We often think back with rosy memories on places we’ve lived, and none more so than Curacao, which I remember with great romance and longing. But the truth is we were over it when we left. With a generous list of grievances, we packed our bags after our house was burgled for the third time in a month.
Upon returning a few weeks ago, I again held the fantasy of a life spent near the sea, restoring my landhuis and tending to my herd of goats, but unfortunately, the reasons we left are still very much reasons we might not return – in fact, it has gotten worse. The hotel where Carsten and I met had closed and was promptly looted and destroyed, stripped of every last usable item. The usual tales of robberies seem to have taken a violent turn: several people even described being held at gunpoint in their own homes!
Our good friend, a local Antillean whose family has lived on Curacao for generations, described an extreme love-hate relationship with his island home. On the one hand, he is saddened and enraged by the laziness and lack of motivation that leads to these crimes – he himself suspects his house sitters of stealing his boat and is worried daily that someone will steal his sheep. On the other hand, though having traveled the world, he admits that he returns to Curacao because it is the one place he feels he feels he has “complete freedom.”
It’s true – Curacao is a lawless place. I don’t mean this literally – of course there are laws – but you get the distinct feeling that the shady character enjoying his cocktail at the bar is wanted in another place and left alone in this one. It’s a place where you can drive into oncoming traffic, not wear a seatbelt, and have a beer in one hand when you pick up your rental car. Where you can visit the largest brothel in the Caribbean, play loud music until all hours of the night, smoke whatever you choose. With the U.S. being increasingly over-policed and over-regulated, it is refreshing to to have no one give a crap what you do.
But here’s my question: Is it really freedom if you are scared to leave your house without bars on the windows and glass on the walls and dogs in the yard, for fear of what your neighbors might do? I’d love to hear your thoughts.