Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Hidden Side of Curacao

Curacao is a many-sided beauty. As I roamed about this island that's part of the Dutch Antilles, I found that the only way to make this discovery was to traverse Curacao's historic, creative and arid spaces.

Sure, most people flock to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the colonial town of Willemstad. But, instead of concentrating on Punda, the neatly laid-back historic neighborhood, I opted to take an architectural walking tour of Otrobanda, a pastel-hued, less affluent historic neighborhood.

My guide pointed out the lone black roof tiles among a sea of terracotta. Then I found out that it all dates to a 19th century governor who imported the more durable black, glazed tiles -- they carried a status cache -- from Holland for his mansion. Trying to emulate him, some citizens added black roof tiles to their homes, not glazing them, however, because of the added cost. The result: they're not as durable and they absorb even more heat.

Find out more about activities that will satisfy gourmands, art and architecture aficionados and nature buffs in my National Geographic Traveler - Intelligent Travel article.