why there are so many photos with this table.
The thatch roof above me.
The inside of my hat. Pretty neat, huh?
Playing with sunglasses reflection.
Hopefully you can see why I liked this spot so much. What a great view.
I got quite a few compliments on my hat. And several people wanted to borrow it for photos. This is Eva, from our group of friends.
Eva on the silhouette chair.
A visitor came and sat on a chair beside me.
When leaving the beach, we saw some wildlife crossing a boardwalk. Check out the color on that tail!
Bye, Mr. Lizard!
After lunch, we went up on deck to watch as the ship pulled out of the canal and out to sea. After a two hour nap, we headed to an information session about how to check out the next day, and went to dinner. The theme for the night was "Tropical Party". Luckily, I had purchased a Hawaiian shirt the day before. At dinner, all the waiters were wearing Hawaiian shirts and danced around and got the customers up dancing a little meringue. The show in the Broadway Lounge was a display of salsa, meringue, samba, and other "tropical" dances by the ship's Brazilian dance troupe. When the show was over, they lead us, in a big parade with beating drums to a bar out on deck where the real Tropical Party began. They had a buffet of fruits (more food!) and did some organized meringue-based line dancing. It was really hot, and I'm sure I sweat a few liters of the champagne we had for dinner. There was unfortunately little time and space to dance by ourselves (we know little meringue), but it was definitely a festive atmosphere there under the moonlight. We made it back to the cabin at 3:30 AM.
That evening, some of our friends showed us this provocative porcine souvenir they picked up in Aruba.
This object is just wrong.
Having champagne at the tropical dinner.
Marga line dancing.
It was really hot doing the line dance. Doing constant aerobic movement at 85°F with 90% humidity in a tight group of people causes a lot of sweating!
Marga doin' her thang.
Luckily, you could walk a few meters to the stern and get that nice 35 mph wind in your face. Very refreshing.
The reflected moonlight was so beautiful that I had to try and capture it. I knew I'd fail, but I had to try.
Later in the discotheque, I went to get some drinks and came back to find this bloke with his arm around my wife.
He was a pretty good dancer.
Up Next: Isla Margarita (the cruise ends!)