I was minding my business on the second floor of a club in Amsterdam last year, when I got approached by a fine caramel-colored man with a raspy voice, perfectly white teeth, and a twinkle in his eye. We chatted for a moment, and he told me he was from Curaçao. I wasn’t familiar with the small Dutch Caribbean island just north of Venezuela, but if all the men there looked as good as he did, I was more than willing to visit. I added it to my travel wish list that same night.
Yes, one of the reasons I went to Curaçao was shallow – fine men.
Fast forward a year, and while I was scrolling social media, someone was raving about how great of a time she had in Curaçao and how rich the history was. She showed photos of a visit to the Kula Hulanda Museum, and that made me finally check out the flight prices.
Curaçao was good to me – good for me. It felt like a vacation from my vacation after going nonstop in Cartagena for a week. Despite me preparing a jam-packed itinerary full of activities, I relaxed and did nothing most days. I sat in my own thoughts, and sometimes I didn’t think at all. I just sat on the windowsill in silence. I journaled in a hammock in the garden of my temporary home until I fell asleep, then I proceeded to sleep again in my comfortable bed. I drank lots of hot tea and fruit punch. I floated in the Caribbean Sea. I counted the stars in the night sky.
My Airbnb was located in the Otrobanda region of the city. Otrobanda translates to “the other side” in Papiemento, the native language of Curaçao which is a mixture of African languages, Spanish, and Dutch. This area was located on the other side of the city of Punda – the main area. When Punda got too full, Otrobanda acted as an overflow. My host was in Europe for the summer, so his cohost was in charge. She was a wise yoga-loving vegan from Suriname who sensed I was on some life journey.
“You’re early,” she said. “People don’t usually go through that phase of wanting to live for themselves until they’re around 35.”
She talked to me about how the stress from all the murdered animals I was eating needed to be released from my body through yoga. I hadn’t practiced yoga in about seven years, but I was entertained. I told her I would go to a yoga class at the beach with her later in the evening. At the same time, I was looking forward to eating a fried chicken plate later.
I spent one day on the western portion of the island. I made my way to Klien Knip, a small beach with only a few facilities but lots of beauty. I enjoyed it because it was quiet with only about twenty visitors. The water was a bit cool, and it took a moment to adjust to the temperature.
I intended to visit Grote Knip after lunch that day. It was a short distance away from Klein Knip, but a larger beach and with more facilities. Unfortunately, it was overcrowded with tourists when I arrived, so I headed back to Klein Knip to spend the rest of the day. Grote Knip was the only beach I visited that had tour buses in the parking lot.
Cas Abao was another nice beach. It was quiet for quite some time until a group of college kids chose to set up next to me. On the way back, I drove by a spot known for flamingo viewing, but my timing must have been off because I didn’t see any flamingos.
Jan Kok beach came at the recommendation of my Airbnb host after she discovered my beach style was more quiet and relaxed. When I told her I was going to Mambo Beach, she suggested Jan Kok instead because Mambo Beach was more of a party beach she sensed I might not enjoy.
During the same discussion about Jan Kok beach, my Airbnb host suggested a quiet spot with some of the best views of the island. She was right. The 360° views were mesmerizing, and there wasn’t another person in sight.
Curaçao holds a special place in my heart because I found peace while there. My life was at one my lowest points, but somehow, I managed live through it. Years from now, I’ll look back at the photos and smile. Smile because I know I was hurting before I got there.