Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fun Adventures in Curacao: Part 1

This week, the husband and I are vacationing in Curacao for the second consecutive year. We absolutely love this country and could not wait to get back! The people are friendly, helpful and just delightful to watch and interact with. Both times, we have stayed in a condo, rented a car, gone to the grocery store, etc., so as to get an authentic experience. Sure, we've done the all inclusive resorts in other countries but in Curacao, we like being amid the locals.

A little about this beautiful land: Curacao is a Dutch Caribbean island just off the coast of Venezuela. It's one of the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) islands, which all lie below the hurricane belt and are known as some of the best diving spots in the world. When in the capital city of Willemstad, you can actually see the coastline of Venezuela. Because it was a Dutch colony, up until October 10, 2010, there is a heavy European influence here which makes for an interesting culture. When we were here last summer, we kept seeing signs campaigning for independence from the Netherlands. We tried to keep up with their local news since our last visit to follow the outcome but since neither of us speak Dutch or Papiamento (the local language), we couldn't quite figure out the results. To our surprise, we just so happened to return on the anniversary week of their independence. The people here are so nice, they called it Curacao's First Birthday, not their Independence Day. I thought that was interesting and very non-confrontational! There have been celebrations all week and we have enjoyed watching and experiencing the culture.

Yesterday, we decided to take a break from the sun and do some sightseeing. When we were here last year, we packed in a great deal of sightseeing but there were still some things we missed. There is plenty to do on this sweet island! We took in the Aloe Vera Plantation and the Ostrich Farm. Both were interesting and worth the visit. At the Aloe Vera Plantation, we watched farmers harvest the Aloe by hand, and learned more about the unknown uses of the Aloe plant. I had no idea you can eat and drink aloe! I left with a burning desire to plant some back home in Atlanta! In the Caribbean, Aloe plants are also a sign of good luck...I definitely need to plant some! Our tour was given by a native Curacao lady who has lived her all her life, with the exception of a two year stint in North Carolina...random, I know! Check out some of the pictures below...
Peeling the first layer off the Aloe plant

Harvesting the Aloe gel. It's stringy like okra. Interesting fact: the aloe plant is part of the onion, leek, and garlic family.
You can tell by smelling it when it's first cut. I had no idea!

Check out the irrigation system. All the water used is recycled waste
that is purified and used for watering. 

Another shot of one of the fields

Up close and personal with an Aloe plant

Farmers harvesting the Aloe by hand

The Warehouse where the Aloe is peeled. This is the first and only piece of machinery the plants touch.
Mostly everything is done by hand here. 

One of many fields of Aloe plants

Yours Truly at the Aloe Plantation
This was a great experience! A truly holistic plantation. Nothing is wasted! They also sell a wide variety of Aloe products...just about anything you can think of. I asked and they do ship to the US. It takes about two weeks, with the exception of December for obvious reasons. We learned so much about the Aloe plant and it's uses. This plant really is the world's first aide kit. If you are ever in Curacao, I recommend visiting this plantation. You will love it!

Coming up next: Adventures at the Ostrich Farm. Stay tuned!
As always, thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I was NOT compensated in any way by the Aloe Vera Plantation, Ostrich Farm or Curacao Tourism Board. 

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