Curaçao: 7 things you probably don’t know about
As some of you would probably know, I (temporary) moved to Curaçao. After almost 2 months since I arrived on the island, I am ready to tell you something about living in this paradisiac corner of the world.
1. Ok, Curaçao, but exactly, where?
Don’t feel so ignorant. Or better, the only ignorant. Before taking this new path in my life, I was a little bit confused myself. So, I’m telling you straight away where it is to get it over with.
Curaçao is one of the so called ABC Islands, together with Aruba and Bonaire.
Does it tell you something?
It is part of the Netherlands Antilles.
Ok, I’m in the Carribean.
Well, yes, this time I found a home where the weather is hot. Poland, Lithuania, it was wonderful time with you, but it’s over now. Bye.
2. Curaçao: one Country, many languages
Which language do you speak in Curaçao? I would almost say: whichever you are able to! Most of the population here is capable to fluently speak four, FOUR, different languages. Dutch, a colonial inheritance, is the official language, the one for the documents. Papiamento, the local language, is the main communication channel when it comes to speaking. English and Spanish are here on the list with the only aim to make us mere mortals having the inferiority complex.
Maybe to you is irrelevant, but when I see them talking, naturally switching from one language to the other, I just stop and stare. And, in the meanwhile I think about all the times I was googling the spelling of some words in ITALIAN (that it is supposed to be my mother tongue).
3. In Curaçao people always greet eachother, even strangers in the streets
If learning about the existence of a language called Papiamento made you curious, I’m going to teach you few expressions:
Bon dìa : Good morning (up to 12)
Bon tardi : Good afternoon/evening (up to 19)
Bon nochi : Good evening/night (by 19)
Learn them by heart, as if you’re thinking about traveling to this country, they’ ll be very useful. One of the things I love the most about Curaçao is the fact that here people in the streets greet you, even if they don’t know you. A habit that some old people in my hometown in Italy still keep, but that is almost completely lost. I would really like to relaunch it, but I am fully aware of the fact that if I start randomly greeting people in the streets they will call me a fool.
4. Your rithms slow down
There are few road where I could spot the speed limit signal. However, here, life goes slow. Poland and Lithuania, I send you all the best greetings again.
There’s no rush to be absolutely punctual, people give you their time without checking their watch every now and then, it is too hot to run.
Of course, that has also some negative sides, especially if you are European and especially if you’re coming here for work. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably planning your holiday or just curious, so let’s consider only one side of the coin.
5. Taking a bus is quite a random thing
Ok, maybe it is not exact to say, but almost. Public transport on the island is not super widespread, but there is. We need to distinguish among the konvoi and the bùs chikí (literally “small buses”). The first ones are the classic bus, just a vintage version, with their schedule and their route map that you can find at the two terminal of the capital city: Otrobanda and Punda. Nowhere else.
The second ones are minivans with room for ten people, reaching different destinations, but with no timetable. When you see a bus stop somewhere, you can sit on the bench and wait until one of them will eventually show up. Praying not only that it will come as soon as possible, but also that the driver won’t show you his index finger. That doesn’t mean anything rude, just that the van is full of passengers.
6. It’s a colorful world
Buildings, even the offices, look like colonial houses, with bright colors. Especially in the capital city, Willemstadt, you will feel like walking on a painter’s palette.
There are many legends linked to this tradition. The most popular story dates it back to a governer from the colonial period who was diagnosed with a strong and chronic migraine. That was due to the white color of the buildings, reflecting too much the brightness of the sun. Thus the governor, in order to heal, prohibited the citizen to leave their houses white, so they had to paint them with colors.
7. In Curaçao, bookshops are like a needle in a haystack
I mean, there are very few of them, and the ones you could find, mostly sell books in dutch. Locals I was asking to told me that people on the island are not actually readers. However, in the end, I was able to find something I was looking for a long time, in a second hand shop.
This is a small introduction of the place that currently hosts me. I am very busy and coming back to writing on the blog (in two different languages) is hard, but I will do my best. In the meanwhile, you can follow my journal on Instagram: @gotripti (or look for the follow button at the bottom of the website).
From Puglia (a Southern Italy wonderful region), born in 1991, 1.63 meters…short! Master in International Relations, I care about human rights and our wonderful planet. I love cooking, volleyball, the sea, winning board games. I hate talking about money, being interrupted when speaking, winter, a badly made Margarita, losing board games.