Iguana island

This post is part of a series called Curaçao
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Beaches. Lizards. People.

Ten days of Caribbeans are coming to an end. For an island measuring 61km in length and a maximum width of 14km it is quite impressive that we did take our rental car 736km around the island. Most of our travels you can see tracked in the above map. We visited a lot of beaches, some of them only for 10 minutes just to check out the next one. If anyone goes to Curaçao – rent a car. We wanted to rent a scooter just like we always do on smaller islands, but you are kind of a freak if you would cruise around a scooter. Everybody and his grandma has a car which even leads to rush hour traffic jams. Going from one end to the other end of the island will take you about 2 hours of driving.

The good thing about driving is that gas is cheap – about € 0,9/l or $ 3,9/gal. Not as cheap as the US, but cheaper than Europe. A saying by our AirBnB host Olivier:

You should eat less and drive more on Curaçao.

Because the food is about 1,5x more expensive than Europe as everything has to be imported. The island only has fish. It doesn’t even have oil anymore, even though there is a huge refinery in the middle of Willemstad because Venezuela bought it.

Colorful buildings lining the Willemstad skyline (day)
Colorful buildings lining the Willemstad skyline (night)

Willemstad has some beautiful parts, especially the most-photographed skyline is visually interesting. Right now the Emma bridge is being remodeled so a free ferry takes you from “Punda” over to the other side “Otrabanda” (which literally translated to “other side”).

The beaches in Willemstad are a bit more touristy than the ones in the northwest. Better facilities, English pubs and ice cream, but also meet the standard hotel people looking like human sized red shrimps, drinking Margaritas and showing off their streamlined beach-bodies. The sunset at Mambo beach was lightened up with some funky seagulls

A different spiel alltogether are the beaches in the northwest. There are some true gems such as playa Abou (Grote Knip), Daaibooi, Porto Mari or playa Lagun. The water is always perfectly clear and the weather sometimes even a bit better than in the south. We’re talking whopping 30km further south, yet the weather is different.

The very first day we were in Westpunt (most northern “town”)  and two guys each carrying 5 lizards in their hands by their tails. At the moment a rare sight, but after a couple of days we figured out that locals actually eat lizards (to be exact they are Iguanas) – make stew out of them or a nice Iguana soup. Not that we were afraid to eat them, but we were discouraged by the description of the experience:

Tastes like chicken but with thousands of weirdly shaped little bones.

Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick with chicken feet from Vancouver.

Anyways – you can find these big lizards pretty much anywhere on the island. At playa Lagun they are pretty tame as they are used to tourists so you can actually walk up to them and talk to them… err… touch them. I did also talk to them though. I won the argument. They do look a lot like dragons don’t you agree? The thicker part of the tails do feel a lot like snake skin, weird as they are also reptiles, right? We didn’t really know if they were okay to play with as the Komodo dragons (even bigger lizards) were pretty deadly in their bites – or the bacteria in theirs mouths. So are Iguanas okay to play with? Don’t know. They just chill around anyways and nod their head rhythmically to show dominance. Just like heavy metal listeners. Here some heavy metal pictures of the bunch.

On her quest to visit as many schools as possible on our little trip Anni had the possibility to visit a local school together with our host Violette. This is what she has to say:

After having visited schools on little Islands of the Maldives, a fancy Montessori-preschool in Sri Lanka and a public school in India where I worked with the children for some time I started to think it would be a nice challenge to visit and picture schools around the globe. For me as a (former) teacher it is very interesting to watch the children learn and see different kind of teaching methods sometimes there are none – unfortunately – and the kids are by themselves.

The school on Curacao can be found in a privileged area so there’s no need to look for social hot sport kids. They were all very hard working and attentive. I was surprised by the little ones who go to school in the morning and come to this facility to have lunch together and then, guess what, learn again for two hours. The cute girl on the first picture turned 4 few month ago so I was really impressed by her skills. Funniest thing about this day: I spoke a mix of Spanish and Dutch (not that I speak any Dutch, I have learned my first few words with the children by repeating easy words drawn on picture cards). When the kids realized I spoke their mother tongue (Spanish) you could see some sparkling in their eyes. They loved when I encouraged them to work on new exercises. A happy smile is one of the best memories you find on your trips.

Cute. Aren’t they?

So much about Curaçao – off to Florida.

Curaçao boat
Curaçao boat