June 23, 2013-Curaçao
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
There are a few sunburned and wizened old single handers here, mostly Dutch.
"The bus driver doesn't like us." Dick said.
"Why?" I asked. We were hanging out on his boat, a catamaran with barnacles creeping up the side. He's been here for nine years.
"Because we're Dutch." His buddy Haus nodded.
"I don't get it, doesn't Holland put heaps of money into this country?"
"Yeah, but we were the slave owners 200 years ago." he answered.
So that's the story of Curaçao:
The Dutch built this place, brought in slaves, and now, 200 years later, there is still resentment over that fact.
Understandable, I guess.
The truth is that the Dutch own this island, support it, and in the background, hold it standing upright, but the coloreds simmer.
They always will.
We've been here only a few days, but the underlying tensions are evident. Never mind that, what about from our perspective?
Well, Curaçao is old, and beautiful. And we love it.
Discovered by the Spanish in 1502, Curaçao had a great harbor, one of the best in the world, still does, and it was a natural hub for shipping trade in the southern Caribbean. The island was occupied by the Dutch in 1634 and the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a centre for the Atlantic slave trade in 1662. That and piracy flourished here for a few hundred years bringing wealth to Curaçao and Holland. The capitol city of Willemstad, with its attractive Dutch and Latin American architecture, still stands, as does the legacy of Dutch rule over the larger black population.
And that is what Dick was alluding to when we told me that the blacks resent the Dutch.
What we noticed while travelling around Curaçao is that while the Dutch own the place, the blacks and, equally, the Venezuelans, run the place. They give it the feel on the streets and in the shops, and it is they whom you will be dealing with as you travel around the island.
And that part we are OK with. In fact we love the Latin American feel of Curaçao.
We just don't like the sullenness we experience sometimes.
But I guess we can't blame them.
Click here for more photos of Curaçao.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Curaçao