Journi Guide | There's Never Been a Better Time to See Curaçao

Ditch Aruba! Prices are down and surf's up in Curaçao.

When travelling to a famous international destination, we tend to have high expectations. Breathtaking views! Great food! Cultural exchanges with friendly locals! But too many times, our lofty aspirations are met with the harsh reality of dirty, overcrowded streets and pricey hotels. Local flavor? It's nearly impossible to find in many of the world's most touristy destinations. That's why we've created Journi Guides.

Journi Guides tell you where to beat the crowds, experience something authentic, and get the best 'gram of your life.

Check out this week's Journi Guide below to get our top recommendation of places you might not have heard of, but definitely should get to know.


Located safely outside the hurricane belt, there has never been a better time to visit the Netherland Antilles—Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, more commonly known as the ABC Islands.

Our bet is on Curaçao. Off the north coast of Venezuela you'll find the small, 170-square mile island rich hidden gem beaches, iguanas, and 150,000 friendly residents; the local concept of dushi (sweet or nice) isn't just a warm welcome for tourists, it's a way of life.

Need more incentive? Forbes reported Curaçao as one of the best bargain destinations of 2018, with an 11% dip in hotel prices. With luxe resorts, budget airbnbs, and everything in between, getting to this island paradise is easier than you might think: JetBlue flies nonstop from New York and American Airlines just added another route from Miami.

Consider this your guide to the best Curaçao has to offer.

Explore downtown Willemstad

With its candy colored row houses of Dutch and Portuguese-inspired architecture, Willemstad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Many of the historic houses are government-owned, meaning that a number of them are free and open for you to explore during the day.

Admire—and bring home—the work of local women artisans

Whether it's the marine-inspired aesthetic of jewelry designer and ceramicist Evelien Sipkes; the painted ceramic Chichi dolls at Serena's Art Factory; the cooperative SilvanyRoss, filled with a locally made arts and crafts; or a visit to Dinah Veeris tends a lush garden of tropical plants and medicinal herbs for use in to herbal lotions, oils, and other bath products.


Drink the eponymous liqueur

Tour Landhuis Chobolobo, the sunshiney yellow 19th-century mansion with a central courtyard cocktail bar. But this isn't just any luxe locale in which to day drink; it's the home to the Genuine Curaçao Liqueur made from the native laraha orange. They serve homemade ice cream too, so this one's a no-brainer for an afternoon cooldown.

Visit the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere

In use since 1732, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, known colloquially as "the snoa," is both house of worship to approximately 145 local families and a museum tracing Curaçao's Jewish heritage. Founded by Jews who fled Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century (the oldest tombstone in the cemetery dates back to the 1500s!). Be sure to also check out the floor. Made of sand imported from Israel, it is a reminder of ancestors who were forced to muffle the sounds of their worship.

Eat keshi yena

Don't miss the official dish of the Antilles: Gouda or Edam stuffed with chicken—often livers—olives, capers, pickled onions, and prunes. Keshi yena is served all over, but people rave about the ones served at Gouverneur de Rouville, a restaurant in a second-story colonial building in Otrobanda, that also serves panoramic views of Willemstad's waterfront.

Go out on a Thursday

One night a week, Willemstad transforms into an outdoor cultural festival called Punda Vibes. The city streets and squares fill with music—everything from a marching band to Latin and jazz—and on the main plaza at Gomezplein dancers demonstrate the Curaçaoan waltz. If you work up a thirst dancing, head to one of the many restaurants and bars offering happy hour specials. Just be sure to get back outside in time for the fireworks over St. Anna Bay.

Go wild

Head to the rugged northeast to see untamed Curaçao. Check out a sunrise safari at Christoffel National Park and see the island's endangered white-tailed deer and native barn owl or hike 1,239 foot Mount Christoffel. Sea turtles nest along the island's rockiest shoreline at Shete Boka National Park, whose name translates to "Seven Mouths" or "Seven Inlets." Picture waves crashing dramatically against the rocks like geysers. The deserted beaches are a popular scuba diving spot, or hike the trails on limestone bluffs that lead to viewing platforms above the surf.

Eat like a local

Curaçao's cuisine reflects its diverse history and heritage, with influences from the Creole, Dutch, and Indonesian. At the open-air food hall, Plasa Bieu, vendors cook up local specialties like goat, iguana stew, and pumpkin pancakes. Food trucks come out after 9pm in Caracasbaai area near Willemstad and serve grilled meats in a party bus atmosphere. Other local specialties to try include: red snapper and cod with rice and beans; ayaka, meat tamales wrapped in banana leaves; sult, pickled pigs ears and feet; funchi, a cornmeal mush similar to polenta; okra stew; plantains; and any dish with cactus. Wash it all down with awa di lamunchi, a freshly squeezed and sweetened lime juice.

Head to the Floating Market

Due to its dry climate, There is little agriculture on Curaçao so every morning boats from Venezuela dock on the water in downtown Willemstad. At the Floating Market, you'll find the freshest citrus fruits, avocados, honey, bananas, tuna, and mahi-mahi (often called "dorado"), and vendors negotiating in Dutch, English, and the native Papiamentu.

Knock back some green rum


At 8 a.m., the doors open to one of the island's oldest water holes, Netto Bar, which has been making, bottling and serving shots of rom berde (green rum) since 1954. Sample the sweet-bitter liquor, distilled with anise and the dried peels of the native Lahara orange, in a green rum cocktail or in a shot.

Waste a day at the beach


With its many coves and inlets, Curaçao boasts 35 powdery white sandy beaches. Many of the beaches charge a nominal entrance fee, but Playa Kenepa is a public stretch where coolers are welcome. Snack vendors line up at the entrance selling the local pastechi, a crunchy pastry stuffed with seasoned meats. Parking and admission is also free at Playa Knip, and the swimming is divine. After a dip in the electric blue water, cool off with the a visit to the batidos stand serving fresh-fruit smoothies.

If after you've eaten like a Curaçaon and soaked up the sun, surf, and culture, you find your suitcase too stuffed to bring momentos home with you, remember the island concept of dushi. Sweet memories and island kindness are imports that can fit in your seatback pocket.

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I don't know about you guys, but working from home has taken a serious toll on me. It started off really well. I was sticking to my usual routine as much as possible, but I've been slowly becoming less and less productive.

I noticed my sleep schedule had completely changed. I was rolling out of bed a few minutes before I was due to start work, and sometimes even working from my bed. I ate lunch at the desk and worked straight through my scheduled breaks. I was sleepier throughout the day, unable to focus as much, and just feeling less motivated overall.

So I looked into what I could do that would help me out of my slump. I tried a few things. Some were so simple I never thought they'd make much of a difference, and some I wouldn't have thought of at all, but now I'm back feeling more productive than ever.

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This is important because it separates your work from your home. Our homes are associated with relaxing, so designating a space that will be used only for work will help you concentrate on work while you're in that space. I also found that doing this helped me actually take appropriate breaks. When I left the space I was in relax mode, and once I came back, I was ready to work again.

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Everyone knows that working out in ratty clothing isn't very motivating.

Studies have shown that the right workout gear drastically determines how hard we push ourselves on cardio or at the gym. But high-end fashion clothes are never high on our shopping list, and a well-fitted pair of spandex can run up a hefty price tag. But as quarantine has forced us all to reevaluate our workout routine, workout clothes matter now more than ever.

But instead of blowing the big bucks on white-owned brands like Under Armour, we should use this time as an opportunity–while BLM protests happen across the country–to put our money towards black businesses as much as we can. This, of course, includes workout clothes. So here are some reliable Black-owned brands that are high quality and won't break your bank.

Yema

Yema

Founded in 2016, Yema Khalif and his wife, Hawi Awash, opened this fitness brand to help educate and feed the latter's home country of Ethiopia. All proceeds go towards helping to educate and feed at risk children in Ethiopia, and their fitness offerings are all beautiful and hand-made.

Culture Fit​

Culture Fit

Designed specifically for black women, Culture Fit's sleek design and well-ventilated workout gear is worth the money. Designed by women of color, each matching pair of active wear also can include a matching yoga mat, so you can really be looking your best when you hit your zoom yoga class!

Vero Mastodon

vero mastodon

Made popular by men and women who served in the military, Vero Mastodon offers breathable, flexible fitness clothes for all the heavy lifters out there. Their exclusive app also offers training programs by certified trainers and power lifters to help you get shredded and transformed.

Pru Apparel

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Focused on its message of community and pride, Pru Apparel is for every type of woman. Inspired by Africa's culture and rich history, the breathable clothing sets feature Kente cloth and come in a wide array of sizes. Not to mention, the prints are super trendy.

Glamourina​​

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This gorgeous activewear was born for the culturally conscious. Made for women of all skin tones and shapes, the workout gear was designed for the sole purpose of empowering and motivating. Their high-waisted spandex and quality mesh provide a collection of breathable fabrics that move however you do.

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Inside Chaz, Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

After nine days of standoffs between Seattle Black Lives Matter protesters and the police, at last the cops ceded the area to the revolution.

What is Chaz? Depends on who you ask.

Technically Chaz is the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone," an area of Seattle that has become a quasi-experiment in what a completely police-free state might look like. After nine days of standoffs between Seattle Black Lives Matter protesters and the police, at last the cops ceded the area to the revolution.


"On an almost nightly basis, the SPD has indiscriminately used excessive force against protesters, legal observers, journalists, and medical personnel," read an ACLU lawsuit that played a role in finally pushing the police out of the precinct, opening space for a new experiment in government (or a lack thereof).

Now Chaz is the subject of ire, suspicion, rage, and hope. Its origins happened rapidly. After the police ceded the area, protestors set up boundaries and barricades to create a protected zone of about six square blocks.

Currently the area sounds like a utopian dreamscape, a commune slash co-op that comes complete with film screenings, free food, and a growing People's Garden. There's a medical tent and a makeshift Mutual Aid library. There's a medic station, a "No Cop Co-op" where people can get free supplies, a shrine made up of candles, flowers, and pictures of George Floyd and the countless others who have been killed by police. Protestors have screened films including 13th and Paris Is Burning. Murals and paintings fill the street.



What Is Chaz: A Block Party, an Antifa Hub, or a Revolution Waystation?

Conservatives, of course, are absolutely losing it. Trump described the protestors as "Domestic Terrorists" who "have taken over Seattle, run by Radical Left Democrats, of course. LAW & ORDER!"

Twitter has become completely overrun with conspiracy theories about the town and what it means. One Twitter user started a rumor that a SoundCloud rapper named Raz was becoming the zone's "Warlord," which was simply false.

Others are horrified, calling the town an Antifa stronghold, or an anarchist establishment that's threatening American democracy.

Reports from people on the ground beg to differ. "The CHAZ is not communist. It's not socialist or anarchist either. Most people here might subscribe to one of those ideologies, but mostly it's just an extended BLM block party," wrote one Reddit user.


The Future of Chaz

No one is exactly sure what Chaz will become. Some believe that the police will eventually retake the autonomous zone; but for now, the town will stand as a testament to the power of protest and possibility.



Others want Chaz to become the beginning of a momentous change. Some of the zone's inhabitants have drafted a list of 30 demands, which include abolishing the police, banning the police's use of arms in between now and when they are abolished, ending the school-to-prison pipeline, providing reparations for victims of police brutality, decriminalizing protest, providing a retrial for all people of color convicted of violent crimes, demanding release for anyone incarcerated on charges relating to marijuana, and much more.

Organizers are beginning to shape a makeshift government in order to actualize these goals. At Chaz's first Town Hall. "The goal was to hear speeches from local Black and Indigenous leaders, and then to break up into small groups to brainstorm ways to address concerns about trash, traffic, helping small businesses, establishing accountability structures within a non-hierarchical social arrangement, and whatever else came up," writes Rich Smith in The Stranger.

The main question the organizers grappled with at the meeting was what to do with the empty East precinct, but certainly bigger questions will come up. Some want to see the zone establish its own council. "It's very important that we get a council going of elected representatives of the CHAZ zone," said a protestor and Chaz resident named Malcolm, who works with Black Lives Matter Seattle. "Since you guys are going to be our sovereign state, you guys have to get that going immediately."

But some members want to avoid picking organizers, preferring to stay away from the fragility and corruptibility of leadership. Some approve of more anarchist models of organizing, others focus on anticapitalist ideals, and others keep returning to the movement that launched Chaz in the first place—the anti-police-brutality Black Lives Matter protests launched by the killing of George Floyd and 400 years of oppression.

Most organizers emphasized prioritizing Black and brown voices, but still, the town is certainly not free of the racial tensions that inspired the movement that created it. Some already fear that Chaz and its white occupants, in particular, are distracting from the Black Lives Matter movement, applying their own agendas or even treating the commune like the dreaded Coachella.

"As the protests continue across the United States, we risk finding ourselves lost in the same pattern of unproductive behaviors that have long plagued the country. An obsession with modes of racial protests rather than with the meaning of them belies an unwillingness to face the flaws they expose in the nation's ability to live up to its ideals and fulfill its obligations to the citizenry," writes Theodore R. Johnson in The National Review.

Similar problems plagued another memorable movement-inspired village: the outpost that cropped up during the Standing Rock protests in 2016. In those years, Standing Rock turned from a place where Indigenous tribes could reunite to a sort of gentrified Burning Man, forcing leaders to request that the encampment's white occupants learn to listen more and request fluoride-free water less.

At marches across the nation, Black Lives Matter organizers are reminding the thousands of people who have shown up for the cause that this movement cannot be an Instagram trend or another hashtag. Racism isn't something that can be shut off after a few weeks—it's lifelong and pervasive—and hopefully everyone showing up will stay in the fight long after the initial whirlwind has slowed.

The same fate could befall Chaz if things go south. On the other hand, perhaps this new settlement will fare better. Perhaps it will be the start of a new world—a new America where the police are replaced by mental health counselors and free food. Most likely the result will be a combination of both, but for all intents and purposes that seems to be Chaz's goal: to see what might happen in a world free from police violence, where people keep each other safe as long as they can.