Unexpected Journeys: Going to Curacao
Several months back we started thinking about where we wanted to go after leaving Ecuador. With a bit of back and forth it was clear that both of us were ready to leave the Americas. We wanted a change in cultures, something apart from the Hispanic inspired societies based upon the Spanish colonial model. Something exotic, something totally different with ancient history, spectacular landscapes, exceptional architecture and unique cuisine.
Our conversations went something like this:
“Europe or Asia?”
“Ooooo – what about Turkey?”
“Oh, I want to see Eastern Europe.”
“But what about New Zealand or Morocco or Vietnam …?”
Obviously, our focus needed to be adjusted and refined. Some people call this kind of conversation “brainstorming” but we call it “derailed.” We decided to go online and, after some reading and more conversation about our enormous world with all its possibilities for places to travel, we finally came up with … Malaysia. It had much of what we wanted including a large expat community, a variety of cultures and nationalities, was high on the exotic meter and completely different from any place we’d ever been. And a plus – it would be a great jumping-off point to begin our travels in Asia. We checked out airline tickets from Ecuador to Malaysia (electing to avoid any Malaysian airlines for the time being) and decided it was eminently doable although we wouldn’t be traipsing back to the US for a time.
And then, before we began to make the serious moves of purchasing the airline tickets and securing our initial lodging, we received an email from a friend we had housesat for in Costa Rica who asked if we might be interested in house and pet-sitting for her sister in Curaçao. Hmmm … so here’s where we get a little red-faced and have to admit that we had not a clue as to the whereabouts of Curaçao. We googled it, repeatedly, once to figure out where it was, another time simply to hear its pronunciation (Kur-uh-sow) and then to research the island itself. For those of you who also have no clue where it is:
And so, we read about the island country of Curaçao, which became an independent nation in October, 2010, when the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved. The island was “discovered” by the Spanish in 1499 who promptly enslaved the indigenous Arawak population. It languished in obscurity for well over a century until 1634 when the Netherlands achieved independence from Spain and claimed possession of the island. Shortly thereafter the Dutch West India Company decided that its natural harbor and setting made it an ideal location for shipping, commerce and piracy. It also became a thriving center for the Atlantic slave trade and its affluence is reflected in its colorful edifices which blended Dutch and Spanish architectural styles but also resulted in some buildings completely unique to the island, particularly those associated with the older plantation system.
Our readings about Curacao resulted in our sensing that this here-to-fore unknown country could be exactly what we were seeking; exotic with a unique history. We sent a few emails back and forth with the homeowner to find out more of what she was looking for in caretakers for both her home and pets. Soon enough, with very little resistance and much enthusiasm, we had a seven-week house and pet sit lined up in a lovely country surrounded by Caribbean waters.
So, what to do with December since our 90-day visa for Ecuador expired at the beginning of the December? Cartagena, Colombia went back on our list and, as our faithful readers know, we had a terrific month in that picturesque city sight-seeing and immersing ourselves in its fascinating history.
After years of fixed plans, following demanding career paths and setting five-year goals we’ve come to treasure f-l-e-x-i-b-i-l-i-t-y. We must remain mentally nimble to take leaps as opportunities present themselves. It’s become a huge part of our travel plans – or no plans – and we try not to get too far ahead of ourselves so that we can change our direction, slow down or, conversely, move a bit faster.
And as for our travels after Curaçao? We have airline tickets to the Dominican Republic and other, more nebulous plans that we’re waiting to fall into place. Our travel lifestyle has slowly transformed into unexpected journeys that require curiosity and uncertainty as the ability to avail ourselves of opportunities that may present themselves.
By Anita and Richard