Dushi Curaçao

Relax. “Dushi” means sweet in Papimiento… ya’ pessimists. People there use it as a term of endearment like “sweetie.”

I’m so sorry for how cliché this is but this year, (cue valley-girl high-pitch voice… or Miami super chonga voice with thick brows and a Michael Kors bag [ie my regular voice]) I decided I was going to say yes to everything (except men). Curaçao has been my favorite yes so far.

My best friend is from the small Dutch Caribbean island and asked me if I would like to join her & her boyfriend for a visit. I bought the ticket before she did.

view of Curacao from airplace

Only slightly over 171 sq miles, we were able to see the whole thing from the plane. We glided onto the run away alongside deep blue waters. The airport was muggy. Mitzi warned us that most places on the island lacked a/c but I assumed a large commercial building such as an airport would not fall into that category. As a cold-blooded (yet loving) human-being this was of no concern to me…just surprising.

outside curaçao international airport

Luckily our rental car did have air conditioning. We drove about 30 minutes to Mitzi’s house and settled into our rooms. 

& discussed food

Obvio.

This lead us to Van Den Tweel. The local supermarket. Mitzi’s boyfriend, Ralph, and I wandered up and down the aisles looking for weird things to try. Mitzi proudly translated foreign words for us. Everyone on the island somewhat knows four languages (Papiamento, Dutch, English, and Spanish) and use them all interchangeably and sometimes all in the same sentence.-yet she complains when I use “jaja” instead of “haha”

Apparently they eat a lot of cheese here.

Cheese wheels

So I felt right at home.

Oh, do you not know of my cheese obsession?… well now you do.

cheese wheels

In true first-world fashion, we arrived home from the grocery, had 0 interest in cooking, and went to Mitzi’s favorite restaurant, Texas Alaparia.

There I tried funchi, a local staple. Funchi is the love child of polenta and arepas… its crispy yet soft and goes perfectly with shredded gouda. It was our appetizer before a huge plate of barbecued meats, fries, and pinda sauce… which is peanut sauce… No, not like the Asian peanut sauce… it is Dutch and tastes like salty, liquid peanut butter. Mitzi, Ralph and the whole Halley clan love it… but I just couldn’t hop on the band wagon. No matter how many times I tried it (which was daily because I’m a trooper). I don’t have a picture of it but just microwave a scoop of peanut butter with some water and you’ll get the full experience. 

Early Owl Gets the Mango

I’m an early owl (& if that’s not a thing it should be). I can stay out late and still be up with the sun in the morning. Mitzi, on the other hand, threatened me with death against waking her up before 9 am. So every morning I would quietly let myself out the front Dutch doors and better acquaint myself with the neighborhood. It was easy killing time in this small pocket of heaven, lush with flowers, mangos, and cats.

One morning, Mitzi’s father (who I affectionately call PapaMitzi) gave me a private tour of the area. He pridefully showed me all the work he has done in the neighborhood, named all the fruit trees as we passed them (most of which he had planted himself), and detailed all his plans for the future.

Cuban Coffee ingredients

I was always either too early or came back from my walk too late to eat breakfast with anyone – but I enjoyed it just the same… watching me eat mangos isn’t pretty anyway. 

This set up was usually laid out waiting for me. 

Curacao Pictures

We spent a whole day planning out our week. So while Mitzi negotiated with people in Papiamento, I ran around and took pictures. 

yellow submarine on land

funny beer diving sign

Punda

Downtown Curaçao is split into Punda and Otrobanda. Two mini cities connected by a colorful floating bridge. The Queen Emma bridge. As cruise ships come to port the pontoon bridge floats open and lets them pass. 

Dushi sign curaçao

Mitzi will want me to let you know that she got dressed first.

giant iguana statue
curacao sign

Punda is where you can get souvenirs, Americanized foods, and all the cliche pics.

We ate lunch at the Iguana Cafe watching the bridge swing open and closed for boat traffic.

The whole island is very colorful but downtown even more so. Alley ways are painted and artists set up shop all along the streets. 

Over the Bridge & Through the Mountains 

to grandmother’s house we went. 

Curacao Mountain

Dilapidated buildings turned into mountains as we crossed the island.

Curacao Mansion
Curacao Architecture

Their house is stunning. The couple designed it themselves to sit perfectly on the side of a mountain overlooking the bay. 

There are no words for it’s beauty.

Dutch family

Here we have Mitzi’s grandfather, Aunt Zunny, Mother (also named Mitzi), and grandmother. 

wise old woman

I spent as much time as possible talking to her grandmother and grandfather but couldn’t stop myself from repeatedly drifting outside.

I am Cuban. I grew up listening to my grandparents speak about Cuba’s majesty… how jungled mountains peer over it’s oceanic shores. This house took me to all those daydreams.

We watched the sunset and drove home in silence.

sunset over ocean

Curacao Buggy Tours

We spent half a day on a buggy tour around the West side of the island. We met with the group and drove through the city until we reached the dirt roads.

Our first stop was the rocky coast. 

PSA: MITZI IS SUPER DRAMATIC 

(birds of a feather)

She did not die.

After some *light* mudding, our guides had us line up our buggies in two files and we hiked into the Hato Caves. As soon as we hoisted ourselves through the mouth of the cave we were surrounded by bats overhead. Or as I like to call them, adorable flying teacup puppies. 

Our last stop was at the Ostrich Farm. Here we felt a bit mislead because we were not allowed to actually go see the ostriches (you would have had to come back and paid to take the Ostrich Farm tour)… but there were some other animals we were able to see.

Mambo Beach Party

mambo beach party

Although we went out for dinner a few times we only went out-out once. Every local I asked “what kind of nightlife is there on the island?” gave me the same answer: Mambo Wednesday nights. So I made Mitzi & Ralph take me to Mambo Wednesday night. It is really beautiful and definitely my kind of night out. Mambo is within a resort area and is just bar on a beach that plays music. 

couple kissing at night on beach
love birds 

It may relieve you to know: I enjoy being third wheel.

So me & my new favorite beer, Amstel Light, had a fantastic evening:

girl drinking at beach bar

We hung out for a bit and left early… well at midnight. Which is early for a Miamian. 

Klein Curaçao

catamaran sailing into bay

Klein Curaçao (which translates to “Little Curaçao”) was once a bountiful island used as a breeding ground by seabirds and landing point for monk seals. Unfortunately, it was discovered by humans (gag reflex), ravaged by farmers and their goats (preventing the birds from returning), it’s monk seal population was completely wiped out by hunters, then the island was mined down to sea level as a result of Europeans harvesting all it’s phosphorus reserves (from the bird poop), and eventually used as a quarantine place for sick and dying slaves that were being transported from Africa… such a rich history. It’s one point of revenge was all the ship’s that wrecked there since it is so flat and hard to spot – no for sure one of my many souvenirs from Curaçao is an African slave ghost and his headless monk seal ghost buddy & talking sea bird ghost pet. Not a third wheel after all #ghostboyfriend 

It was a slow 1.5 hours sail to the island me laying on hull netting between my Curaçao adoptive parents (Mitzi & Ralph). You could never tell the island’s dark past pulling into it’s sapphire blue waters and white sand beaches.

I was calm and slow moving the whole ride there but as soon as I could see the highlighter-blue water and anchored boats I worked myself into a frenzy. I have a hard time staying out of the water. I am sure reading this you think it’s cute but Mitzi (and my mother) will attest to it not being so. As I hastily put on my mask & ranas Mitzi only barely held my attention long enough to ask me what should be done with my travel pack.

The water was crystal clear and I got some amazing shots to share with you guys.

& videos:

Caribbean Blue Tang, Smooth Trunkfish, Needle Fish, Doctorfish, Jack
Bonefish School
Striped & Spotlight Parrotfish, more trunkfish, gobies, grunt, squirrelfish, butterflyfish, sergeant major  
Peacock Flounder
Goldentail Eel

However, my lack of technological know-how combined with my even worse lack of patience meant I had to make due without the dive-housing for my GoPro.
Whoops.
Long story short: I didn’t realize you had to pop off the square outter lense of the GoPro to get it to fit into the dive housing (WHICH IS IDIOTIC GOPRO DESIGNERS FYI). So, I assumed I bought the wrong thing and dove in without it. It wasn’t a problem close to shore but once I hit about 30\40 ft… my poor little GoPro would beep frantically and shut off resulting in a lot of videos like this:

GoPro goes too deep

Super anticlimactic – Insanely frustrating. 

Especially since I can’t judge distance to save my life so it happened a lot. 

The entire island is surrounded by a steep ~90 ft drop where the neon water turns royal blue. Diving on this edge I saw massive barracuda, a multitude of different fish, and a group of sea turtles. But I can’t prove it because I had to leave the GoPro floating on the surface for these long dives. The barracuda were some of the fattest I’ve seen and would follow just beyond the reach of my fins during my ascend… but this didn’t stop me. Alone and far from rescue, I (dramatically) decided in the event that these ‘cuda do frenzy and attack, that I had lived an amazing life and that it would be okay to die here doing what I love. At the jaws of some of my favorite fish so, you know ~whatever~ just happy to be apart of the circle (of life – you uncultured swine). 

On the other side of this coral reef mountain is the drop. The base of it (I learned through trial and error) was the GoPro’s max depth. FRUSTRATION

I ignored it as long as I could but at one point I made eye contact with a VERY cute white-bikini-wearing little dot frantically trying to get my attention from shore. Which I knew could only be my favorite Curaçao Princess.

She was calling me in for lunch which was included on our excursion with Blue Finn Charters. The spread was bountiful but I just had a few chicken wings and was right back on my way. Max dive time.

I swam around and waited for my buddies to finish eating so I could pester them into exploring the land with me. No rest for the – any one that is with me pretty much anywhere. sorrynotsorry

The only animals on land were these whiptail lizards that would eat the purple sea purslane flowers which are the succulent looking plants that cover much of the Klein Curaçao the way grass normally would. The muddy areas near the beach were pink and red and anything else was washed up coral.

Blue tail lizard Klein Curacao

Can you hear the sass when she says “the lizard?” The “IDIOT” was silent.

 TBH I was powerwalking because I wanted to get the land stuff over with so I could get back in the water… and also DID YOU HEAR THE SASS IN THE PREVIOUS VIDEO? That was just a small snippet. Mitzi is that “ride or die” kind of friend that has A LOT of questions… & all the snarky commentary.

I seriously love her ❤ 

Directly on the other side of these shipwrecks is an abandoned light house.

We climbed to the very top of the light house on the world’s steepest stairs and made it back down in one piece… well kinda.

Mitzi & Ralph very adorably BOTH got leg cramps as we were leaving the lighthouse. Relationship goals.
I laughed my ass off but kept walking because I wanted some more dive time. Had the roles been reversed I promise they would have done the same. There’s a lot of savagery in my friend group. 

The sail back was a party.

Dutch dance music blasted and alcohol was delivered on demand.  I chugged rum punch and made friends with the captain while occasionally breaking up Mitzi & Ralph’s super adorable little love fest. My ghost-boyfriend wasn’t giving me enough attention.

Jan thiel Beach 

As is customary for last days, it was bittersweet. I was excited to get home to see my family and friends but Curaçao tugged my heart strings more than most places usually do. 

We spent the morning and early afternoon at Jan Thiel Beach which was only a 5 minute drive from Mitzi’s house. Her father would tell you it’s a five minute walk… that he did through snow and high winds… but I assure you it would take us a day to walk there. Not even accounting for us inevitably getting lost. Or kidnaped… because we are ~like~ really cute. 

two girls laughing with flowers
I’d kidnap us ❤

The first thing we did was take pics. You’ve seen some of these on my instagram… but in the name of transparency I wanted to show you the bloopers. So you’ll see my insta worthy-shots, sitting atop their equal and opposite counterparts – i.e. me yelling or making weird faces.

& again:

~FYI – if you haven’t already – you can go check out my
Instagram page to see my Curaçao highlight~

My plan was to just lay on the beach and relax for a change so I left my mask & ranas in the car. I should have known myself better. There was a floating platform just beyond the shore that we wanted to take pictures at… so I walked my happy ass to the car and got my mask – because well what if theres some cool fishies to take pics of?

Janthiel Beach bay

 

Girl swimming underwater

Being a tomboy who always wants to look fabulous is tough work.

Exhibit A: me on the way to take cute pics at the floating dock with gold hoop earrings and aviators. The struggle is very real.

 

girl climbing ladder from ocean

It struck me here that I had no interest in relaxing… so once we were done I walked my scowling-muttering-to-myself-what-an-idiot-I-am ass to the car AGAIN to get my ranas…

Worth it.

The tent figure in the first picture above is Janthiel beach where I left Mitzi & Ralph while I explored the ocean bay. As I approached the opposite shore the waves tossed me around and I found a lot of upturned coral heads… so I flipped them back over and that’s how I spent most of my time. 

I came across a ship wreck on the swim back to Jan Thiel. 

I was able to take these two videos before Mitzi called me from shore… time to head home.

How deep was it? 5 ft? 30 ft? 10? I have no clue. 

0 spacial awareness… if you have an idea from the videos please feel free to let me know how deep you think that was because people keep asking me…

sunken shipwreck

It was a nice parting gift to come upon this wreck but I do wish I had more time to explore it. 

We all quickly showered and sat down to one last meal in Curaçao. The muggy airport was packed with people but we managed to all sit together. The nice thing about being third wheel in a plane is that you always get the window seat. WINNING

I love these two so much. I am so grateful to Mitzi and her family, as always, for opening up their homes to me and putting up with my madness. 

girl going down ladder into water blowing kiss

Th-th-that’s all folks ❤


Stay fascinated!

Atlanta, Ooh na na

When people ask me if I like to travel I usually give them the same response “I’m not #wanderlust but I’ll travel if presented with the opportunity.” No, I don’t mean a great deal on an all-expense paid trip to Italy, I mean real spontaneity with good people and loose plans. That’s my kind of travel… Likely because if I had to plan ahead for a vacation I would always pick my ocean first. There’s no place like home and with a 9 to 5 land job I am not home nearly enough.

Look this is weird for me too… another travel post while I have three unfinished ocean posts in queue… ANALYSIS PARALYSIS

Here goes nothing:

How’s this for spontaneous – I met this awesome tiny human (Allie) at my other fabulous friend’s pool party (Kelly, she was also with me for Denver) & we vibed. When you know, you know.

Alas, our drinks saw us end the pool party in opposite localities before we could even exchange numbers.

Fast forward a month later to last Monday and my tiny meatball soulmate slides into my DMs on Instagram asking if I wanted to go to Atlanta that same weekend.

Hard yes. Bought the ticket an hour later.

Atlanta Bound

Landed Friday and went straight to the Georgia Aquarium. Duh. I think this was my fourth time there. It is one of my favorite places in the world.

 

 

I love jellies they’re so pretty but its cool getting so close to them without worrying a wave is about to knocked those pretty stingers right into you.

Walking next to fish is the weirdest feeling. I don’t think I will ever get over it. It’s a trippy sensation… kind of what I imagine sea sickness feels like… sans nausea.

But who doesn’t love a good trip sometimes?

There’s a penguin exhibit you can crawl into and at least feel like your are right next to them. Smells like feet and fish… worth it.

Kelly Nicole Penguins

Everyone’s favorite exhibit is one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums:

 

^Don’t tell Jerry… that grouper means nothing to me! (not true I love all animals equally but yeah Jerry strikes me as the jealous type)

Obviously, I am all about the animals but what really gets me about aquariums, zoos, and the like is watching people fall in love with what I love. What I consider to be the most precious thing in the world:  animals, & the environment. Honestly, I get high watching people get hype about animals.

Double Whale Shark Trouble

 

You know that step brother’s meme that’s like “DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS?!” That is how I feel about every human having a good time at these places. I love you fellow hyped humans. Take all the selfies, stare at all the things, & love all the animals.

Aquariums are so important – not just for the vital research they conduct – but to spark that passion within humans who may never have the chance to experience these animals in the wild. People only save what they love and they only love what they know… 

We left the aquarium and walked aimlessly through Olympic park…

Olympic Photo Opp

It was too hot and we were too famished to pose but there’s your photo opp.

Our hunger lead us to Twin Smoker’s BBQ where we debated sharing an entrée… but then each got our own.

Twin Smokers

As a Cuban, my eyes always find lechón(pork) in a crowded menu…

Then we headed to an area heavily recommended called Buckhead… specifically the Buckhead Saloon. We had a few drinks and watched the place get crowded… well what we assumed people outside of Miami considered crowded.

Buckhead Sign

The USA in me always finds the whiskey…

 

Around 1.00 am we found a hotel that wasn’t booked. It was the Sheraton in downtown right next to the aquarium.

The rooms were super dark and I slept in together with the other girls until about 10.00 am. This is late for me. I am a morning person. We explored the hotel in the daylight – gorgeous – and hit the Jacuzzi before leaving to look for breakfast…

 

…Which we never found because by then it was the afternoon and no one wanted to give us waffles. Rude.

We were laughing but it was out of delirium…

So, we settled for Braves All Star Grill where the servers were very attentive and the food was A1.

Ran around Peachtree street trying to find our Uber. The Uber situation in Atlanta is a problem. All the drivers are very nice and gave us awesome recommendations but we didn’t have one ride where it was an issue finding our driver.

Found the car and were whisked away to the High Museum of Art. It was really cool.

They had a Winnie the Pooh exhibit which was interesting… even though I read an article on Digg (it’s an app I use that is just a feed of cool or interesting articles) about how the family behind the Winnie the Pooh stories was actually torn apart by the story books… it occasionally put a damper on things but our own battles with anxiety and bouts with depression let us see the humor in it all.  YAY for emotional instability ❤

My favorite pieces were by John B. Flannagan who was an American sculpture that preferred field stones to naturally and “intuitively” carve rock. So basically he carved with his heart. I feels that:

On the left the Dragon and on the right Jonah and the Whale: Rebirth Motif. Loveee

I love anything with that animal/nature vibe:

 

Yes, we were initially drawn to this because it was huge and we could take cool pics in front of it but I really did like it. It was a piece commissioned by the museum from Molly Hatch and was called Physic Garden.

After the museum we drifted around midtown for a bit while simultaneously looking up other cool things to do in the area.

& discovered Krog Street Tunnel online. Which is basically just Wynwood if Wynwood was a tiny tunnel packed with cars. It’s right next to a mini mall called Krog Street Market. How good any of these are we could never tell you because as soon as we arrived it started pouring…

Allie and I are all about a good roll in the rain but Kelly is not. Her species of Cuban is the one where two drops of rain water can and will kill you. “Oh, look we can just drive through it” she rejoiced when we realized it was just a tunnel to drive through… the insta pics would have been phenomenal. #RIP

Changed our destination to the hotel.

We found this meme on the ride

Take One for the Team

It’s really hard to write about an inside joke. My abs are still hurting for the laughing seizure we had.

All you need to know is that this meme set the tone for the rest of the trip because Allie and I are complete problems and God bless the men he has assigned to us…

probably from years of not keeping our goblins in check… However, Kelly didn’t get the meme because she is too much of a catch. #goals

Although Kelly was craving chocolate ice cream we convinced her all desserts had to be Atlanta-y so we got peach cobbler from the hotel bar for the room:

After some R&R we went to eat at an Irish pub called Meehan’s. Good food, good times.

I thought the waiter said Nipple when he handed me the check (instead of Nicole) another three-person strong laughing fit. I swear we are adults with adult responsibilities and fulltime adult jobs.

On the way back, we stopped at a liquor store across from the hotel. It was weird. All the liquor was behind the counter and we couldn’t grab our own bottle… which FYI is bad luck… maybe not but I make up superstitions daily and this felt like one.

Lemon drops at the Crazy

Crazy Atlanta Travel Bar was directly across the street from our hotel… we were told it
would be crazy… but we were literally the only people in the venue besides the bartender… so we took shots and ordered an Uber. Woop.

The Dark Horse Tavern was our next stop. It was pretty slammed with patrons, mostly guys, and no cover fee. We walked back and forth and ordered drinks. The Dark Horse is where some petty ladies tried to get us kicked out??? We were in the bathroom hyping ourselves talking about how good we looked (not sorry) and some girls went and told the bouncers we were talking trash and making them feel bad… the bouncer laughed with us when he told us. It’s sad that girls can’t just stick together. In Miami, the bathroom is where girls make lifelong friendships. So this hostility was foreign to us. But sweat no bitch right?

We made friends with two guys whose names I will never remember and followed them to the next bar. Much more poppin. This is where we stayed most of the night but we continued to explore the whole area.

We painted the town neon pink & blue in our matching black rompers… but were too busy enjoying the night to get one good picture of all of us… so here are some blurry ones and a boomerang.

 

 

We took selfies & shots and ended the night by fending off thirsty dudes from getting into our Uber… #truestory

Day 3 –  the promise of brunch got us up and ready. There was a full day of drinking ahead of us. We Ubered to The Warren and realized it was the same poppin’ bar we spent most of the previous night at.

What was a slightly raunchy outdoor area at night became a gorgeous upstairs patio during the day. My exact personality.

Bottomless mimosas for the win. They have a bunch of flavors but my favorite is pineapple. We stayed here for maybe three hours… gotta take advantage of the bottomless mimosas. Also the lighting was phenomenal..

 

Then we walked (me in a dress in heels #trooper) a mile up the road to little five points. The area was super cool and filled with bars.

We met up with Kelly’s friend Matt.

Chugged a fish bowl.

Fish Bowl

And played darts. Allie & I were team meatball.

Back to the hotel again. But just to change outfits (something more conducive to running all over the city) and down the rest of our vodka.

Our intoxicated halves said screw trying new things and marched us to Hooters. Where things got… weird.

 

 

I am going to be very candid with you all. We got drunk. Responsibly drunk. But drunk.

Matt was an awesome chaperon and lead us to different bars, a pool table, took pictures of us:

& made sure we made it safe to the hotel. We high key battled the previous night to keep creepy guys away from us but he kept the them at bay.

MattMan

Also, he calls butts “poopers.” Irrelevant but worth the mention.

Somehow woke up early enough to make my 6.30 am flight back to Miami… with everything except two nails… RIP

Honestly my Instagram stories are just a never-ending saga of a tomboy sirena(mermaid in Spanish) trying to keep her nails nice. & failing.

Atlanta was a blast and we didn’t even get to all the places we had planned to. We will definitely do an Atlanta part 2 trip to hit the rest of list… and obviously go to the aquarium again. Whoop whoop

Stay fascinated.