Monday, July 21, 2008

Bon Bini

The beautiful coast of Curacao

Dan's so excited ... a Cliff-jumpers paradise!

Church on the beach! Curacao Christian Fellowship

Dan going in for a closer look

Everything is OK!

"Bon Bini", or "Welcome", to Curacao! It is hard to believe this is our new home. Our first week in Curacao has been a wonderful one despite the pressure of getting settled into a new apartment and figuring out exactly what our new jobs will entail. This is a truly unique place with so many different flavors, scents, sights, and sounds blended into a fascinating cultural and geographic topography. There is so much to say, but only a little bit of time - so the best we can do is hope that this introduction to Curacao inspires at least a few of you to make the journey.

Our New Home - Pimpiriweg 17, Apartment 3:
2 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom, a large open living space, and a giant patio - but that doesn't begin to describe it. First off, Curacao is a relatively flat island compared with many of the other volcanic islands that make up a majority of the Caribbean; but our new home sits at the top - the very top - of a large hill that overlooks the central part of the island. The view is by no means 360 degrees of tropical paradise - some of the sights and scents of Curacao are definitely not paradisical. The island's oil refinery sits off in the distance spewing it's poison into the never-ending blue skies. However, the tropical breeze never stops blowing through our apartment and we can watch the sun rise and fall over both ends of the island, and most importantly have a strategic vantage point in discovering and defining the blend that is Curacao. Brightly colored parakeets sing as they fly by our open windows and as night falls we can hear the lion's bellowing at Curacao's Tropical Parke. Tile floors and white walls mean we can appreciate the natural light that the tropical sun provides during the day, and a few candles do the trick once the sun goes down. When school starts in a couple of weeks, and we make our daily trip to work, I am sure we will appreciate the short 5 minute drive we have from our new home as well.

Discovering Paradise:
I believe that the true paradise of the island resides in two places: the hearts of the people who live here, and just beneath the glistening surface of the Southern Caribbean. Erin and I both look forward to exploring these two dynamic and intriguing places and I imagine that many of our updates will focus in on one, the other, or both. Since we arrived we haven't had the time to go scuba diving, but we have gone snorkeling twice. Curacao is loaded with world-class dive spots and most of them sit within swimming distance of the shore. Along most of the shoreline of Curacao the cliffs drop straight into the deep, crystal clear water (if you want to perfect your double back flip this is the place) but a little bit of searching will inevitably lead you to a quiet lagoon teeming with aquatic life. While eating lunch at a quiet restaurant overlooking a bay on our second day we could see a family of sea turtles swimming around next to a group of dutch teenagers enjoying the thrill of throwing themselves off the forty foot cliff. Right away I knew we had come to the right place. As far as the people here go we believe they are a genuine and kind group, and because they are such a blend of various cultures and nationalities they seem to not be bothered by differences. We haven't met too many Americans yet, and that is ok, but it will mean that we will be the minority here - most people speak to us first in Dutch, or sometimes Papamientu (the local dialect), but have no problem trying out their English on us when we stare back with confused looks on our faces. I have enjoyed speaking Spanish with many of the locals and also trying to figure out Papamientu, and I definitely hope to leave the island speaking four languages (even if two of them are almost totally useless outside Curacao or the Netherlands). Learning languages and exploring a new culture will be fun, but it will be the new friends and lasting relationships that stand out as the real treasure we will take from the island when we leave. Hopefully we'll be able to leave a little treasure behind too!

We're off to tackle some more of Curacao! Until next time, check the airfare to Paradise!

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