From the moment I arrived at the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort and Emerald Casino, I was treated like a queen and fed like a king. Within minutes of settling into my oceanfront room, I had devoured the tray of gourmet chocolate, fine Danish cheeses, crackers, and fresh tropical fruit that awaited me and, just a short while later, overindulged with a lobster salad at one of the resort’s fine restaurants. A private van tour of the island on day two included lunch at Doktorstuin Restaurant, an historic converted plantation home that served up authentic local cuisine, and that was topped off with another gourmet dinner back at the resort. Lying in bed that evening like a beached whale, I resolved to get some much needed exercise the following day.
Fortunately, the Marriott is located an easy half-hour walk from Willemstad, the capital of this tiny south Caribbean island. I walked out the front entrance, turned right, and headed toward the ocean. Just past an idyllic public beach I found the Koredor George Hueck, a broad asphalt path leading to the heart of the city. Initially, mangrove swamps and black coral coastline flanked the path. As I approached the outskirts of Willemstad, the island’s desalinization plant appeared, its holding tanks lined up like behemoth sentinels on the inland side of the trail.
On the opposite side, two dozen Lilliputian shacks squatted along the ocean, mocking their leviathan neighbors. Patched together from scraps of tin roofing, old doors, and discarded plywood, these floridly painted shanties are homes to local fishermen – piscaderos – who launch their tiny wooden boats into Piscadero Bay and head out into open ocean, hoping to catch enough fish to fill their five-gallon plastic buckets each day.
Many boats bobbed in the protected jetty behind the houses but just as many littered the front yards, teetering against one another, their bright colors fading away and hulls slowly decaying under an unforgiving sun. One fisherman stepped out of his skiff and held up a large fish for me to admire. “Red Snapper?” I asked. He nodded, posed for my photo, and wordlessly walked off. Although Willemstad’s famous colorful architecture and historic pontoon bridge were interesting sights, my stroll through the fishing village at Piscadero Bay was one of the highlights of my visit. Not only did I walk off the sumptuous meals of the previous two days, I discovered a true piece of Curaçao culture, existing as it has for generations, untouched by tourism.
Disclosure: Author Barbara Weibel visited Curaçao as part of a press trip, provided by the Marriott Resort and Emerald Casino, which is ideally located within walking distance of Willemstad.