Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have done the ATV tour here on Curacao (Eric’s ATV Adventures), and apparently, they got just as dirty as I did (pic below). Join me on a little photo journey across the landscape of this beautiful, 171.4 square mile island off the coast of Venezuela and then a trek through the magnificent architecture of the city center.
Actually, the first thing I did after breakfast today was take a site tour of the Curacao Marriott, but I published pics from all over the resort yesterday (All Around the Curacao Marriott – Drinking Swings and No Cedillas). One thing I hadn’t seen before was this:
It doesn’t look like much now, but it’s actually the new kosher kitchen, a $100,000 project the hotel will be completing this fall. There are about 200 400 Jewish people on the island, and no kosher event spaces. So, in case you didn’t think you could get kosher in the Caribbean, here you go. There’s also a $1.1 million renovation happening in the casino, but no one ever lets you photograph the casino.
Next! Eric himself from Eric’s ATV Adventures picked me up for the ATV tour of Curacao. My guide, Angel, said I looked like a policeman with my helmet and Maui Jim aviators.
First, we drove around the hills to get the feel for our vehicles. I learned two things: 1. horseback riding makes you better at riding an ATV, because when you’re off-roading, it feels basically like trying to keep your seat on a wily horse, and 2. I know why I burned my leg on that tailpipe years ago.
A-many-years-ago, I was dating this guy with a motorcycle. I had shown up for our date in a dress but couldn’t say no to a ride! With no leg covering and no experience, I ended up with a serious burn on my leg from the tailpipe. The scar was there for years.
Now, I’m getting married in under a month, and low and behold, the side of my ATV was getting hot — and I knew to move my leg. If I hadn’t moved it, I would surely have ended up with a huge burn, causing me to limp down the aisle and horrify guests during the garter toss. Back then, as I nursed my hideous wound and had to forswear shorts and dresses for the whole summer, I kept trying to believe that “these things happen for a reason.” Well, Jennifer Jason Leigh, I just found my reason.
A couple more things you should know about driving/riding an ATV: wear sunglasses, like you would on a motorcycle. You don’t want to get sand or bugs in your eyes, and they go fast. I am told that Tom Cruise exhibited a “crazy need for speed.” Also, you will get so dirty you won’t believe it, so dress accordingly. Also, never operate one if you happen to find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being under 16.
Ahem. One of our first stops on the tour was the Aloe Vera Farm. When I saw all the aloe plants from far away, I confess to thinking “Oh my gosh, are we at a tequila distillery? It’s like 9 AM!!” I thought the aloe was agave. It wasn’t. Darn. Whew!
They had aloe products that could give Bubba Gump some shrimp ideas.
After that, we passed the ostrich farm, as it is closed on Mondays. This was unquestionably the saddest part of my day. Still, when the saddest part of your day is that you didn’t get to see ostriches, that’s still a pretty good day. We headed to the bat cave.
What? Yes. We went spelunking in the hills. I got to the cave first and poked my head in, and it was like bat-mageddon in there. I was stunned. “Are those … bats?” I asked Angel. “No, no, he said.” In my shock, I believed him, and took a step in, thinking they were maybe just birds. They all started flying around like, well, bats, and I stared like a deer in headlights. “Yeah, no, those are bats,” said Angel as he walked in with the rest of our group.
I managed to overcome my fear with the desire for awesome photos. I tried my best to get a great picture of a bat. Unfortunately, the only bat shots I got were blurs. I did get some really nice ones of the cave, though:
We went through the cave and climbed to the top of the hill for a fabulous vista.
We covered so much beautiful landscape after this point that I’m saving it for another post when I get back. Here are some sneak previews:
This is a quiet bay across from the motorbike course where they do a lot of kiteboarding and windsurfing.
The coral shores of Curacao.
A view of the island and the tabletop mountains in the distance.
After all that scenery (and lots of off-roading through sand and dirt), here’s what I looked like:
Not my fault, guys. Not my fault.
After a shower and a dip in the ocean, I decided to head into town.
The free shuttle from the Marriott runs twice per day and drops you off for four hours right at the harbor. Here’s what you’re looking at when you step off the bus. … I know, right?
The bridge which leads to the shopping area has a number of names; The Queen Emma Bridge, The Floating Bridge, The Swinging Bridge, and one local told me they call it The Swinging Old Lady (because it swings, and it’s named after the queen — it was a joke that stuck). The bridge, which floats on pontoons, is motorized and actually swings open to allow ships to pass. I managed to catch a video of that, but it’s really boring.
I spent hours wandering the streets on both sides of the bridge, and after such an active morning and all the walking, deemed myself pooped after about three hours. I headed into Rif Fort, a 19th century fort which has been converted into a Renaissance Hotel and a bunch of shops and restaurants.
I went to a place called Chihuahua’s where they serve cocktails out of bags and lots of Chihuahua tequila (which is Mexican). Also, these crazy masks stare down at you while you sit at the bar:
“Driiiiiink, DRIIIIIIINNKKKK” they say.
I took the shuttle back to the Marriott to have dinner with a hotel rep at Portofino. They had a choose-your-own-pasta stand like they do with omelets at breakfast.
Every night has a theme at Portofino, and it was Italian Night. <shrug> Okay.
I bet Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes choose their own pasta all the time.
Then it was off to the hot tub for me, and then to photo editing and bed. I’m looking forward to another day of Curacao magic!
This trip was sponsored by the Curacao Marriott.