Five months in Curacao has undoubtedly given rise to an anecdote or two.
While Henrik was still in second class at St. Elisabeth Hospital in Willemstad due to lack of space in third class (yes, there is such a thing as first, second and third class at this public hospital), we had a beautiful discussion with three adorable nurses about pursuing your dreams. We had told them about our voyage and our reflections surrounding this change of life style, whereupon they became attentive and pensive: they would at least start thinking about what their dream was, leaving concerns for kids and work for a minute – because this was important stuff!
After the degradation to third class, we realized how peaceful second class had been… Going from a maximum of one other patient in the room to a constant four fellows + the five people on either side (given that the rooms were interconnected by a large gap by the roof) creates noise. Noise ranging from the warm laughter of “Bad Boy” / “Loverboy”, who had broken his leg when fleeing from the police after having driven on the back wheel of his motorbike (not allowed!) and who had not just one, but several girlfriends and always a cocky remark, to “Mister Moaning”, who several days after his operation had figured out that he would get more attention if he faked being in great pain. The most entertaining, however, was “Scatman John”, who had lost his leg, but would start chanting/rapping at any hour as if he were Scatman John – a situation where you would have liked to understand the local language Papiamento 😉 After a few days, you could tell by his facial expressions when it was coming up!
The nurses stood for another kind of noise, when they swiftly entered the room at 4 AM, turning on the sharp fluorescent lamps (despite a softer night light being available) while shouting out “Bon dia!” in order to take the patients’ blood pressure… Then it’s good to know that the priest might come by during the day and bless you volatilely with the sign of the cross (but no words) on his way.
You might also need a priest when you have a bill to be paid in the bank. In the one where we had to pay for our prolonged stay in Curacao, they did not accept neither Visa- nor Mastercard (?!). So us out in the heat to find an ATM at another bank to withdraw cash that we could use in the bank. On top of that, we had already withdrawn a large amount that same day to pay for Henrik’s surgery (because the expenses for the surgeon do not go through the hospital and are therefore not covered by the guarantee of payment from the insurance – thanks for telling us – and of course, the surgeon does not accept credit cards either). This is the time where you praise the fact that you are in possession of more than one credit card… Another bill in another bank took attempts with three credit cards before it went through (third time lucky) and entailed one piece of Benedikte almost losing her mind, especially because this was the second visit to this bank due to a forgotten passport the first time, which you of course need when paying a bill… Long live internet banking!
During the last six weeks of our Curacao adventure, despite hard work on the yard, we had a very positive experience at Curacao Marine, where we were treated very professionally by the staff. Always helpful and always following up on our many questions (oh no! Here comes Henrik on his red bike with all his questions… The yard manager Gareth actually invited us on a beer when we went back in the water to celebrate that the questioning now would be over 😉 ). Although very professional, their playful side came to light on a Friday night, where we witnessed a spontaneous after-work-race with the tractor used for hauling boats in and out of the water… What the heck, it wasn’t to be used until Monday 😉
Long-distance sailing is equivalent to changing plans. Our Curacao experience is probably (hopefully!) one of the rarer change of plans – but we did survive that one too!