Bon Bini Back!

I really hate American Airlines. I detest Miami International Airport. I’m really not very impressed with the Breezes Resort. And I’m also not very fond of the entire island of Curacao.

Before I give you the wrong idea, we had a really great time on our vacation. We (almost!) unplugged entirely, spent a lot of time in the beautiful, warm, Caribbean ocean, and had lots and lots of wonderful family time – which was most important and what I was hoping for most.

But…there were just a few minor (well, I guess some were not so minor) details that would have really helped the vacation along. I’ll do a quick travelogue for you and run-down of the highlights and low-lights of our family getaway.

Saturday, June 2nd: Up before dawn, CA time and got everyone and everything to the airport. All started out good. The flight to Miami was fine (except for being 5 hours long!) and the girls were great! All was starting out pretty well. Then we had less than an hour layover in Miami – seems like it would be perfect, right? Yeah, well, Miami’s airport stinks. It is a 15-minute hike from one terminal to the next. And of course we had to get from terminal A to D. Hauling 2 kids and all the accompanying junk. We just barely got on the second flight. At this point, we also have the extra curse of losing three hours and no naps. Needless to say it was a long flight, even though it was 2 hours shorter. Still, the girls did really well.

We get to the resort and of course it doesn’t look quite as glamorous as the website, but still, you can smell the salt air, it has a definite tropical feel, and the rooms were clean, if not a little sparse and kind of uninteresting.

We all fall into bed, it was 11pm Eastern time, so only 8pm to us, but we had been traveling for more than 12 hours and were definitely ready for some sleep.

And then the “music” starts. Our room, while it had a gorgeous view out over the ocean, also overlooked the “disco” and was close enough to the pool/party area that we were treated to horrifically bad lounge singers until 1am most nights, and then the thump, thump, thump beat of the disco until 3am. Luckily this affected J. and I more than the girls. But it was so loud we wore earplugs to read our books in the living room every night. And J. also went over to complain, to no avail, every night.

Sunday, June 3rd: We all fell out of bed at 10am or so, about normal time for us at home and spent the day eating (eh, it was normal buffet-ish food with a little Caribbean slant to it. It was ok, nothing to write home about – so what am I doing writing about it?), and playing in the ocean and pools. Very nice way to unwind and relax. The beach was actually pretty nice and the girls LOVED it. Em got a little braver and swam out further and further each day. Ad was incredibly busy the entire week moving all of the rocks up on the shore (and shells and coral) back into the ocean.

Monday, June 4th: More relaxing, more beach time. A little bit too much sun for J. and I – we both had some pretty flaming backs by the end of the night. There was great snorkeling right off of the beach, so we spent a lot of time with our backs in the water, towards the sun. Tried to take the girls over to Kids Club to acclimate them so we could try to get some diving in – but every time we went over there, the sitters and kids were off on some excursion. And the people who worked at the resort really seemed to be the most unwilling and unhelpful bunch of people I have ever met. We did get to eat at the Japanese steakhouse on the resort – and it was amazingly good. By far the best place to eat at the resort, so good we made reservations again later in the week.

Tuesday, June 5th: Got the kids settled in Kids Club, Em was very excited, Ad a little apprehensive – but no tears. So J. and I headed over to get in a refresher dive on the reef. But it was rough, way too rough to hop back in the water after not having been on a dive in over 6 years. So we scheduled one for the next day and hung out a little bit before going to collect the girls. They did fine and the ladies at the Kids Club seemed to be pretty competent and by far the friendliest of the staff at the resort. So I was feeling much better about leaving them.

Then we rented a car and decided to go explore the island. J. and I figured out about this point, what it was that was bothering us most about the vacation. When we go on vacation to places like this we really like to get immersed in the culture and find all the cool out-of-the-way spots that make the island or city special. You don’t get that when you are smack in the middle of a touristy resort.

So we headed out to explore Willemstad and see all of the very cool Dutch culture and architecture that we had read so much about.

In the end…Willemstad was a bit of a disappointment. The people are not very friendly, and there are just a lot of really bad touristy-kind of shops. The highlight of the city is the Queen Emma Bridge – there are lots of pictures of that one! On our way home yesterday I told A. we were going over a big bridge and she said, “Emma bridge?” – so now all bridges are an “Emma bridge.”

We have been to a few great islands in the Caribbean – it being our favorite vacation destination, but I think Curacao will be last on my list when ranking all of the islands. Still it is the Caribbean, with that amazing Caribbean-blue ocean. So, more swimming and lounging and we tried out the Italian restaurant for dinner. Also pretty good, but still not as great as the Japanese place.

Wednesday, June 6th: My absolute favorite day on the island. Finally we got in the water to dive! The refresher part of the course/dive was pretty quick and after an initial freak-out (I had a bit of a hyperventilation episode when I first tried to go down) we got to dive the reef.

It. Was. Amazing.

Clearly that is the best thing Curacao has going for it. The reefs are gorgeous and the visibility was really great. We were pretty amped up afterwards, it really felt good to be diving again.

Then we went and explored the island, which is sorely lacking in any sort of signage at all. So even though there really is only one way to get to the end of the island, it was a little trying to get there. The island is very scruffy, Arizona-looking. Lots of cacti and scrubby bushes. And most of the island is just pretty run-down and kind many parts of it have trash on the side of the road. It is so sad, because it could be so amazing if the people seemed to care at all.

But the drive was so worth it. We went to the most beautiful beach, Knip Beach. You could see your toes even in 6 feet of water. You could “snorkel” without a mask and fins – just look down into the water to see the fish. We spent a good chunk of the day at the beach and could have easily gone back and spent more time.

Thursday June 7th: We went out on a shore dive by ourselves, well almost by ourselves. An Italian doctor asked if he could join us because he did not have a buddy. I said yes, of course, being too nice. J. said he would not have let him come because he didn’t want to be responsible for anyone else. But in the end it turned out fine. We had a really nice dive and saw some great fish and could see the top of the carpile wreck where they sunk some old 1940s cars years ago to help the stimulate some reef growth. The wreck is deeper than 100 feet of water, an advanced dive, so we couldn’t go to it – but we could see it pretty well and we were at 45+feet deep. So again, amazing visibility.

While we were diving the girls went to the Seaquarium with the Kids Club. So we went to pick them up there and spent the rest of the day bumming around looking for souvenirs, and more swimming and playing in the ocean.

Friday June 8th: We fit one more dive in – same sort of dive plan, out along the reef, only this time we swam with a sea turtle for about 10 minutes. He was so very cool and so amazing to watch. he was just swimming, gliding along, like he didn’t have a care in the world – although he was definitely keeping one eye on us the entire time.

Since it was our last night there, we tried very hard to get a good family photo and did not have much success. But got in some more swimming and started packing up.

Saturday, June 9th: The longest day. Ever.

We left the resort at noon. Which would be 9am, California time. This will become important later in the story. After clearing customs in Curacao we had an ok flight back to Miami. Addie, of course, did not nap – which will also become very important to the story. Then when we get to Miami, the detested airport, we have 2 hours to clear customs, get our baggage, have it checked, drop it back off, and get back to our gate. We do all of this…and have a few minutes to grab sandwiches to take on the plane. Get on the plane, which is supposed to leave at 7:40, and we are still sitting at 8:30 waiting for the maintenance men to figure something out. Finally they cancel the flight and start to get everyone back off of the plane. As we are trying to get back off, J. calls American’s reservations and got us on a flight that was leaving at 8:55 – since we didn’t know what they were doing with everyone, we took the seats and had to bust from terminal A to terminal D. Again. And they hadn’t gotten our stroller back off of the plane, so we were running with the carry-on bags and the girls. We walked up as they were loading (it was delayed, thankfully, we never would have made it.), only to find out that they had put us all in middle seats, in four different aisles. Clearly this wasn’t going to work. Addie is having a full-on meltdown at this point. She had one while we were trying to get through customs, too – so we are all about at the end of our rope. They managed to get Addie and I together and Em and J. together in another row, so we started our our flight. Addie was a terror fro the first 2 hours. She just was so exhausted she could not cope or manage. Mercifully after my teary pleadings and J. sitting in the lavatory with her to let her scream, she fell asleep.

Five hours later, we arrive at LAX, but of course our bags are on the next flight, so we had to wait for them. We pulled into our driveway at 1:45am this morning. Never, ever have I been so happy to see our house, or sleep in our bed.

Of course Em was up before 7am this morning, they both slept on the plane and the entire way home. But it feels so good to be home, that I didn’t even care.

Now J. and Em are gone to get us bagels (and coffee, lots and lots of coffee) and the real work begins. Getting back to normal and off of island time.

*Bon Bini means “welcome” in the crazy Papimiento language that they speak in Curacao. It is a mix of Dutch, Spanish and a little French, too. I think.


6 Responses to “Bon Bini Back!”

  1. 1 Kim June 10, 2007 at 7:55 am

    Welcome home, friend! I missed you. Glad you had a nice vacation.

  2. 2 Colleen June 10, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Sorry for the few mishaps… but it sounds like you had a fabulous trip. I’m so jealous. We’re going down the shore (Long Beach Island here in NJ). It will be fun… but so not tropical. I long for tropical. One of these days we’ll get back to vacationing the way we used to before Zoe.

  3. 3 Kimmer June 10, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Hey Care — ouotside of the frustrating mishaps it sounded like a fun trip. If nothing else warm and relaxing and away from the BUSY everyday life. Welcome home!! I sure missed you’re blogs. I didn’t realize how much I looked forward to them until they weren’t there for a week.

  4. 4 michelle June 10, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Ditto to Kimmers comment! I missed your blogs too!
    Oh we missed you so very much. Welcome home!
    Glad it was a good trip, and happy that you are safe at home!

  5. 5 Christina June 12, 2007 at 4:55 am

    Welcome home! Bummer about the mishaps, but overall it sounds like a fun time! Getting away together as a fmaily is the most important thing.

  6. 6 JCL July 20, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I’ll agree with everything about American Airlines and the Miami International Airport, but our experience on the island of Curacao was amazing! We found the people friendly, our resort (the Marriott) was gorgeous, and we wish we could have spent another few days! I guess traveling with children makes things more complicated, but hey, American lost our luggage in BOTH directions. Still, I would go back to Curacao in a heartbeat!

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