Cruising along Venezuela’s Atlantic (Caribbean) shoreline, the ship sailed slowly from Aruba to Curaçao, arriving at Willemstad at 8 AM.
Kay had an early morning excursion while I walked through the downtown area, crossing the Queen Emma Bridge (famous as a floating bridge). The pastel colored buildings, reminiscent of Old Amsterdam, were a reminder of that the islands were, until recently, a Dutch colony. Many of the stores in this quaint harbor town were closed on this beautiful Sunday morning, including the sand-floored, 17th-century Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue.
Kay took the Hato Caves and City Center Excursion today. The Hato Caves are the home of a colony of long nose fruit bats. The cave isn’t large compared to Blanchard Caverns in AR, but it is incredibly old and considering they are on a small island in the Caribbean with approx. 15-20 inches of rain a year, it’s amazing that stalactites and stalagmites have formed with 1/5 of an inch growth each year. There were 50 steps up to enter the caves and approximately 100 steps up and down within the cave system. There were several tourists in our group who weren’t in good enough shape to meet the requirements for this tour but they came any way and we were lucky no one was hurt.
One complication for our excursion was that 2/3’s of the tour were Chinese with an interpreter. The other 1/3 tourists were English speaking. Our tour guide was a Curaçao native with a strong accent who was barely adequate in English. So she would give information in English and then the Asian interpreter would translate to the Asian tourists. At least she had a remote microphone and they had ear sets to receive her translation. Either way, it doubled the time of our tour. We wandered about in the Old Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buildings were painted different beautiful colors and were architecturally similar to Dutch designs. We crossed over the famous floating bridge and then we entered the pier area through the Rif Fort area which has been converted into shops of varies kinds to entice the tourists to explore and purchase items, food, etc.
I was very glad to get back to the cruise ship. A 2 hour tour became a 4 hour trial.