Sunday, June 3, 2012

West side riding

Riding to the west side of the island of Curacao is like escaping fora weekend getaway to the countyside. The rural feel of the surroundings as I travel west reminds me of being on a camping trip in Canada with my family as a child. For one, the drive is shorter and the beaches are at your fingertips. The quaint little towns and villages with their own character give the traveller a glimpse into the lives of the simple-minded, quiet and easy-going life in Curacao.

On one of our trips to Westpunt my husband and I stumbled upon a barbeque in a little neighbouhood along the way. We had taken a detour to get around a construction zone and noticed a sign with a menu of local cuisine. We decided to explore this option for lunch instead of stopping at the nearby snack stand since the smell of barbeque food seemed so much more appealing. We walked over to a cute little house and were greeted with smiles all around. We ordered our usual bbq galina cu batata and had a seat on a lovely covered balcony. We felt like we had joined into a family barbeque with music playing, people relaxing and children running free on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and felt lucky to be experiencing this aspect of Caribbean life. While we waited some of the children were drawn to my son Darwin, who was 5 months old at the time, and I had the opportunity to practice my Papiamentu with them. All in all it was a wonderful end to our ride on the west side.

It is so easy to stumble upon something different on the west side such as a secluded beach or a very old cemetary. There are several beautifully built landhouses that can be seen from the main road and visited for a look into the history of Curacao. Some have been transformed into restaurants that offer local cuisine and also live music. Many avid travellers that frequent the west side are very familiar with Christoffel National Park as well as Shete Boka National Park but may not know about Hofi Pastor where the oldest tree in Curacao grows. It is over 800 years old and is also surrounded by other old flora such as cacti. A little trail will lead you through the area where you can gaze at these old plants that carry so much history as well as a little mystery with them. It is said that the oldest tree was once worshipped by the Arawak Indians who lived in the vicinity and protected it. Today the area is also used as a camping ground and is especially fun for children. After a walk through the trail visitors can sit down under the thick arborous canopy and have a cold drink from the local soursap fruit while the kids play in the garden.

The best part of the journey out west is that after a day of exploring you can cool down at a secluded beach and enjoy the peace and beauty of the surroundings. You may have planned to go to a particular beach such as Lagun or Knip only to have missed the road sign and made a wrong turn toward another beach that you didn't know about but were happy to have found. That's the sweet thing about west side riding in Curacao. Each outing is a unique experience.