Mélange Travel & Lifestyle Magazine July 2016 - Page 76

Curacao | Mélange Travel & Lifestyle Magazine

by Madeline List
When travelers think
of Curacao a singular
image often springs
forth: a pastel palette
of Dutch style buildings lining a
rich slice of Caribbean shore. This
charming scene can be found on the
waterfront in Willemstad, part of the
island’s largest city. Zoom out and
the island is full of unanticipated
surprises, with even more to offer
than that well-deserving, postcardperfect block.
With recent efforts to expand
tourism, new museums and hotels
have been popping up and new
visitors have been crossing to the

southern side of the Caribbean to
discover the natural splendor as well
as the marriage of Dutch, Spanish,
and native cultures. Unpacking
Curacao’s culture, scenery, and cities,
the destination is full of experiences
that are just as diverse as the hues of
that bright colonial neighborhood.
There is much speculation and
debate regarding how the island
first earned its name. Some say that
it comes from the Portuguese word
for “healing” after sailors who were
left on the island made a spectacular
recovery there from scurvy. Others
say it’s derived from the Portuguese
word for “heart”, since it once served
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as a heart of trade in the Caribbean.
Following the arrival of the
Europeans, Curacao’s shrub lands
and aquamarine beaches witnessed
many incredible highs and lows.
The island was a thriving center of
commerce in the region but also a
hotbed of piracy. It provided refuge
for Jews who fled from the Spanish
inquisition, but also housed a highvolume slave trade market.
Today, visitors can trace the island’s
history walking the streets of the
UNESCO World Heritage Site
of historic Willemstad. They can
explore the Rif Fort, built to protect