Thursday, February 7, 2008

Christoffelberg on travel magazine

I know, what is Christoffelberg? you'll ask. Well, it's the highest mountain in the Netherlands Curaçao, really. Anyway, it's a rather small mountain, 1239 feet make it more like a high hill. Still, it was featured in Caribbean Travel and Life magazine. Fabulous! Slowly, Curaçao has been popping up in travel magazines and websites. I couldn't be happier.

The short piece brought back such memories! When I first went the island in the 1970s to visit Frankie (my then boyfriend now husband!!), one of the first things I was invited to do was go up Christoffelberg. We left in the early morning hours for the short ride to the mountain; it was not a National Park yet, I think. I am not very good at anything before 9:00 a.m., so the car ride was spent dozing.... We arrived at the crack of dawn, literally. The best time to start according to local lore...before it gets hot!! My hosts had brought a complete picnic of hot coffee (which I don't like!), some juices, water, cheese pastechis (a local cheese pastry) and other goodies I don't quite recall. We started up through the arid landscape and up we went.

The day was breaking and the air was cool. The winding path was well trodden and surrounded by tall candelabra cacti and other prickly shrubs. Curaçao was not at all what I had expected of a Caribbean island, but it was a beautiful. I noticed that half way up, when I was actually awake.....the landscape had changed. It was greener and definitely different: flowering plants, orchids, bromeliads, big trees....and just as beautiful! Dozens of trupials (similar to the oriole and Curaçao's national bird) flew between the tall trees. The climb was not easy, I had to stop more than once, thinking that maybe I could just sit and stay behind. No such luck, I was urged on. What to do, I was only a guest. And then we were there.....

What a view! it was worth the climb. Did I mention the fact that I hate heights? Or that I have never climbed anything unless it had stairs? Or the fact that I do not subscribe to the school of thought that promulgates that mornings are to be enjoyed? Or that this was probably the first sunrise I had really seen? Anyway, I got up there and the view that greeted me took my breath away. The sun was just over the horizon and the morning mist was lifting. All around you could see this dry landscape with patches of green and bursts of yellow flowers; everything surrounded by the most gorgeous sea, in every shade of blue! I think that was the day, I fell in love with the island.

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