Christoffel National Park Curaçao

To escape from the uncessant work of a boat refitting I decided to visit the National Park of Curaçao. In a cloudy saturday morning I took the road that leaves the city of Willemstad and the pollution of oil refineries heading Westpunkt, the extreme west of the island. By the way I stopped to buy some fruit in a common house of locals guided by the signal “Fruta Barata” (cheap fruit). Just before reaching the point where the island disappear into the sea you meet the sharp pyramidal edge  of Christoffel Mountain. It is 375m high and completely covered by vegetations up to the rocky top.

I entered the Park reception with the tiny Suzuky Samurai I rented from Pedro, the carpenter of the Marina and I paid 19,5 guilders (about 12 $) for the entrance plus the car ticket. The park is divided in two sides. The one that goes up to north is the marine side, a wide area with the rocky cliffs of Boka Grandi, a big lagoon where you can see Flamingos and Eagles, a small cave with some indian paintings and some other routes in the nature. Going south you approach the mountain and the area of disused plantations and mines. I went directly to the mountain as I was a little late. You can visit the entire park with the car through a small stripe of tarmoil that infiltrate the cactus and the small trees.

The first stop was not exciting, an ancient plantation not used anymore. I saw fully coloured birds and a huge iguana that ran away immediately. After this stop I decided to go directly to the hiking route that takes you to the top. From the parking they say it’s one hour to go up and the same to get back. I did it in 40 mins, close to noon but protected by the shade of the cloudy sky. It was really hard even if short and the heat is not a help. I’m not in a good physical condition due to the continuos work on the boat that is definetely not an aerobic activity and I suffered the climb that starts sweet but becomes very steep close to the peak, with some easy climbing passages on the rock. From the top you have a complete view of the island, from Westpunkt to Willemstad but the sky was not so clear and so the visibility. But at least I was not getting burned by the violent sun of noon and I enjoyed the bunch of grape I bought in the morning. Once I got back to the car I decided to visit the marine side, I didn’t know why but I was in a hurry.

The vegetation of the marine side changes with the influence of the wind that blows NE and bring salty air.  The trees almost disappear and cactuses predonimate the landscape. Compared to the busy Willemstad this corner of the island is really savage and quite, perfect for meditation and relax.

The marine side has also few caves once inhabited by indians. The caves have paintings on their walls and when I entered I felt like it was a home and I have to escape from fierce animals (I’m not sure if here in Curaçao they even had one in the whole history, probably not).

I enjoyed the journey, it’s defintely not a unique and impressive natural environment, but I always like natural sites with few people where breath fresh air and the noises all come from the wind, small birds singing or waterfalls. I love the western part of Curacao!

The mighty power of Vinegar (on yachts too)

I have  a new best friend, I just met him at the supermarket. He’s name is Vinegar. That’s not the effect of prolonged  solitude, Vinegar is really making my life easier everyday. At home or on your own boat the uses of vinegar are so various and effective that is possible to write an entire book on it. On the web you have plenty of references, there’s a website that suggests 131 uses for it!

But I still have to explain why vinegar is my new best friend. If you do manteinance on boats you have surely used Epoxy Resin in various repairings and installations. And you probably know that it sticks on any kind of surface, skin as well, and that is really hard to remove. Well when you accidentally touch fresh epoxy (use disposable gloves!!) you have to wash the surface immediately with a strong remover. You can choose between Acetone and Lacquer Thinner or washing powder (I heard you can use sugar also…), all expensive and quite poisoning products. Or you can use a solution (50% minimum) of water and vinegar. The result is than surprising that when I’m using epoxy I also prepare a small pot with vinegar and water in it. I used it also for epoxy spots on clothes,  the effect is not so brilliant as on human skin and requires a good dose of patience, but at least it doesn’t make more damages on the the textiles, like fading dye.

Its antibacterial effect, the ability to remove odors and degreasing power make it a natural and economical product for personal and home care. Used in waste systems contributes to the removal of limestone and sediments, perfect for your boat heads. It is phenomenal with water and lemon juice to remove the fishy smell from the dishes and the sanitation of any area.

If you really do not like it on the salad (it ‘s also dietetic reducing hunger and food cravings) you should buy it to help the environment and your wallet too.  My father used to drop all the bottoms of wine bottles in a sealable glass bowl, and after one year (and several bottles) you have free home made wine vinegar. This last tip is good for both real misers and severe drinkers.