Late last month I had the opportunity to visit two of the islands of the Dutch Antilles – Bonaire and Curacao – as part of a National Trust Gardens of the Caribbean tour. (These are the B and C islands of the A-B-C Antilles. We didn’t make it to Aruba.) This was a new part of the world for me and it was a great experience.
The scene was set with enlightening lectures prior to our arrival by long-time Trust lecturer Paddy Bowes and Williams College professor Michael Lewis, which prepared me for the very arid conditions on the islands (8 variety of cacti on Bonaire), and the Dutch city-planning and architectural influence. You can see the latter in the photo at the top of the post of one of the most photographed streets in Willemstad.
Our first stop in the Dutch Antilles was the island of Bonaire and the town of Kralendijk. The landscape and wildlife are the stars here, with clear blue waters and pink flamingos.
Our last day of the tour took us to Willemstad, Curacao’s capital. There was much to take in: the Queen Emma Bridge (aka “The Swinging Old Lady) which is a floating pontoon bridge that opens to allow boats to pass into the bay; the Floating Market on the waterfront; the beautiful colonial architecture of the government buildings; and my favorite, the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere complete with a very unusual sand floor. I was able to take a “This Place Matters” photo there – translated into Dutch!
The tour was wonderful…capped off by being able to spend a week on the beautiful Sea Cloud II. I made a number of new friends, rekindled a couple of old friendships, and had a chance to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the Caribbean. A great way to spend a week in February!
More to come…