4 September 2023

Curacao Trip

  1. Porthole into my ‘morrow Aug 31, 2023

    Sitting in the flight to Miami – my first flight with Sharmila after joining the new job – I am driven to reflect on the recent past. There I was, minding my own business – enjoying an early retirement, covering beaches of a different island or country every month – Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Abaco, Roatan … not to speak of the Coronado Island (twice) in this country within the first six months of this year, when the best laid plans of mice and men got upset.

    Reflecting further, I might have been an idiot. From all the comments from my friends and well wishers, it would appear that I was the only one confident that I was not going back to work. For money or otherwise.

    And yet, somehow, I ran into yet another great team. Who has been more than accepting and welcoming of a leader whose self admitted strength lies in his ignorance and unabashedly trying to make a case that the other side might be right.

    The span of six weeks has been a blur. Work has been exhilarating. Even more adventurous has been trying to settle down to a new routine. The daily walk to the local bars with Sharmila and dog – regardless of how late it is – has become an article of faith. Joining my running group again to force myself to get back into running first thing in the morning has revived many an endorphin that had escaped me for years.

    Motorbiking and boating has entered the “must do” domain of every weekend. Heck, even started canoeing – to add more complexity to the routine.

    The regrettable costs emerging include not having the flexibility to see the two girls in New York and DC whenever I want. And my social time with Atlanta friends has been dramatically reduced. As has the time I could spend helping friends professionally – finding jobs, making new connections, offering help in resume feedback or management decisions they were struggling with.

    Ah! Well!! In another attempt to balance the old with the new. Sharmila and I are headed to yet another island to take in the beautiful beaches and the cerulean waters for the long weekend.

    Watching the fiery western sky thru the airplane window, I am moved to conclude that … sunsets are a beautiful thing to reflect upon as you steadily march towards them…

  2. Curacao – second attempt Sep 1, 2023

    Our original adventure into this island a mere 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela was slated for April 2020. With Nikita and her friend Shreya. Well, the pandemic put paid to those plans. Three and a half years later, both the girls are in their colleges away from home. So, it is just Sharmila and myself this time…

  3. Leaving the shores of US Sep 1, 2023

    Over Dodge Island and Fisher Island

  4. That is an island someday I want to visit – Bimini Sep 1, 2023

    Heard great stories about the water colors and beaches there. You can see the colors – from near purple to almost white. Those vast swathes of white in the middle of the picture is actually the sand on the ocean bed – seen thru near clear waters!

  5. Like a big bonefish in the ocean Sep 1, 2023

    We are now crossing the Bahamas

  6. The Exuma Islands Sep 1, 2023

  7. Hundreds of cays like these mark the northern boundary of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea Sep 1, 2023

  8. Another island in my bucket list Sep 1, 2023

    Inagua Islands. Excellent beaches and incredible waters. And like the island of Eleuthera in the north, relatively not overrun by tourists.

  9. That’s Haiti below us Sep 1, 2023

    …and the Tortuga Island… one of the original spots where Columbus landed!

  10. The city of Gonaives in Haiti Sep 1, 2023

    We cannot see Port au Prince from this side of the plane. The other side might be able to see it.

  11. Two countries. One island. Sep 1, 2023

    The lake nearer to us (Lake Azuei) is in Haiti. The lake next to it and further away from us (Lake Enriquillo) is in Dominican Republic. And the international boundary runs thru the narrow strip between them.

    You can see an island (Isla Cabritos) in the center of the picture. That would be an island in a lake in an island in a sea!

  12. Leaving the airspace of the Dominican Republic Sep 1, 2023

    This is the west side of DR – not very touristy. Now we will get into the part of the Caribbean Sea that has deep trenches. Not likely to see any landmass till we reach our destination.

  13. Guess what those islands are Sep 1, 2023

    Remember I said we will be in the deep trenches of the Caribbean Sea after leaving the Dominical Republic? But you can see those seemingly large islands in the middle of the sea. Those are no islands. They are humongous masses of algae (sargassum – commonly known as seaweed) that originate from Sargasso Sea (only sea that is completely surrounded by water) and come westwards.

    They mess up the beaches in Florida, Bahamas and Mexico. While in the sea, it is not that dangerous, but once on the shore, they are fairly toxic to human beings. Plus you cannot enjoy the beach or get into the water.

    I hate ’em!

  14. There is the island we are targeting – Curacao! Sep 1, 2023

    First time I had heard the name was during some mixology classes. This island is famous for a orange liqueur they make. It is made from a special kind of orange found in the island. The more common version you will see in bars is the blue colored one – but that is not the original one. They add some color to get that sky blue color.

  15. I wonder if I can make it there Sep 1, 2023

    We swung back into the waters and then banked left to cross into the island from the south side. We will make it to the airport which is on the north. Just as we crossed into the island, I could see this great beach (near the center of the picture). There seems to be vast expanse of cerulean waters. the approach seems to be dirt road. I am going to scan the south coast on Google maps and see if I can spot that particular place and go there.

    It would be an Aqaba kind of moment. While on a trip to India, I had shown Sharmila the town of Aqaba and its beaches as we flew south of Israel and Jordan. Months later, we actually went there and checked out the sky from where we would have looked down to the spot we were standing!

  16. Airport #159 Sep 1, 2023

  17. First things first Sep 1, 2023

    Threw the suitcases in the room and immediately hit the beach bar for some island drinks! Check out the water color!

  18. Queen Emma Bridge Sep 1, 2023

    We were lucky to see this bridge floating on pontoons actually swing open (like a door swings open) to let boats go thru! It was something of a sight. Interestingly enough, this was toll bridge early part of previous century. There was one way to avoid paying toll… if you walked without your shoes!! (I am not kidding!)

  19. View from the other side of the bridge Sep 1, 2023

  20. Found a rooftop Indian restaurant! Sep 1, 2023

    Don’t know what it is with these Caribbean islands… they have some really great Indian restaurants. Remember the one in Turks and Caicos and the other one in Nevis?

  21. Not too shabby a view to have the morning cappuccino with! Sep 2, 2023

  22. Because she felt the color blue was missing from the general ambience Sep 2, 2023

  23. My breakfast buddy Sep 2, 2023

  24. Deep in her thoughts… Sep 2, 2023

  25. Island life beckons me Sep 2, 2023

    There is something about island life – the toughness and grit it calls for, the “it will happen when it happens” island time, happiness and poverty co-existing (almost a required condition)… it just appeals to me at a level nothing ever does.

    My dream would be to open up a bar by the beach in one of the islands a few years before I die. I know it will be a tough adjustment – but there is always the alcohol to forget it and the knowledge that it is a finite journey.

    Now, if only I could figure out when I am going to die…

  26. Every Bengali worth his/her salt will remember this poem upon seeing this picture Sep 2, 2023

    One of the first Tagore poems my late dad had taught me…

    তালগাছ এক পায়ে দাঁড়িয়ে
    সব গাছ ছাড়িয়ে
    উঁকি মারে আকাশে।
    মনে সাধ, কালো মেঘ ফুঁড়ে যায়,
    একেবারে উড়ে যায়
    কোথা পাবে পাখা সে?

  27. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object! Sep 2, 2023

  28. Histrionics before quenching thirst! Sep 2, 2023

    Felipe pretends to stab the green coconut he opened up for Sharmila with a straw!!! This was in Playa Grandi!

  29. Swimming with the turtles! Sep 2, 2023

    A unique experience in Playa Grandi. Many turtles like this simply hung around with us and swum around…

  30. Another first!! Sep 2, 2023

    I have never seen stones like this in any other island. Including the neighboring Aruba. But this is present all over Curacao. The stones on the beach are all near cylindrical in shape. Like the rocks were rolled around by the waves instead of randomly thrown around. Does anybody know why and when this happens?

  31. Finally she brings some contrast to the ever present azure Sep 2, 2023

  32. The drive reminded us of another island… Eleuthera! Sep 2, 2023

  33. Made it to the spot that I saw from the plane Sep 2, 2023

    Remember that beach and vast expanse of sky blue water that I had spotted from the airplane? After searching the maps, I was finally able to locate the beach – Playa Cas Abao. The approach had some rough dirt roads. I am glad that I had rented a Jeep.

    Here we are. The water is as beautiful as it could be!

  34. Cas Abao Beach Sep 2, 2023

    Dead coral cliffs right next to gorgeous waters

  35. That is really, really clear water Sep 2, 2023

    Other than the slight waves, one would think I was taking the picture of the corals out in the open. In reality they are lying at the bottom of the sea bed and I am in the water taking the pictures with my iPhone thru about 4.5 feet of water!

  36. Sunset in Willemstad Sep 2, 2023

    Enough of blue colors. Now for some red and orange!!

  37. This is like Amsterdam… except with colors! Sep 2, 2023

    The colorful buildings reminded us of Burano in Italy, Valladolid in Mexico and the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean.

  38. Finally doing some justice to Curacao! Sep 2, 2023

    A Curacao drink in Curacao (or as they say in Papiamento – Kòrsou)

  39. The swinging bridge! Sep 2, 2023

    We were enjoying a cocktail by the water when the bridge started swinging open!! The sequence of pictures here is when it was closing back up again. It is an incredible sight to see the whole bridge swing on one end completely to let ships go by and then close up again!

  40. Flamingos in the wild Sep 3, 2023

    Yesterday, we went to check a place that was reputed to be the haunt of wild flamingos. Except, we found none. Today, we woke up and made an early morning foray to the same spot. This time we succeeded!

    Those wild flamingos were busy eating something from the salt pans in Jan Kok. Did not seem to mind human beings near them.

  41. For my Indian friends Sep 3, 2023

    This morning, Sharmila and I were strolling around in Otrobanda in Willemstad, when we saw this hoarding giving details of the building coming up behind it. Check out the insurance company. My gut reaction was that it is a local company deriving the word India from the Indies. Then I saw the map. In Curacao?? Wow!!

  42. Gotta love the colors Sep 3, 2023

    It is like the painter bought his supplies from Costco. You know, you have to buy a big pallet of at least six colors…

  43. Can you spot her? Sep 3, 2023

  44. The curious bird Sep 3, 2023

    It kept coming back to the window and wanting to go in. You think it was looking for some AC?

  45. Bird’s eye view of Playa Porto Marie Sep 3, 2023

    Another beautiful beach. Picture taken from a watch tower nearby.

  46. Trupials galore Sep 3, 2023

    Love how one of the birds (near center) seemed to be hovering over the table…

  47. I know I say this with every Caribbean island I go to… Sep 3, 2023

    … but those blue colors… aren’t they just incredible?

  48. There was only one way of dealing with the heat Sep 3, 2023

    Get in the water!

  49. Hitting Mambo Beach Sep 3, 2023

    This is the fifth beach this trip. There is something very interesting about this beach. There is a set of rocks running parallel and close to the shoreline and the water in between is so aquamarine blue that you can be tricked into thinking that it is a big swimming pool!!

  50. Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican! Sep 3, 2023

    This from Ogden Nash…

    Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
    His beak holds more than his belican.
    He takes in his beak
    Food enough for a week.
    But I’ll be darned if I know how the helican.

  51. At the Wet and Wild Beach Club Sep 3, 2023

  52. A flytrap and a converstation starter Sep 3, 2023

    When we sat down at De Visserij Piscadera for dinner we noticed these small plastic bags seemingly filled with water hanging from the ceiling all over. The ordering of food itself was interesting. We stood in a long queue for 40 minutes and when our turn came, Sharmila pointed out the fish she wanted from the display. They took the raw fish and sent in for cooking. I paid and then we sat down at a table by the waterfront. It was then that my attention went to those bags.

    What would they be for? My first guess was to keep the birds away. What I could not figure out is why would the birds be afraid of bags filled with water? Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me. I flagged down the gentleman who was seating everybody at their tables and asked him what was going on with the bags.

    “It is to keep the flies away,” he explained!
    “Flies? How?”
    “Well, the inflated bag acts as a mirror. When the fly sees a bigger fly, it gets scared.”
    “Ah! Clever!!”

    He went away. The couple sitting next to us excitedly said – “We have been discussing this for some time. We were thinking they were for birds. Thank you for asking.”

    We chatted for some time – thoroughly convinced about how convex mirrors work and how ingenuous the idea was.

    Our friends from the next table left after some time. Sharmila’s food came. I started sipping my wine.

    And then it struck me!

    “Wait! That makes no sense. If the fly can see a bigger fly in the bag, I should be able to see my image too. That does not happen. It is not a mirror. It is a lens. A convex lens. You can see what is on the other side magnified. You will never see yourself.”

    Sharmila level of interest was inversely proportional to the quality of the red snapper she was enjoying. She added some more spicy sauce to her fish desultorily.

    I was getting more and more excited realizing the flaw in my reasoning before. She did her usual throwing of cold water on my excitement…

    “Stop using logic for everything”.

    Somewhat dimmed in my enthusiasm, I decided to quietly Google this.

    Guess what? This is a fairly common practice in lots of places – including India. Sometimes they put a coin in the bag.

    However, experts are unequivocal in their opinion – this has nothing to do with keeping away flies. There are some plausible theories around refraction one can stand up but all evidence points to no effect whatsoever.

    I thought of letting the gentleman know about this on my way out.

    Then thought the better of it. If not anything else, it is a great conversation starter for customers!!

  53. The curtains are closing in on us Sep 4, 2023

    The trip to this beautiful island is unfortunately coming to its inevitable end

  54. One last local cocktail for both of us before we leave the island Sep 4, 2023

    Hers is with the Curacao Orange Liqueur (blue color) and mine is with Curacao Tamarind Liqueur (brown color).

  55. There comes our chariot to take us away from this slice of paradise Sep 4, 2023