My birthday present from my boyfriend this year was a trip to Curacao, the Caribbean island where we met 5 years ago. Needless to say it holds a lot of memories for both of us, especially for Carsten as he lived there for 13 years before I arrived, and in many ways it felt like returning home. The interesting thing about visiting a familiar place only once every few years is it allows you to see the changes so clearly. Developments have come and gone, as have friends, but thankfully much of the energy of Curacao has remained the same.
Carsten being a diver and boat captain on an island that relies heavily on tourism from the dive industry, the invasion of lion fish was the biggest shock for him. Five years ago these dreaded (if beautiful) fish were nowhere to be found in Antillean waters, but they quickly made their way down the Caribbean island chain and now pose a huge threat to the reefs in Curacao. An invasive species and aggressive predator, lion fish reproduce rapidly and have no natural predators in the area. The Curacaoan government has responded by making it legal to spearfish the creatures, which so far has proved to be a successful initiative as the fish are surprisingly tasty and, despite their abundance, command a high market price. We dined on grilled lion fish everyday on the patio under the stars.
It was surprising to hear that the over-developed beach bar/ restaurant/ lounge area known as Mambo Beach is no more – where will the Dutch interns go now? – but thank god the Wet & Wild Beach Club has remained alive and kicking (dancing?). Every Sunday the entire island shows up in their beach gear, buys a towers worth of Polar beer during happy hour, and dances in the sand through the night. Amsterdam-trained DJs spin the best of euro trance, salsa, and reggaeton at what truly is the best party on the planet. Heaven!