Tag Archives: Curacao

Bailey goes for a snorkel

Just a short note. We’ve taken Bailey to several places around the island, some loved her, some threw her out!

We went to a what was billed as a community market in the town of Barber. It is on Sunday, in the morning. It supposed to have plants, and crafts and fresh vegetables, and some stalls that sell food. Well, it’s not that. It’s basically a gathering of the town, with about 20ish booths. 17 sell food. One sells plants, one sells “crafts” and one sells a couple kinds of vegetables.

We were surprised to see kids screaming in fear of Bailey. Their mother was not impressed and tried to get the kids to appreciate a friendly dog, without much success. Every time Bailey turned her head, the kids ran screaming. An older woman confronted us and angrily demanded we get out. Dogs are not welcome here she angrily chastised us.

Bailey swimsWe take her with us to our daily WIFI ritual at the golf course, and she’s a star there. Everyone fawns over her, putting ice cubes in her water dish. The staff adore her, know her name, come over and pet her as soon as they see her. She just loves the attention.

She also loves to go in the ocean. She would always try to get in the Fraser River back in Vancouver, but only a few spots were actually good for her to enter. The cleanliness of the water is not that great on the Fraser sometimes, with al the industrial work. But here – Blue Bay is a great spot for her. The water is always gorgeous and blue. On the 11th of August we took her for a snorkel! Here’s a short movie to show what we mean!

Ascension Day

The SS Minnow?Well who knew? Today we had decided we’d tour around downtown, maybe do a little shopping. Imagine our surprise when NOTHING was open – not even bars and restaurants! It was an official holiday called Ascension Day, and everyone was at the beach! Except us of course, we were looking for a store to go into! How about this picture of a boat on Santa Barbara bay? Not a great parking job!

Porcupine hiding So, we went with plan B and jumped in the ocean at Caracasbaii again. It was fun, lots to see, good visibility. One of the highlights for me was this porcupine fish – they are pretty shy fish, and this guy, he’s “hiding” behind this little piece of coral, keeping one eye on us! Made me laugh.

Lobster!Sometimes when you dive down to see a fish, you get a surprise, seeing something you had not seen from the surface. This lobster was a surprise sighting. He was under the wreck, looking good enough for some butter!
Spotted DrumWith no restaurants open, it’s a good thing we had bought some stuff for dinner yesterday. Naturally, all the grocery stores were closed too.¬†One of the cool things about Curacao (well most Caribbean islands) is the mixture of European, African and Asian cuisine.¬†So we had a nice “Dutch-African” meal of chicken, red cabbage, snow peas, and a spicy dahl. Blue damselWe’ve also discovered a place quite near us that serves Keshi Yena, so we’re going to give them a try on Friday, our last full day here in Curacao.

We’ve had a nice time here, but it’s not been the balm I hoped it would be… still thinking a lot of Max. There are a lot of stray dogs here, and Pam always buys a box of dog biscuits. As we’re driving along, if we see a dog on the side of the road we pull over and feed them a few biscuits.

Flights and arrivals

The channel at the Royal Sea AquariumWell, we’re on the move again. Pam and I left Vancouver on Friday, and flew to Chicago. It was on an Airbus, a great plane, that’d I take over just about any Boeing. The seats are wider, there is more leg room, and the flight crew was really terrific. The flight was uneventful, but landing in Chicago we discovered rain and fog had delayed our connecting flight to New Jersey’s Newark Airport.

Chicago’s airport, at least the United terminal, is a tired worn out old boat. There are simply not enough seats for people waiting for their flights, and the place look really drab. However, we each got a great salad from a restaurant called Mediterranean Tampenade. Nice fresh food, terrific fresh crab, tasty chicken salad – really nice food. Could be the best airport food we’ve ever had.

The delay in Chicago wasn’t a big deal, but we got stuck in a little Boeing plane, with narrow seats, no legroom and because the flight was jammed, no place to put our carry on but under our seat. Luckily it’s a short flight, and we managed to make it quite quickly, in well under two hours.

Cool bird Newark is a nicer airport, roomy with comfortable seats, but it does not have free wifi, and no way will I pay eight bucks for the couple of hours we were there. Our flight into Bonaire was delayed for over an hour. Then we boarded the plane, and two people who had checked baggage did not board the plane, so there was a further delay waiting for their luggage to be removed. We left one hour and forty five minutes late, arriving in Bonaire just 20 minutes before our flight was scheduled to leave for Curacao. Which meant we’d miss it, since we had to pick up our baggage and go through security again! sigh…

So while I tried to find our baggage, Pam went to the DAE checkin and got them to hold the plane until we came. They told us we had to come now, or miss it – so we left our luggage in Bonaire, but DAE told us they’d send it on to Curacao. So here I am in Curacao without luggage¬†again!

We tried a new way to get a rental car – a process complicated by the fact they aren’t allowed on the airport grounds to disperse cars or pick up clients. It went surprisingly well, and we saved over 100 bucks for the rental. It’s a nice enough car, complete with all insurances. Our luggage showed up at 11:30 am, so we were able to grab it from the airport. Ah well… the joys of travel!

While walking back from parking our car at the Royal Sea Aquarium, we saw a smaller spotted eagle ray, right from the bridge! Have only seen one of those before, and that really briefly with Mike.

Group of fishSo even though we were pretty tired we went and got our suits on and jumped in! We just puddled around, enjoying being back in the ocean, with all our scaly friends.¬†First day pictures are rather poor, so not much to show you. I will say though that the breakwater has really developed! Just tons of interesting things to see and lots of coral growth. It’s definitely looking good!

Various types of CoralI’ve included a brief movie of the eagle ray – give it a few seconds and he approaches very closely to where we’re standing. We didn’t see him when we got into the water, but one of the staff here said that the ray has become a resident here, so we’re hoping to catch him in the water on another swim.

Oh – our room is pretty terrific – it’s on the third floor and looks right out over the dolphin pool! We’ll have a picture or two of that over the next few days I’m sure!

(I’m posting this and heading to bed – so if the movie is not there – patience, as I was going to bed, it said there was 10 more minutes to go…)

 

We made it

Just a quick post this Saturday¬†morning. We had a good trip down. The flight from Seattle to Miami was delayed over an hour because the plane didn’t arrive from its previous destination because of winds, but they aided us in our flight! We arrived in Miami just a little late, but no worries for us since we had a four hour layover anyway.

The landing sequence into Miami is very impressive. The plane arcs over the ocean and you get long sweeping views of miles of coastline spotted with soaring towers and wonderful little islands with lovely homes. Sailboats dot the waters, and speedboats leave long wake trails as they speed along the coastline. Large fishing boats, and immense tankers lumber along. And wide highways carry cars and trucks across arching bridges. Quite the impressive sight!
Wheelchair planeWhen we landed, Miami airport is very nice. Wonderful shops, great restaurants and lots of art line every corridor. I’ve put up one photo of a plane, with a wheelchair for the pilot! Cute!

The flight to Curacao was short, under three hours and uneventful. There was a long line at the car rental though and we didn’t get here to the resort until nearly 5:30. So a long travel day to start the vacation. We went to dinner at the little rib shack that we’ve been to before. It was nice.

We slept a long time! Nearly 13 hours, so we’re about to get in the ocean for the first time. Talk later!

Caracasbaii and Royal Sea Aquarium

Flying gurnardToday we headed just south of our hotel and snorkeled at Caracasbaii. Pam and I have snorkeled here before, and it’s kind of cool. There is a submerged tugboat, and it’s a very close to shore. You can park within five feet of the beach, and just walk right into the water. It’s a nice sandy entry, very level. The ocean was calm and warm, and really clear – the visibility was astonishing! As soon as our faces hit the water, we saw a flying gurnard, only the second one I’ve ever seen in the wild. Quite a cool sight!

WreckThe wreck is not very deep and it is covered with coral, Christmas tree worms, and fish! We saw a couple of moray eels hiding near the top, close enough you could reach down and touch him. The Hull is filled with lots of schooling fish.

We saw all the usual suspects, parrot fish, chubbs,¬†sergeant¬†majors, trumpetfish, filefish, wrasses, morays… And being so shallow you can can really see everything up close! It’s really a great place to snorkel. I’d say it is on a par with the Royal Sea Aquarium, but for different reasons.

Bluehead wrasse The bluehead wrasse is a quick, darting fish, that is difficult to photograph. Seems every time you point the camera at him he darts quickly away. I’ve included this photo because somehow I managed to nail him! Shocking!

Gold morayWe saw several morays, but this gold colored fellow was only about 3 feet from the surface of the water. He kept his eye on us, and would retreat into his little cave if we got too close with the camera.

Red guyAnother fish we have trouble getting a picture of is this red colored guy. I’m not sure what is name is, but he’s very shy, and usually hides under rock, shelves or pieces of wreck. He only came out into “the light” because he was chasing another fish and I happened to be there with the camera turned on.

I have purchased an underwater housing for the camera this year and I’m quite disappointed with it. It bulky, cumbersome and heavy. It’s awkward to use the zoom button, and every operation requires both hands.Nudibranch It’s impossible to dive down, and use one hand to take a picture, so I’m not getting the shots I want. I would not recommend you get this housing if you’re a snorkeler. It’s also impossible to use any of the special feature buttons, like macro mode. And turning on the film mode, is hit or miss at best.

Queen angel For the afternoon swim we headed back to the Royal Sea Aquarium. It was just terrific again. The highlight was seeing the largest green moray eel I’ve ever seen! Mike said he was big as a house, but I think he exaggerated, he was as big as a small apartment! The pictures we took of him do not do him justice, but I’ve added a movie at the end of the post… pretty impressive beasty.

We saw another queen angel, and she was very large too! We’ve seen some impressive examples of this fish so far, but this beauty is the best so far.

PorcupineWe spotted a porcupine fish, another shy fish. They hide in small caves, under ledges, or wherever they think you can’t see them. It’s difficult to get a good shot, because you always have to dive down to get the shot, and as I mentioned, this housing has made those shots even more problematic for me. But here is a funny one of him – it looks like we’ve photoshopped some white teeth on to him, but no, this is really the shot!

Enjoy the movie!

Curacao in 2011

FortWell, here I am in Curacao again, but this time Mike is with me. Pam has stayed home recuperating, while I cavort with the fishes. The flight down was in three stages, first to San Francisco, then to Newark, New Jersey, then into Curacao. The flight to San Francisco was on a Airbus, and it was a terrific flight. Nice wide seats, lots of leg room. Going into Newark was not fun. We paid extra to get more legroom, but the seats were narrower, and the trade off is that you don’t get to recline the seats! It was a rough flight. The flight into Curacao was almost empty, so we had a row to ourselves! We managed to get in some sleep time.

Fort view Unfortunately, our luggage only made it to New Jersey! Can you imagine? The woman at YVR gave us all our boarding passes to Curacao, then tagged our bags to New Jersey! Sigh… Not a great start. 90 degree weather, long pants, wool shirt, sneakers – not the way to dress! We had to buy a pair of shorts each. They said it was possible we’d get our luggage on Sunday, but maybe Wednesday. When we got to the resort to check in, they told us that Continental had called and our luggage would be in by 1 pm on Sunday. At 5 pm, the office called and said our luggage was in, but did we want them to deliver it (as they had promised) or did we “want” to go pick it up. I figured, if we didn’t go get it, we wouldn’t see it for a couple more days.
CannonsWe drove to the airport, and tried to get the luggage, but they told us the offices were closed. I asked a security guard to call and got voice mail, that was full. He said go ask the security guard down at arrivals. We do. He says, go ask the security guard down at departures! Another fellow says, call this number – we do – voice mail full. The guy says, well the office is closed what do you expect? I said, they just called us to come get it! He says, ok just wait here, and maybe she’ll bring it out! haha Anyway, I found the Continental cell phone number, not the local mail box that was full, and he called. She came out in two minutes!

Queen angelfish We spent Sunday just checking out Curacao. We drove down to Caracasbaii, a place we snorkeled last year, and had a great time. We climbed up to an old fort, and checked out the view. They have built into the ocean, and built some apartment buildings on the land they have built.

We had dinner at Il Forno’s, a brick oven pizzeria. You eat outside, under the stars, and it’s very good. The pizza has a thin crust, and it was cooked perfectly. We had desert of profiteroles and tiramisu, and both were very good. The service was good, but a little slow after dinner was over, and we just wanted our bill! We didn’t get to snorkel, but it was an ok first day.

Scrawled FilefishWe snorkeled this morning, Monday, at the Royal Sea Aquarium, and it was spectacular! The ocean was flat as a pancake, no waves, and the water was super clear. We saw just tons of fish, and moray eels, and all sorts of things. I’ve posted three movies on youtube, and I’ve attached them to the end of this post.

MorayThis first one is mainly of black durgons, a type of triggerfish. Note the size of the coral around them! This site by the Royal Sea Aquarium is one of the best snorkeling sites on the island!

This next video is of doctor and surgeon fish. They hang around together in a big school, and several kinds of fish try to hide out with them. Note the big trumpetfish, the long skinny fish, trying to pretend he’s one of the crowd!

This final video is of a bunch of fish. Near the end of the video is a scrawled file fish. He’s kind of yellowish with blue/green spots and the odd shape.

Sunset The unit we’re in has a great view of the ocean, and the sunset each night. Last night there was even TWO rainbows! We saw a pair of rays swimming out on the ocean too. The water was glassy smooth, and we could see them cavorting about 100 meters off shore.

The shot of the sunset is taken through the side of our balcony. We’re on the second floor. Kind of cool I think.