krabbenmentaliteit, crabs in a barrel, is often mentioned to describe how people react to success. One crab tries to make it out, other try to make it on his back and pull him down. In Curacao as well as in Suriname. It was noted by a columnist from Suriname that crabs only show this behaviour in abnormal, stressfull situations. We noticed that it is something that saddens people and is said in an apologetic way. If it is a thing that really happens or an urban myth, we don't know.
20 % of houses empty: last will taboo
20 percent of houses in Curacao is empty because there are problems about the ownership. People die without a will and often family can't agree upon who will inherit the property. When there are no close relatives it is unclear who has the right to the house.
There is a taboo on making a will: when you make one you will have problems with who to leave it too. You will insult some people. When you ask someone if he/she made a will it will sound like you wish this person dead. So you won't ask.
This according to Mr. drs. Lydia Davelaar, who researched the matter..
This is the historical part of Willemstad, Punda. After the fort Zeelandia was build in 1650 people started building here, in the shadow of the fortress. It is restored in the last 30 years and on the Unesco world heritage list. This used to be the part where you could encounter all kind of trades. From brothel to bank. When Shell and the refinery came, this all changed. People started to work there and things that were made locally were now imported.
the Punda effect
As well both slave and master used to live here. This has all changed. It is now a tourist place. Mostly souvenirshop and other trades catering to the tourist can be found here. There is the occasional traditional shop. As for living: after six o'clock this part of town is dead. A mausoleum. And a problem. This is called the Punda effect: you restore buildings to a historical level, make it attractive to tourists, shop prices rise, locals move out and then it dies. Because a tourist is a paying visitor. Not an inhabitant. A tourist generates income, not life. But a tourist wants life too, not only shops..
Yesterday we ran into this mysterious figure promoting Black Power. As well legalizing marihuana. Because his face was veiled he was more an appearance than a person.
It was searing hot, nobody hooted or gave signs of recognition. It gave it a dreamlike quality.
It was the first person we saw here that was on a mission like this. We were happy to see him/her.
Yom Kipoer: forgiving
We hadn't realized it: but when we arrived at Landhuis Bloemhof to do some research we found the note: closed for Yom Kipoer, day for forgiving. It 's the start of the Jewish New Year and you leave your old sorrows and pains behind by forgiving. Good idea! It was only after five minutes we realized how often we blame, shame and get angry. Luckily this time we forgave ourselves and everybody else...
But some things seem not be forgiven nor to be held into account. At least not openly. We notice the subdued anger, the reproach every day. Nobody tells us who's guilty. But there's a hint that things are not okay. And it is not about us, as who we are as individuals. It seems that historical roles still play a big part in people's perception of each other. Our certain things to big to forgive. Is there something like a right to hate? Or is forgiveness as well cultural thing: something you make part of your tradition?
leftover stuff from a initiative to establish a vacationhouse called: FlaminGo-fun. Their website from 2010 is still in the air, check: http://flamingo-fun.com/
Apparently the owners are chased off the island, leaving behind their shit. Nobody cleans up the site, or begins something new. We run into a lot of these vacant spots with leftovers from earlier dreams and initiative or as a result of conflict. In this particular case a guy passing by tells us: They had a good concept but they were MAKAMBA's!!
Op de achtergrond zie je de Markthal in Punda, een rond gebouw van beton wat een beetje doet denken aan een voetbalstadion. Binnen verkopen mensen groenten/ vis/ toeristenshit/ maar ook mooie kamerplanten/ cd's en toverkruiden. Ernaast staat de oude markthal waar je vanuit een volkse keuken voor een schappelijke prijs een heerlijk vissoep kan eten. geweldig!!
Makamba= the word for a white dutch person not to be considered a compliment.
In the background you see the markethall building in the citycentre of Punda. It has a circular structure made out of concrete and reminds me of a soccerstadium. Inside people are selling food touristshit and magical plants. The old markethall is standing besides this newer version and inhabits a great 'authentic' kitchen for the people with affordable fishsoup. Great!
life is a party
The lovely hawaiian style childrens birthday party we saw on the beach all of a sudden got a new dimension when we visited the Diamond party store. There it was: complete theme packages for your celebrations. And them we saw the prices.. Ouch. Hawaian skirt: 20 AG, flower necklae: 10 AG, party bag, empty: 3 AG, tablecloth, paper plate and cups: 40 AG. This must have been at least a 1000 AG party on set dressing alone.... And everything is plastic, so no way you can recycle and re- use.
or a battle
Is it the stingy Dutch person in me that finds it hard to enjoy this kind of spending. Or the believer in every person being an artist that becomes sad in seeing all this precooked fun. Is it for fun or social prestige that a party like this is thrown? I can imagine that it has its charms, that for once everything is 'right'. But at the same time having a good time without the parafernalia becomes 'not right, poor'. Or do we miss the point completely? Maybe we need a course in enjoying ourselves...
can you afford your identity?
It is important to keep up appearrances . In Curacao the front is what counts. And that is ok. You can look a million dollar, but live in a shack. You drive a super car, but are late with tuition fees. You throw a birthday party with an eleborate theme and have to payback the loan untill next birthday. At least you had a good time...
How is it possible to do this make belief? We, Dutch, are used to invite people over to our homes. Here you meet in public space, like the beach or the snek, small snack place. So it is much more easy to do the appearance thing. Good or bad? We don't know. We think simple is cool. To us the idea that you cannot afford your own identity is a little daunting.
It is a kind of an unlucky combination having the tourist industry as an important source of income and having a past whith slavery. Tourism pushes all the wrong buttons. It make history come to live. The link is invasion. The link is serving. The link is white people apparently having a better time than you. The link is being ignored or stared at. Looking at a world you cannot afford to be part of. You would want all of that too. But will you ever...
It is exactly what as a tourist you don't want to happen.
You want to feel welcome. Given a chance to exchange experiences: meet the locals. Appreciated at least for spending your hard earned money.
authenticity is not identity
It it auhentic but is it us? That 's the question. In pietermaai many of the dilapitated building have been restored to their former glory. But is the area now typical of Curacao? No. They are changed into apartments for Dutch students and tourists. So they look 'authentic', but are in a way alien. The fact that they are done up by Dutch developers doesn't help. At the same time they are not accepted as alien and left as that. Their appearance feeds the idea that the people from Curacao are being 'robbed and colonized again. ' So they are not ours in appearance and occupancy, but ours as in the way we should be living. As an opportunity that is denied.
People often say this is ours. This a many layered statement. For example: these beaches are ours. They (foreign or Dutch developers) shouldn't be taking advantage of them for personal gain and claim them for their resorts. But the public beaches that are there are not kept clean. Because that is a task for the government. Beach entertainment like swimming and snorkeling, the passtime par excellence for tourists is not 'authentic'. Women didn't swim, as this would make the sea wild. You wouldn't build your house on a cliff because it was believed your fourniture would be eaten by salpeter. But the tourist style is coveted now. The idea of being a developer too. In how far these longings are wise or empowering is not the issue. The end result is a wanting and feeling being left out. Being sold short. And that rhyms with an old and sad feeling. Somehow before you could have said or found out who you were already somebody has gotten the better of you.
A very interesting meeting with mr. Richenel Ansano of the N.A.A.M., national institute for archeology and antropology. We start of with the confusing term Authenticity. He explains that when it comes to buildings and artefacts 'authenticity' refers to when and how a thing is made. In this context it has a common sense and a clear frame of reference. When it comes to practices or customs things become more foggy. Authentic becomes is a whole set of references that are not very clearly defined. The questions how, by whom, when and why opens up fields of knowledge. For example, a cowhorn was used to make music and to sign accross the fields when harvesting. This leads to known carvers, best players, types of song, meaning of the signs. Authentictiy can't be clearly defined here.
People here are very adaptble. Customs and traditions change. When SHELL came to the island a whole new life style was introduced. With tourism what a beach is and what you do there changes. These things become authentic, because you cannot imagine life without them.
We are looking into the public space in Willemstad. It is different from Lima and Paramaribo in that there is hardly an experience of state-ness in these spaces. In Lima the public space was overtly colonial in style and governamental in expression. In Paramaribo for example the few monuments that were there were of an emancipatory charactar. Depicting post-kolonial leaders and icons of ethnic authenticity. Here it is queens and governors. The monument for autonomy is placed on a non functioning roundabout next to the highway. In a way it examplifies the ambiguous character of the Curacao identity.
Every time the word pops up: authenticity. It is a puzzling term. Authenticity refers to something else than the master slave power relation. Nor does it talks about the original inhabitants, the indians. As they hardly left a mark on culture today. The population here is mixed to the max. So the concepts of clear ethnic roots makes no sense. Authenticity is something 'caribean'. Somehow authentic is historic without the history. It is roots that are uprooted. Tricky. We'll keep asking....
In 2012 lots of positive solar vibes. But what happened next?
In november 2014 things suddenly changed. The tarive for delivering back to the net is reduced from 40 cents AG to 33 cents AG per Kwh. On top of that you have to pay 16 AG (8 euro) per solarpanel per month to Aquaelectra. For services. State company Aquaelectra was in financial dire straits so the ministers decided quickly on a Suntax!
Some companies protested against this change of hearts, but, the judge didn't find enough grounds for revoking the decision...
Now we understand why when we asked about soalar energy people just shrugged. Who knows what taxes will be charged next..
In 2012 state owned energy company Aquaelecta signed of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Assyce Fotovoltaica S.L about the largeproduction of solar energy. This happened in the presence of Curacao prime minister Gerrit Schotte and prime minister Kuupik Kleist . Ambitions are to produce 35% of energy in a renewable way in 2013!
The deal in 2012 for consumers is a little complicated: you are allowed to produce max 10 KW per day for Aquaelectra. This will build you a 'credit' in solar KWh. The amount you use above the 10 KW you will pay according to normal tarive (0,73 AG). If you use less then you produce Aquaelectra will pay you 0,4 AG per solar KW back.
No Airco? No Go!
You sleep without the AC? How? We cannot do without it. My children can't do without. My mother, if I go home now: she sits in the AC. I was born in the world of AC. But it does cost you: energy is not cheap. 800 to 900 gulden (400-450 euro) I pay a month. Air conditioning ia something that first was introduced on a larger scale in the 50-ies as a spin off of the new ways of living the SHELL brought to the island.
The Curacao power plant used to be part of the ISLA refinery. But a few years ago it was offered as a seperate entity to be exploited by the Curacao gouvernment. They acepted this gift. Easy money! But the power plant comes with a little issue. It is a huge polluter. So when it comes to the clean air issue now the Curacao gouvernment is as much to blame as PVDSA, the Venezolean company that exploits the refinery.
Always improvising, always new opportunities. That's what defined Willemsstad. During it's existence WIllemstad has had many different friends and enemies. Many different trading partners. It was hard work and life only changed when the Shell refinery came to Curacao. Then the income was steady and jobs were shure. But untill then it was just day to day...
Imagine that my father brought culture to Willemstad. We are talking to Varele and daughter of hris and Lucila Engels. Before that there was music and parties but Art and Cultural Life didn't exist. This coincided with the big boom in wealth the refinery caused. Life changed dramatically.
How WIllemstad came to be
Interesting lecture last night by Michael Newton on Willemstad. Location was the beautiful historical building of the National Archive on the Schaarloweg. In front of a captive and knwledgable audience mr Explained how WIllemsstad was first and foremost a trading station in the shadow of the fortress Amsterdam. The fortress founded in 1634 by the silver of the Armada robbed by admiral Piet Hein in 1628. The first outlay of the city was the area called Punda situated within the city walls. Public space didn't exist there until the late 1800's since the city within the city walls was so densely build. To enhance living condition the governor then decided to dmeolish some houses and create a plaza. The main square now Brion Plein, is on the other side of the water in Otrabanda.
Home away from Home
when entering the Albert Heijn supermarket it smells like: home. Funny how the smell of a place is part of the brand. From experience now we can say that the supermarket we normally visit smells like babydiapers, full ones. But this AH smells just right.
Buying or Selling?
The supermarket is forced to call itself Van Den Tweel, because it isn't a true Albert Heijn, it just sells its products. And this is exactly where consumers and entrepreneurs part ways Buying is a feeling, the selling is a competitive business.