I am freshly returned from a AAA travel assignment in Curacao. I had never been to Curacao before. In fact, I'd never heard of anyone who had traveled to Curacao. I had heard of Blue Curacao, but I'm not sure I was even aware there was a country/island of that name. I sure don't remember it from geography class.
"What's the capital of Luxembourg?"
"Yes, what's it's capital?"
"Yes, it's capital is...?"
"Yes, right, Luxembourg; what's its capital?"
"L U X E M B O U R G already!"
"How about the capital of Curacao?"
"Who-a-how? Never heard of it. Use it in a sentence."
You get the drift. I heard of a lot of places in geography class, but never Curacao. When AAA contacted me about the trip, I had to Google it to find out where it is. For those too disinterested or lazy to Google it yourselves, Curacao is a small island in the Dutch Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. Near Aruba, its capital is...wait for it...Willemstad!
I have traveled out of the country a few times. I'm not what I would refer to as a seasoned international traveler or globe trotter, but I've been around a little. I still face such trips with a touch of trepidation. This is particularly true when the Caribbean is involved because it usually means flying through a third-world airport. I'm not talking about the Curacao airport; I'm talking about Miami International Airport.
I won't go into all the reasons I hate it, but other than the gobs of beautiful women you are bound to spot there, it has not one redeeming quality. I'll simply say that no matter what you do, don't get lost and have to ask for directions unless you habla Espanol. You stand a better chance of finding someone working in the Lisbon airport who speaks English than you do in Miami. This is only a mild exaggeration.
My Spanish is pretty much just "Mucho Gusto!" when I meet someone; "Donde esta el bano?" when I need to use the "little bloggers' room"; and "Tendre otra cerveza" when I want yet another beer. Beyond that I'm lost.
I created some of my Miami Airport problems myself this trip by flying Delta from Atlanta to Miami and then switching to American for the second leg of the trip to Curacao. Apparently it never occurred to management at the Miami Airport that this might happen from time to time. In the Delta concourse in Miami there are no directional signs -- in English or Spanish -- pointing the way to other concourses or the people mover or much of anywhere else. Basically you get off the plane and wander aimlessly until you accidentally come across another concourse. I finally stumbled on a map of the airport and found the American concourse. It was perhaps half a mile away. Reaching it entailed going outside of the secured area. What!
Yep, in Miami, depending on the concourse you need, you stand about a 50 percent chance you have to go out and then pass through security again. Oh wait, I said I wasn't going to itemize why I so despise the Miami Airport.
I had to spend nearly four hours in Miami on my return flight. There were two earlier flights that left for Atlanta once I was in the Delta concourse, but they were both full. I was rewarded for cooling my heels by being upgraded on the flight I did take, but but would have preferred getting home a couple of hours earlier.
Thankfully I only have to deal with the Miami Airport once a year or so. It's just the price you pay for living in the middle of the country and traveling to the Caribbean.
Nope, I'd never heard of anyone going to Curacao before. Since I've been back, however, I've heard about three different friends of friends who were all in Curacao at the same time I was. Odd. Perhaps an epidemic of some sort.