The movie Up in the Air resonated with me on many levels. I travel a ton for work, I hoard my miles, and I know which security lines I can possibly sweet talk my way through to a more pleasant experience. Still, despite being a pro at this travel stuff I have suffered through countless indignities. When I lived out in California, I once was stranded in New York City due to food poisoning and had to get a doctor’s note to show to the JetBlue ticket agent. Seriously! Another time, again flying out from California, we had to wait three hours for the sun to rise and melt the plane’s frost as American Airline had run out of de-icing fluid. I wish I was joking. It got even worse than that. The Flight attendants had to provide me with a friendly warning because I was eating the sandwich I had bought beforehand and there was really no food on board. So, people were hungry and were giving me the evil eye. This was before the passenger’s bill of rights. Not that those bill of rights have really made flying any better. Anyway, I have many many more travel horror stories, but those will be doled out throughout the life of this blog.
So, here I am in Curacao, the land I have found to be an inter-racial mecca. I was supposed to fly out of Curacao this morning but Mother Nature didn’t want to cooperate. I had chosen Curacao as a summer vacation spot, partly because it lies in a protected zone. Apparently it doesn’t get hit by hurricanes. Just doesn’t happen. BUT, alas the route back to New York City does go through a hurricane zone and soon-to-be hurricane Isaac is making its way through that path home. We are essentially stranded here in Curacao for two more days. There are really worse places to be stranded at. So, I’m back in the car and beach, cocktail in hand. (Note, that other New Yorkers are stranded here an additional three days as they didn’t sign up for airline texts alerts like I did. So I was able to rebook immediately once my flight was canceled).
Earlier in the week we had road-tripped it to the northwestern end of Curacao called Westpunt. While the trip consisted of a cool series of small hidden beaches, there was something missing: a lighthouse. On the map, which had been paid forward to us by the previous car renter, there were symbols for what was supposed to be lighthouses. The map hadn’t steered us wrong all week. This map had the oddest thing I had seen: fast food franchises as landmarks. It had icons for burger kings, KFCs, Mcdonalds throughout the map as highway markers and they were spot on. Puerto Rico could definitely use that type of map. So, going back to my search-where was the lighthouse?
Lighthouses are of a certain romantic archetype in our culture and in my dreams. One of the most famous old lighthouses is that of Alexandria which was built in 280 BC to serve as the port’s landmark and since then lighthouses have had major significance throughout history. Their often isolated and mysterious nature makes lighthouses a frequent setting of horror and suspense films. Recently, a lighthouse played a pivotal role in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, and was featured in the final shot of the film. Furthermore, they have served as major plot drivers in TV Science Fiction shows like Haven There is something about going to the top of a lighthouse and being able to look as far as the eye can see. There is always a sense of mythology that goes with the tower. The Tybee Lighthouse in Savannah, Georgia was part of the overall feeling of southern gothic that you get from the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. You climb 178 steps to the top and you feel that you should be sipping a mint julep and plotting an intricate murder mystery. The fact that before 1881, lard was the source of fuel for this lighthouse gives it an additional flair.
So, I was kind of hoping to find an old lighthouse in Curacao near a rundown Fort where one can feel the spirits haunting the area along with a little bit of the Pirates of the Caribbean feel. But we came across no lighthouses on the northwestern end.
Upon being stranded due to Hurricane Isaac, we again rented a car and set about finding two supposed lighthouses in the eastern part of the island. We went to Bullenbbai Bay and instead of a lighthouse came across an oil refinery and a bunch of pink flamingos. We went to Jan thiel looking for another mapped out lighthouse to only find a great view above the clifftops and a Fort but no lighthouse. Where had all the lighthouses gone? Is that a Paula Cole song? Why were all the lighthouses missing? Hmm, I did what any social scientist would do, I googled it. Just kidding. Somewhat. See, there just are not that many lighthouses in this area of the Caribbean and the ones that exist are on private properties or are only visible from water. The locals just don’t keep track of them nor have we heard of any folklore surrounding these lighthouses.
So, Mother Nature in the form of a hurricane tried to help me meet my goal of finding a lighthouse but making me stay two extra nights in Curacao. But it just was not meant to be. Lighthouses truly are often now located in inaccessible locations and are more functional and less picturesque and romantic. I’m stranded for one more day and I think instead of searching for that all elusive lighthouse I will go track down the Curacao distillery and do a taste testing. Cheers!
(P.S. Hoping for the best for New Orleans-8 years ago this week Katrina hit; may they be spared this time around)