What comes to your mind when you think of Caribbean islands? Clear blue water, white beaches, or palm trees? Maybe a little bit of everything? These imaginations became true for sure, but what I didn’t expect before the trip was experiencing moments of pure and infinite freedom. I start to run. In front of me there is the bright blue horizon while the edge of the cliff is getting closer with each step. I realize that there is nothing except for fish swimming in the ocean 15 meter downwards. With the last step on solid ground, I jump as far as I can and there it is: the amazing feeling of being in the air definitely was one of the moments I am traveling for. We went through national parks at the back of pick-ups, we took tiny planes from island to island and sailed towards the sunset on little boats. We explored the regions of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao in only twelve days and met so many crazy people.
At the swimming market in Willemstad there were stalls with hundreds of exotic fruit, colourful vegetables, fish I had never seen before, and of course souvenirs of any kind. The merchants boats were floating on a little river close to the open sea right at the back of the market. The slight breeze carried the smell of fresh fish through the air. The place was busy but somehow it seemed that everyone was laid back and people did not rush or stress as usual on such markets. Some people even drive next to food stalls to take their order right into their car without getting out of it. Colourful houses, sweet little restaurants and tiny shops are neatly lined up at the promenade. In contrast to the busy area full of houses, cars, ships and small streets, we continued our trip to see the untouched natural beauty of the island. The best of this part was discovering that area from a helicopter.
Leaving Willemstad, we went towards the northern part of the island. Passing by the coastline and the rough sea with high waves and a rather dry landscape, the western side of the island was breathtaking being the opposite of the eastern part of Curacao. In that area there was no house or social life. Instead there were countless cactuses and wild donkeys all over the place. Viewing paradisiacal hidden places at the northern part of Curacao from the birds-eye-perspective, we got to see graceful flamingos in enchanted lagoons, tiny bays with white beaches surrounded by palm trees and crystal-clear turquoise water.
We were lucky to stay at Aruba for the most important national holiday celebrating the independence from the Netherlands. The laid back attitude of the inhabitants of Aruba was mirrored in their way to celebrate that special day: everyone was outside their houses doing what they liked to do. Children were playing football on the streets while most of the adults played domino and drinked beer. There was reggaeton music everywhere and the people were having a great time. We were welcomed by everyone even though we felt slightly unfamiliar when we first got there. The atmosphere was infused by their pride of being independent Arubaians. Everyone was openminded and warm-hearted what made us feel really comfortable. In that way we got the chance to dive into their calm and stressless lifestyle for some moments.
All over the island Bonaire along the coastline and on the countryside there are countless caves. Probably most of the caves are not even discovered yet but we were lucky to get a chance to access and explore two different caves with a guide. One of the caves was a normal dry cave, whereas the other one was located at the seaside, called a water cave. The most interesting thing about the dry cave was, that there are imprints of coral reefs which used to be there thousands of years ago all over the walls. The water cave was absolutely impressive. After entering the cave itself, we could walk along a stream and at one point we had to dare diving through a hole on the ground. Catching some breath at the other side, we found ourselves in a giant round hall. Different patterns of coral reef imprints were all around us. The feeling and the atmosphere in there was definitely unique. There was the breathtaking fantastic location illuminated by special torches we brought, but there was also a slightly worrying sense of feeling due to the unusual situation of being in a cave under water.
All in all we had an amazing trip with an awesome crew. We got to see the stereotypical images of the Caribbean – crystal clear turquoise water and lonely beaches – what we still enjoyed. What really completed our experience were impressions of the lifestyle of probably the most laid back and open-minded people we have ever met as well as the absolutely impressive and unique images of the enchanted beauty of nature.
Thanks to the team of iTravel, who organized this trip for us and a big thank you to my crew for those incredible days.
Photo credit: Moritz Dehler, Noel Schultz, Miriam Vieth, Marko Roth