Christoffel Park – watch out the thorns!

view point maybe without the bench;

back in our dushi* island in Caribbean, we had a nice excursion in the largest national park of Curaҫao, a first interaction with the terrestrial beauty of the island. On a Sunday morning (really early if you don’t want to get roasted under the mid-day sun) we met our guide in front of the park’s gate and picked up a safari car! I was so excited that even the prolonged jetlag couldn’t destroy my mood. Before we even manage to pick our seats in the trunk the guy started speeding like crazy, crossing trails covered with spiky branches, forcing us to bend our heads to avoid getting stung in the face!

Christoffel Mountain

Christoffel Mountain

The route that we followed brought us to different time points of the island’s history. From the first Arowak Indians that first inhabited the island (almost 4000 years ago) and spread their artifacts in several caves around the park (unfortunately no good photos available) to the colonial times and the controversial slavery era in the Savonet plantation. There are stories that want the Savonet owners to respect their slaves and care about their well-being while others describe tough masters whipping their slaves under the hard sun just because someone asked for water. I guess this is how the story goes depending on who narrates it. According to the museum’s site though: ‘the plantation owners couldn’t allow themselves to handle their slaves carelessly, because IT was a big investment’. Probably losing their valuable tools convinced them to maintain them better.

I extremely enjoyed the descriptions of the local guide that had a sense of innocence and fear, depicting a profound respect to nature’s will. The native belief, the so-called Brua, resembles the Voodoo religion of West Africa and any disobedience to nature’s law is severely punishable. On the other hand, if you are a good Brua believer you can use every possible natural resource without limits. This is mother’s earth gift to her kids and this was also one of the first destructive processes on the reef’s life history since the Curaҫaoans used to extract corals for multiple reasons. Overall, dealing with natives for reef management is a tricky situation but there are several movements that try to raise awareness around the island (more info in upcoming article).

Apart from history, the biodiversity was great and the ecology unique. The columnar cacti, that can reach 10m, form the perfect environment for a big range of animals by providing food, water, shade, safety, nest space. The bats cooperate by keeping the space clean feeding on pests and by dispersing the seeds of several plants. A large variety of birds, reptiles, molluscs and few mammals inhabit this environment showing how the nature can wisely bring together all the necessary ingredients to build a diverse system well-adapted to extreme conditions.

I was walking back thinking how I could share these images as I conceived them in my brain and by finishing this article I think I managed to share just a pinch of this adventure!

dushi* is usually used to call a sexy girl but in the Antilles it can also be used to describe something good.

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