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Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
October 1 1995
CONTENTS FOR OCTOBER 1995
1/ CTR HAPPENINGS BY PAUL GRAVELINE, EDITOR
Well as they say, "there's good new and bad news". First the good news. Some editions of the 25 September 1995 Newsweek Magazine carried a special section called the Virtual City. On page 16 of that section there was a feature called "Virtual travel" which listed 20 sources for finding information from various world destinations. Number 12, the Caribbean, listed the CTR as the places to go for inf. on the Caribbean. No other Caribbean source was noted so that might be considered some good new. However, there has been some bad news....
There were ( and still are) problems in the WWW distribution of the September issue. It still isn't up on the prime site in Manitoba: http://www.solutions.mb.ca/rec-travel/caribbean/
I won't be uploading this edition there until I straighten out the situation. However, you should find the more recent ones at: http://18.104.22.168/~aa462/caribidx.html
Neither site has the Caribbean Island Information files for Aruba, the BVI, Jamaica or St. Barths as yet. The St. Martin file is probably invalid because of the recent hurricane ( see below) and will not be distributed until updated to reflect hurricane damage. .
Compounding the problems was the fact that the CTR's distribution via the news groups was also delayed in September.
Please remember that the contributions, collection, producing and distribution of the CTR are a totally volunteer efforts and other priorities sometimes interfere with its output. As always I am grateful to those who contribute or distribute the CTR for without them nothing would be possible.
2/ HURRICANE UPDATE BY PAUL GRAVELINE, EDITOR
As readers are painfully aware the region got hit by two devastating storms last month. First Luis hit Antigua and St. Martin pretty hard, then Marilyn clobbered St. Thomas. Because there is still little fist hand info I've decided not to include too many details as some of them seem to be second or even third hand info. I have pulled the St. Martin reports which had arrived prior to the hurricane. I have taken seriously reports from the BBC and the VOA and based some of the following on them. So here's a general overview of the situation.
REPORT FROM BOB GREEN 29 Sep. 95
(Ed Note: The following report from Bob Green on Anguilla was received just an hour before uploading began (5 p.m.ET 29 Sept. 95) and was taken from a WWW site with lots of HTML characters. I've tried to edit it quickly for distribution but may have made a few errors. I though it important to include it in this edition. Paul Graveline, Editor)
On Tuesday, September 5th, 1995, the island of Anguilla took a direct hit from a Hurricane Luis. To understand how massive and powerful Luis was, you only have to look at a satellite image
We personally evacuated Anguilla on Sep. 4 and returned home on Sep. 10 to assess the damage. We were lucky and suffered no losses. Some people lost their roofs and some lost their whole houses, but most homes suffered only water damage. This is probably because the Anguillans started building low concrete homes after Hurricane Donna in the 60's.
Although Anguilla was badly mauled, it was more fortunate than the neighboring islands. There were no injuries, no deaths, and no need for a curfew.
The British sailors who arrived were able to help with re-stringing the power and telephone lines and repairing the high school, instead of guarding stores. They said they were impressed by how often Anguillans stopped at their work sites to pitch in and help.
There are also no leaves remaining on the trees, giving the landscape a much deeper shade of brown than usual.
Phone services and electric power were knocked out, of course, not to mention cable TV. People are busy setting up generators while the island is re-wired. It has been inspiring to see everyone cleaning up and repairing the damage. Johnno's Beach Bar at Sandy Ground was completely washed away, but Johnno was back in business with live music within two days after Luis.
After the roof blew off the phone exchange and watered all the switches, Cable and Wireless set up a satellite phone in their yard, then flew in a PBX and hooked it to the international fiberoptic cable, then started rebuilding the phone switch. Hurricane Marilyn missed Anguilla. It only brought a day of heavy rain that caused all the plants to burst out with new green shoots.
This added much needed color back to the landscape.
I have started receiving local and international mail again at the post office over the last week. So don't hesitate to write (our Box is 931).
Radio Anguilla is operating on AM 1505. They broadcast messages for people. Their phone is 809-497-2218 (fax 5432).
Most of the hotels have telephone service restored: Cap Juluca, 809-497-6666 or 800-323-0139, planning to re-open in November; Malliouhana 809-497-6111, planning to re-open Nov 17th, etc. To confirm reservations at a hotel whose phone service is not restored yet, send a fax to them care of the phone company as described below. The Anguillan hotels are gearing up for a strong Winter season in spite of the hurricane.
You can send a FAX to anyone in Anguilla via the phone company at 809-497-2501 or 2502 and people can pick it up at the Cable & Wireless office.
Fedex is delivering to Anguilla. I have already received a package containing my mail from Robelle in Canada, including a new Victoria's Secret.
American Eagle has been changing their schedules frequently as the situation develops. Currently they are running one flight in and out from San Juan at mid-day, with multiple flights not scheduled until weekends in late November or early December. Perhaps they will open up extra flights as the hotels reopen.
The government has then Bank of Anguilla which is accepting donations. The bank's telephone number is 809-497-2101. You can wire transfer a donation as follows: Bank America Int,
One World Trade Center NY,NY 10048
ABA #026009593 National Bank of Anguilla A/C # 6550452011
For further credit to: Anguilla Disaster Relief Fund Account No. 2011898 Or send a check by slow-mail to: The National Bank of Anguilla P. O. Box 44 The Valley, Anguilla For credit to the : Anguilla Disaster Relief Fund Account No. 2011898
All Hotels Target Nov. 15-Dec. 1 to Reopen. Five hotels are currently open and the rest plan to reopen by November 15 or December 1st (according to the Tourism Minister, who is also the Chief Minister, Hubert Hughest).
Generators Duty-Free For Another Week. /h4 You can import generators duty-free through October 9th. Previously you had to get a special permit (it was not easy to even find out how to apply) and then pay duty.
Liz Subin has put up a http://www.offshore.com.ai/luis/liz.html"Web page for the Anguilla Relief Fund. The fund has received 1 million EC$ (US$270,000) in relief donations so far. The moneys will be used to help the most needy people on the island to rebuild their homes, etc. The government has appointed a non-partisan committee to disburse the funds, headed by the Governor and including Osbourne Fleming, the leader of the opposition. The governor reports that Anguilla has few truly homeless people: no one was on the street or in tent or other community shelters. Those who lost everything were cared for and given shelter by family and friends, neighbors helping neighbors.
Tax-Deductible Way to Help Anguilla. US residents can direct relief donations to Anguilla and get a tax-deduction by sending their funds to the Red Cross, attention "International Response Funds .
Karen Greenaway's house on Little Harbour appears to have survived intact. Karen has reportedly been flooded with inquiries and even offers to help rebuild if needed. There are other holiday homes less solidly built than Karen's which were blown to bits, so perhaps they could use the help instead.
Although Anguilla was hit hard (the center of Luis went past the eastern tip of Anguilla, almost directly over Scrub Island), the Anguillans have made great progress already in returning to a normal life:
Thanks to help from the Royal Navy in repairs and community efforts in cleanup, the schools reopened this week. Unfortunately, many buildings still need expensive structural repairs.
Food markets never really closed: now they are restocked with fresh vegetables and frozen foods again. The items is shortest supply are batteries and bottled water (1/2 teaspoon of regular Chlorox in a 5 gallon bucket will chlorinate cistern water). Ripples Restaurant on Sandy Ground re-opened on Wednesday before the storm had even finished, providing free soup to the dazed survivors as they struggled to cleanup the mess.
Shoal Bay Beach is as beautiful as ever, and bigger, up to 75' wider on the upper end.
The people at Anglec and Cable & Wireless are working incredibly hard.
Power has been restored to essential businesses in the Valley (banks, grocery, etc.), as well as telephone service. The airport appears to be okay, it re-opened shortly after Luis (we flew in on Sunday, Sep. 10, from St. Thomas and there were taxicabs waiting for at the airport).
A lot of Anguillan boats survived the storm because they were pulled out of the water and trailered inland.
Trees are sprouting new growth. Palm trees survived Luis relatively well, especially Royal Palms.
Although many were uprooted, the ones that held still had many fronds. I even saw a re-planted vegetable garden today with new plants already 6 inches high. Grass was the only living thing that actually seemed to like the storms: all the bottoms are a bright green. The Anguilla Beautification Club, headed by Lydia Shave the Governor's wife, is organizing a work party to save the new Ficus Benjamina trees along Queen Elizabeth Blvd.
Albert Lake's gas station is still pumping and we are still receiving gasoline shipments from Shell. The station never stopped because it has a generator. Today the station in Island Harbour was open, with a nice new palm-covered sand beach behind it.
Island TV announced yesterday that it has ordered new satellite dishes and is rebuilding. Core service should be resumed within two months and full service within six. They would appreciate it if you paid your August bill.
The gym and the tire shop got power today and are open for business. At least we won't get flabby.
This weekend, Sat and Sun Sep 30/31, there is a big party at Shoal Bay with Chicken, Ribs, Fish, Beer, Rum Punch and Cold Drinks all at reasonable prices. I went by Shoal Bay on the way to work today and saw that Uncle Ernie's was rebuilt. Smitty's in Island Harbour is open, across the street from the beach. Had dinner last night at La Sirena : full menu. Ken Roger's Old House Restaurant has reopened and Ken is building a new high-quality restaurant on Upper Shoal Bay (the foundation survived Luis and the walls and pillers started going up yesterday). Roy's is open, so the British have somewhere to gather.
Village Cleanup by the Community.
Public Works working with volunteers have cleaned up the debris in many villages. Island Harbour, for example, had a lot of downed trees and wreckage along the shore, most of which is now gone, leaving a new wide sand beach on the harbour front. Water Supply. Water department starts repairing the pipes etc. in Island Harbour and Sandy Ground on Monday, then other outlying areas. Most the The Valley and immediate surroundings already have piped water restored.
We forget that the lighthouse is part of Anguilla and has four resident lighthouse keepers. They spent the storm in the tower while Luis washed completely over the island, taking away all their possessions except what they were wearing. They were completely alone with no communication for 48 hours. The storm shook the tower so much that the regular mirrors fell and broke, so they put up a backup light. Since the storm the lighthouse keepers have been re-supplied and are carrying on their duty of warning shipping, under very difficult circumstances. (Reported on Radio Anguilla)
What happened to all the little goats? Are they okay? The goats were left outside to fend for themselves through the hurricane and there were many casualties. Approximately 600 dead goats had to be cremated in a pile at Corito. Of course that still leaves 3400 goats on Anguilla. About 1200 chickens were buried in a trench -- haven't seen a fresh egg since Luis.
All the resort hotels are on the coast or directly on the beach, so they all had damage. However, the structures are still there (I can see them) and I can see the money and time going into repairs, so I can believe they will be ready for the Winter tourist season (Nov-Dec time frame). For example, Cove Castles, which will stay closed during October to replace custom doors and windows, will re-open ASAP after that, no fixed date yet, but they have telephone service at 809-497-6801, give them a call.
As of Sep 21, at least five hotels are open: La Sirena (497-6827), Paradise Cove (497-6603/6959), Rendevous Bay (497-6549), Pineapple Beach Club (497-6061) and Lloyd's (497-2351). I know that Lloyd's and Pineapple were open through the hurricane and never closed. b
What do you need in Anguilla? We have regular shipments of food and supplies. As of today, the island is short of batteries, candles, bottled water, generators, chain saws, and building supplies such as galvanized roofing. Of course, Anguillan entrepreneurs can, and probably will, bring in special shipments tomorrow to profit from the scarcity, thus solving the problem. If you want to ship some relief supplies.
Tropical Shipping has regular shipments from South Florida. The one thing you can be sure will be used is money donated to the Anguilla Disaster Relief Fund ; there are a number of families whose houses were destroyed and will need assistance to rebuild.
Sep 26 update: right now what we can use is anything, such as cintronella candles and fly paper, to keep down the mosquitos and flies.]
Where can I get more information? Call the Anguilla Tourist Board at 809-497-2759 or check the http://galaxy.cau.edu AAAnguilla AAAnguilla.html"Anguilla Home Page at http://galaxy.cau.edu AAAnguilla AAAnguilla.html. How are other Caribbean islands doing?
People have started asking me for pointers to Web resources containing storm news of other Caribbean islands. Here are a few. If you find any good locations for St. Martin or other islands, please send them to me.
"Antigua and Barbuda http://www.candw.lc/stlucia/weather.htm"
St. Lucia http://www.caribbeans.com slands/storminfo.html"
General Caribbean Hotel Status http://www.icanect.net/thomas ndex.htm"
St. Thomas Emergency Information Center http://www.cpscaribnet.com/skluis/top.html" St. Kitts and Nevis
My wife Mary Ann and I talked to a couple from St. Martin at Shoal Bay last weekend. They came to Anguilla for the day to get away from the depressing atmosphere there. They said services are starting to get back to normal, but there is still a curfew on the Dutch side. The French side seems to have recovered faster and does not have a curfew, but there is now a bborder crossing between the two sides. One the St. Martin newspapers resumed publishing and I noticed the Red Cross had a full page ad of people whom overseas friends and relatives worried about. This was organized through the Dutch Red Cross, but you may be able to send a message through from any branch.
Antigua got hit pretty badly by Luis. A couple of hotels got washed out to sea but the island does seem to recovering . BBC reports from the island indicate that the clean-up effort is fairly well organized and that it will take a while for things to get back to normal. It would seem from the BBC and VOA reports that while the damage was severe, they probably will survive all right.
Despite being only a few miles from devastated St. Thomas, damage seems relative light. The radio station remained on the air which is not what happened in St. Martin or on St. Thomas. Information which has come out indicates that they probably will be ready for the upcoming tourist season.
Well there's no question that SXM took a hard hit. I've received a number of questions about Club Orient on Orient Beach. As best as I cam determine only two buildings were left standing and the latest speculation is that the Brinks will rebuild but I've heard nothing definite only some second hand pieces.
The French side is recovering better than the Dutch. The BBC reporter suggested that in Dutch St. Maarten "sometimes democracy is not a good thing". It seems that on the Dutch side they are all sitting around arguing over who should do what while on the French side they just called in the military to clean the place up. Hence, while the damage was extensive, the French seem to be recovering better. I've seen unconfirmed reports that some of the French side places will reopen this fall. Of course, a major loss was the huge number of boats harboring on St. Martin which was considered one of the really hurricane proof places in the region. Reports in the last few days over the VOA suggest that places less damaged will be repaired first so that will probably mean that certain spots will be up and running soon but nearby properties might not get back for a substantial amount of time.
As was evident from the TV pictures STT looked like a bombed out area. It is difficult to see how it will be ready this season or possibly even for the 96-97 season. There have been food distribution problems on the island. Apparently there aren't enough trucks or the road are not passable. At least here, FEMA is at work as something appears to be being done but probably not enough for the tourist people.
In some places Luis went by and wrecked the beach by removing the sand only to have Marilyn come a week later an replace the sand! Islands like Dominica and St. Lucia sustained heavy damage to their banana and other crops. However, in the tropics, this type of vegetation tends to grow back quickly and while the damage was, no doubt, sever, it probably won't be long lasting.
A number of forecasters now predict that he region will go thorough a period of big storms like this. They say that the period from 1950 to 1990 was unique in that not many really big storms formed but that the trend is now changing. Hopefully, they are wrong but there have been some really big ones in the Pacific this year also.
As first hand reports from unbiased observers come it, I'll include them in future editions.
3/ CDC ADVISORY - CARIBBEAN AREA
(Ed Note: Thanks to Richard Trilling for providing the following highly useful information.)
The following information file contains information about tropical diseases that may be found in the Caribbean and is a public document published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION Date Last Revised: March 9, 1995
CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Countries in this region: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda (U.K.), Cayman Islands (U.K.), Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique (France), Montserrat (U.K.), Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico (US.), Saint Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, Virgin Islands, US, Virgin Islands, UK.
Other topical documents for travelers, including pregnant travelers and travelers with children, may be found in the travel directory.
Travelers to the Caribbean may be exposed to potential diseases from a number of sources. The most frequently reported illness is traveler's diarrhea, but there are other diseases which are found in the Caribbean or the tropics. These diseases are transmitted by insects, contaminated food and water, or close contact with infected people. Specific diseases are discussed under each of these topical headings. In order to reduce the risk of infection travelers must (1) protect themselves from insects, (2) ensure the quality of their food and drinking water, and (3) be knowledgeable about potential diseases in the region to be visited. Finally, diseases are not restricted to cleanly defined geographical areas, i.e. mosquitoes can fly over city or country borders, therefore, all travelers should protect themselves by taking the basic preventive precautions.
DISEASES TRANSMITTED BY INSECTS
Many diseases are transmitted through the bite of infected insects such as mosquitoes, flies, fleas, ticks, and lice. In general travelers must protect themselves from insect bites by wearing proper clothing, using bednets, applying an insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing, and if possible, avoiding high risk situations, i.e. outdoor activities during night time hours from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes bite, unscreened living accommodations, etc. If a mosquito net is unlikely to be available, consideration should be given to purchasing a portable mosquito net.
MALARIA: Malaria is a serious parasitic infection transmitted to humans by a mosquito. These mosquitoes bite at night from dusk to dawn. Symptoms range from: fever and flu-like symptoms, to chills, general achiness, and tiredness. If left untreated, malaria can cause anemia, kidney failure, coma, and death. Drugs are available to help prevent a malaria infection. However, in spite of all protective measures, travelers occasionally develop malaria. Therefore, while traveling and up to one year after returning home, travelers should seek medical evaluation for any flu-like illness.
Risk: Malaria exists throughout the year only in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Detailed risk information: Haiti: risk in all areas; Dominican Republic: all rural areas, except no risk in tourist resorts; the highest risk is in the provinces bordering Haiti.
Prevention: Travelers at risk for malaria should take CHLOROQUINE to prevent malaria. The weekly dosage for an adult is 500 mg once a week. This drug should be taken one week before entering a malarious area, weekly while there, and weekly for 4 weeks after leaving the malarious area. No other anti-malarial drugs are needed.
Additional malaria information is found in other CDC documents: "Malaria General Information", and "Malaria Info: Pregnancy and Children".
In addition to using drugs to prevent malaria, travelers should use measures to reduce exposure to malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and protect themselves from mosquito bites. These mosquitoes bite mainly during the evening and night, from dusk to dawn. See the section "Preventing Insect Bites" below.
YELLOW FEVER: Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by a mosquito bite. The mosquitoes are most active during the evening hours. Symptoms range from fever, chills, headache, and vomiting to jaundice, internal bleeding, and kidney failure.
Death occurs in about 5% of those infected. There is no specific drug to treat an infection of yellow fever, therefore prevention of infection is important.
Risk: Cases of yellow fever have occurred in Trinidad and Tobago. For the current list of yellow fever infected countries, request "Summary of Health Information for International Travel. (The Blue Sheet)".
Prevention: NOTE: SOME COUNTRIES REQUIRE YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION FOR ENTRY. (See "REQUIREMENTS" below.)
In general, if you are traveling to an area of risk, the easiest and safest thing to do is to get a yellow fever vaccination and a signed certificate. Yellow fever vaccination, a one dose shot, may be administered to adults and children over 9 months of age. This vaccine is only administered at designated yellow fever centers, usually your local health department. If at continued risk a booster is needed every 10 years. Infants under 4 months must not be immunized. Also, persons severely allergic to eggs should not be given the vaccine. Generally, persons able to eat eggs or egg products can safely receive the vaccine. The vaccine is not recommended for persons who are pregnant or whose immune systems are not functioning normally.
In addition to the vaccine, travelers should use measures to reduce exposure to mosquitoes, and protect themselves from mosquito bites. These mosquitoes bite mainly during the evening and morning hours. See the section "Preventing Insect Bites" below.
Requirements: If you are ONLY traveling from the United States to a Caribbean country other than Trinidad or Tobago, CDC does not recommend, and you are not required to have a yellow fever vaccination.
PLEASE NOTE: CDC recommends a yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling to areas of risk (Trinidad or Tobago, tropical South America, or Africa). If your travel plans include traveling to or from other countries in Africa or South America, then you should request and read the CDC document "Comprehensive Yellow Fever Requirements". You may be required to have a yellow fever vaccination. (Yellow fever vaccine is the ONLY vaccine that may be officially required for entry into certain countries.)
Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (US), Virgin Islands (US), and the Virgin Islands (UK) have no yellow fever vaccination requirements.
Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique (France), Montserrat (U.K.), Netherlands Antilles (age 6 months), Saint Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago,
require a yellow fever vaccination for all travelers (Age > 1) arriving from all "Infected Countries" listed below.
Countries Infected with Yellow Fever are listed on the left side below. If you are traveling from an "infected" country on the left side of the following table to a Caribbean country in the right hand column, you are required to have a yellow fever vaccination.
Certificate: After immunization an International Certificate of Vaccination is issued and is valid 10 days after vaccination to meet entry and exit requirements for all countries. The Certificate is good for 10 years. You must take the Certificate with you. Travelers who have a medical reason not to receive the yellow fever vaccine should obtain a medical waiver. Most countries will accept a medical waiver for persons with a medical reason not to receive the vaccine (e.g. infants less than 4 months old, pregnant women, persons hypersensitive to eggs, or those with an immunosuppressed condition.) When required, CDC recommends obtaining written waivers from consular or embassy officials before departure. A physician's letter clearly stating the medical reason not to receive the vaccine might be acceptable to some governments.
It should be written on letterhead stationery and bear the stamp used by a health department or official immunization center to validate the International Certificate of Vaccination. Check embassies or consulates for specific waiver requirements.
For comprehensive country-by-country yellow fever vaccine requirements, request "Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements".
DENGUE FEVER : Dengue Fever is primarily an urban viral infection transmitted by mosquito bites. The mosquitoes are most active during the day, especially around dawn and dusk, and are frequently found in or around human habitations. The illness is flu-like and characterized by sudden onset, high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, and rash. The rash appears 3-4 days after the onset of fever. Since there is no vaccine or specific treatment available, prevention is important.
Risk: In the Caribbean islands, low level transmission occurs throughout the year in most tourist-oriented islands. Seasonal and sporadic epidemics with higher transmission rates also frequently occur. The risk of infection is small for most travelers except during periods of epidemic transmission.
Prevention: There is no vaccine for dengue fever therefore the traveler should avoid mosquito bites. These mosquitoes bite mainly in the daytime. See the section "Preventing Insect Bites" listed below.
OTHER INSECT DISEASES: Risks: Other diseases spread by mosquitoes, sand flies, black flies, or other insects are prevalent, especially in rural areas. These diseases include: Filariasis (mosquito), leishmaniasis (sandfly), Oropouche Virus (gnats or midges), and typhus (lice). Details of these and other insect diseases can be found in the document titled "Other Insect Diseases". Also, read the next section "Preventing Insect Bites".
PREVENTING INSECT BITES: To reduce mosquito bites travelers should remain in well-screened areas, use mosquito nets, and wear clothes that cover most of the body. Travelers should also take insect repellent with them to use on any exposed areas of the skin. The most effective repellent is DEET (N,N-diethyl meta-toluamide) an ingredient in most insect repellents. However, DEET containing insect repellents should always be used according to label directions and sparingly on children. Avoid applying high- concentration (greater than 35%) products to the skin, particularly on children, and refrain from applying repellent to portions of the hands that are likely to come in contact with the eyes and mouth. Rarely toxic reactions or other problems have developed after contact with DEET. Travelers should also purchase a flying insect-killing spray to use in living and sleeping areas during the evening and night. For greater protection clothing and bednets can be soaked in or sprayed with PERMETHRIN, which is an insect repellent licensed for use on clothing. If applied according to the directions, permethrin will repel insects from clothing for several weeks. Portable mosquito bednets, DEET containing repellents, and permethrin can be purchased in hardware, back-packing, and military surplus stores.
DISEASES TRANSMITTED THROUGH FOOD AND WATER
Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness to travelers and are very common in the Caribbean. Traveler's diarrhea is the most frequent health problem for travelers. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites which are found universally throughout the region. Transmission is most often through contaminated food or water. Infections cause diarrhea and vomiting (typhoid fever, cholera, and parasites), liver damage (hepatitis), or muscle paralysis (polio).
For additional detailed precautions, be sure to read the document "Traveler's Diarrhea & Food and Water Precautions".
CHOLERA: Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by a bacterium. Infection is acquired by ingesting contaminated water or food. Symptoms include an abrupt onset of voluminous watery diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, and muscle cramps.
Risk: A recent epidemic of cholera has swept through the entire Central and tropical South American Area, but so far it has not reached the Caribbean region. The risk of infection to the U. S. traveler is very low, especially those that are following the usual tourist itineraries and staying in standard accommodations. Travelers should consider the vaccine if they have any problems with their stomach, such as anti-acid therapy, ulcers, or if they will be living in less than sanitary conditions in areas of high cholera activity. For the current list of cholera infected countries, request "Summary of Health Information for International Travel. (The Blue Sheet)".
Prevention: Travelers to cholera infected areas should follow the standard food and water precautions of eating only thoroughly cooked food, peeling their own fruit, and drinking either boiled water, bottled carbonated water, or bottled carbonated soft drinks. Persons with severe cases respond well to simple fluid and electrolyte-replacement therapy, but medical attention must be sought quickly when cholera is suspected. The available vaccine is only 50% effective in reducing the illness, and is not recommended routinely for travelers. The primary series is normally two injections with booster doses given every 6 months for persons who remain at high risk. Cholera vaccine is not recommended for infants under 6 months old, or for pregnant women.
For additional information about cholera, read "Cholera Information".
TYPHOID FEVER: Typhoid Fever is a bacterial infection transmitted through contaminated food and/or water, or directly between people. Symptoms of typhoid include fever, headaches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and constipation more often than diarrhea. Typhoid fever can be treated effectively with antibiotics.
Risk: Travelers to the Caribbean are at risk for typhoid fever, especially when traveling to smaller cities, villages, or rural areas. Typhoid fever is more common in Haiti.
Prevention: By drinking only bottled or boiled water and eating only thoroughly cooked food, a traveler lowers the risk of infection. Currently available vaccines have been shown to protect 70- 90% of the recipients. Therefore, even vaccinated travelers should be cautious in selecting their food and water. Two available vaccines provide equivalent protection against typhoid fever. The oral vaccine consists of 4 capsules taken every other day over a seven day period. The other vaccine has a primary series of two injections, spaced at least 4 weeks apart.
Recommendations: CDC recommends a typhoid vaccination for those travelers who are going off the usual tourist itineraries, traveling to smaller cities and rural areas, or staying long term, that is, a traveler for six weeks or more. Typhoid vaccination is not required for international travel.
HEPATITIS A: Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver transmitted by the fecal oral route; through direct person to person contact; from contaminated water, ice or shellfish; or from fruits or uncooked vegetables contaminated through handling. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, dark urine, jaundice, vomiting, aches and pains, and light stools. No specific therapy is available.
Risk: Travelers are at risk for Hepatitis A, especially if travel plans include visiting rural areas and extensive travel in the countryside, frequent close contact with local persons, or eating in settings of poor sanitation. In these countries the viral infection is very common during childhood.
Prevention: The virus is inactivated by boiling or cooking to 85 degrees centigrade for one minute, therefore eating thoroughly cooked foods and drinking only treated water serve as general precautions. No vaccine is licensed for use in the U.S. Immune globulin (IG) is recommended for international travel. For those traveling for less than 3 months, a single dose (0.02 ml/kg) of IG is recommended. For extended travel or residence in developing countries, a repeat dose (0.06 ml/kg) should be given every 5 months. Screening for Hepatitis A antibodies via laboratory tests to determine the traveler's immunity may save the long term traveler the need of taking IG regularly. IG prepared by the Cohn-Oncley procedure (the standard procedure in the U.S.)
is safe from transmission of infectious agents, such as hepatitis B virus, or HIV. Travelers should note that preparations manufactured in foreign countries may or may not meet these requirements.
Recommendations: When travelers are not visiting the usual tourist itineraries, CDC recommends an injection of immune serum globulin (IG), formerly called gamma globulin, for protection against Hepatitis A. IG should also be considered for even standard itineraries if questionable sanitation is anticipated.
PARASITES: Parasitic infections are acquired by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, through direct contact with soil or water containing parasites or their larva, or by contact with biting insects. Symptoms and evidence of infection may include, but are not limited to fever, swollen lymph nodes, rashes or itchy skin, digestive problems such as abdominal pain or diarrhea, eye problems, and anemia.
Risk: Travelers to the Caribbean are at risk of parasitic infections. There are many types of parasites and infection may occur in several ways: by eating undercooked meats infected with parasites or their larva; by eating food or drinking water contaminated with parasites or their eggs; by contact with soil or water infected with parasites; or through insect bites. Several types of parasites can penetrate intact skin and travelers are advised to wear shoes and avoid swimming, wading, or washing in fresh water (see Schistosomiasis).
Prevention: Travelers should eat only thoroughly cooked food, drink safe water, wear shoes, refrain from swimming in fresh water, and avoid contact with insects, particularly mosquitoes, biting flies, gnats, and midges.
DISEASES TRANSMITTED THROUGH INTIMATE CONTACT WITH PEOPLE HIV / AIDS: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS is found primarily in blood, semen, and vaginal secretions of an infected person. HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by needle-sharing among injecting drug users, and through transfusions of infected blood and blood clotting factors. Babies born to HIV-infected women may become infected before, during, or shortly after birth. In the United States blood is screened for HIV antibodies, but this screening may not take place in all countries. Scientific studies have revealed no evidence that HIV is transmitted by air, food, water, insects, inanimate objects, or casual contact. Even though HIV antibodies are normally detected on a test within 6 months after infection, the period between infection and development of disease symptoms (incubation period) may be 10 years or longer. Treatment has prolonged the survival of some HIV infected persons, but there is no known cure or vaccine available. For additional information request documents: HIV Transmission and Prevention of HIV Infection.
Risk: AIDS is found throughout the region. In the Caribbean, sexual transmission accounts for the majority of the cases. Heterosexual transmission is increasing. The risk to a traveler depends on whether the traveler will be involved in sexual or needle-sharing contact with a person who is infected with HIV. Receipt of unscreened blood for transfusion poses a risk for HIV infection.
Prevention: No effective vaccine has been developed for HIV. Travelers should avoid sexual or needle-sharing contact with a person who is infected with HIV. If a blood transfusion is necessary, screened blood should be from an HIV-negative blood donor.
Recommendations: Travelers should avoid activities known to carry risks for infection with HIV.
HEPATITIS B: Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver. Primarily, Hepatitis B is transmitted through activities which result in the exchange of blood or blood derived fluids and/or through sexual activity, either heterosexual or homosexual, with an infected person. Any unscreened blood or blood product, as well as unsterilized needles, or contact with potentially infected people who have open skin lesions due to impetigo, scabies, and scratched insect bites, heightens the potential for infection to the traveler. An effective vaccine for prevention of hepatitis B is available.
Risk: The risk of Hepatitis B virus infection is low to moderate for the Caribbean. The risk to the individual international traveler is determined by the extent of: (1) direct contact with blood or other body fluids, etc.; (2) intimate sexual contact with an infected person; (3) the duration of travel.
Prevention: The primary prevention consists of either vaccination and/or reducing intimate contact with those suspected of being infected. For those travelers expecting to reside in countries of high risk, as well as all health workers, vaccination is strongly recommended. Vaccination should ideally begin 6 months before travel, in order to complete the full series. The three intramuscular doses of adult vaccine should be spaced with the second dose given one month after the first. The final dose is given 6 months after the first. The vaccination schedule should be initiated even if it will not be completed before travel begins.
Recommendations: CDC recommends vaccination for any of the following people: any health care worker (medical, dental, or laboratory) whose activities might result in blood exposure; any traveler who may have intimate sexual contact with the local population; any long-term (6 months or more) traveler, especially to the Dominican Republic or Haiti, e.g. teachers, who will reside in rural areas or have daily physical contact with the local population; or any traveler who is likely to seek either medical, dental, or other treatment in local facilities during their stay. Hepatitis B vaccination is not required for travel to any country.
SCHISTOSOMIASIS : Schistosomiasis is an infection that develops after the larvae of a flatworm have penetrated the skin. These larvae can penetrate unbroken skin. Water treated with chlorine or iodine is virtually safe, and salt water poses no risk.
Risk: In the Caribbean schistosomiasis is known to exist in Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, and St. Lucia. For travelers visiting these areas, the risk is a function of the frequency and degree of contact with contaminated fresh water for bathing, wading, or swimming.
Prevention: The traveler cannot distinguish between infested and non- infested water. Therefore, swimming in fresh water in rural areas should be avoided. Bath water should either be heated to 50 degrees C (122 degrees F) for five minutes or treated with chlorine or iodine as done for drinking water. If exposed, immediate and vigorous towel drying or application of rubbing alcohol to the exposed areas may reduce the risk of infection. Screening procedures are available for those who suspect infection, and schistosomiasis is treatable with drugs. Recommendations: Avoid contact with potentially contaminated water.
RABIES: Rabies is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system. It is transmitted by animal bites which introduce the virus into the wound. Although dogs are the main reservoir of the disease, all warm-blooded animal bites should be suspect.
Risk: There is a risk of rabies infection particularly in rural areas, or in areas where large numbers of dogs are found. Some islands of risk are Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Many Caribbean islands have reported no rabies cases for at least the past two years including: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands (U.K.), Dominica, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique (France), Montserrat (U.K.), Netherlands Antilles, Saint Lucia, St Martin, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis, Turks and Caicos, and Virgin Islands, (US & UK). Check with consulates or local island health officials for specific up-to-date information.
Prevention: Do not handle any animals! Any animal bite should receive prompt attention. When wounds are thoroughly cleaned with large amounts of soap and water, the risk of rabies infection is reduced. Exposed individuals should receive prompt medical attention and advice on post-exposure preventive treatment.
Recommendations: There are no requirements for vaccination, but preexposure vaccination is recommended for:
Pre-exposure vaccination does not nullify the need for post exposure vaccine, but reduces the number of injections. For additional information request document: Rabies Information.
Summary of Recommendations for the CARIBBEAN: :
Travelers should (1) take the appropriate country specific malaria prevention measures (chloroquine, Haiti and Dominican Republic only), (2) follow precautions to prevent insect bites, (3) pay attention to the quality of their drinking water and food, (4) have a dose of Immune Globulin (IG), and (5) consider booster doses of tetanus (Td) and polio (eIPV) vaccines. (6) Depending on the locations to be visited, planned activities, and health of the traveler, the following vaccines should be considered: Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Rabies (pre-exposure), and Cholera. Details for these recommendations are found in this document. (7) Finally, the normal "childhood" vaccines should be up-to-date: Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR Vaccine); Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTP Vaccine) [ < 7 years of age]; and Polio vaccine. Refer to Vaccine Recommendations. For further information on food and water precautions refer to "Traveler's Diarrhea & Food and Water Precautions" document. Pregnant travelers or travelers with children should check the Fax Document Directory for additional information.
Anguilla http://www.wi.mit.edu/users/kevin/anguilla.html (under construction)
Caribbean Travel Roundup Sites
( only 1 issue here so far)
Jimmy Buffet Fans
(Ed Note: Buffett puts on a fantastic concert. If you get a chance to attend be sure to take it.)
St. Croix http://east_coast_ani.cybernetics.net/vi/virgin.htm
St. Kitts http:www.interknowledge.com/stkitts-nevis
St. Lucia http://www.candw.ag/stlucia/stlucia.htm.
CURACAO FROM THE CURACAO TOURIST BOARD PROVIDED BY MARY BRENNAN
This information was provided by Mary Brennan of Marcella Martinez Associates, Inc., public relations representatives for the Curacao Tourist Board. For further information contact the Curacao Tourist Board at 800-3CURACAO.
FAST FACTS ABOUT CURACAO
LOCATION: Curacao lies 35 miles north of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the five islands that comprise the Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire, Saba, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius are the others) and its closest neighbors are Aruba, 42 miles to the west, and Bonaire, 30 miles to the east. Curacao is one of the Caribbean's southernmost islands lying 1,710 miles south of New York.
GEOGRAPHY: Curacao is a hilly island of volcanic origin. The land is primarily dry; however it does support cacti, shrubbery and other flora and fauna.
CLIMATE: Curacao's tropical climate remains fairly constant year round. The average temperature is 80 degrees with less than 23 inches of rain fall annually. The island is outside the hurricane belt and its cooling trade winds maintain an average of 15 m.p.h.
HISTORY: Discovered by Spanish explorers in the late 15th century, Curacao has been a Dutch possession since the mid 17th century, as part of the Netherlands Antilles. For many years, England and France tried to conquer the island. The English were successful in 1800, but were defeated two years later by the Dutch. England eventually recaptured the island only to give it back as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1815. In 1954, the Netherlands Antilles achieved autonomy from the Dutch government.
POPULATION: More than 170,000 people (known as Curacaoans) inhabit the island's 174 square miles. Most live around the capital city Willemstad, which is the government, business and cultural center of the island. Its people are primarily of African or mixed African and European descent.
LANGUAGE: The official language is Dutch, but English and Spanish are spoken as well. Most people on the island speak Papiamentu, a local language blending Portuguese, Dutch, African, English, French and some Arawak Indian.
GOVERNMENT: The island is a self governing member of the Netherlands Antilles. Elections for members of Parliament are held every four years in the spring.
CURRENCY: The guilder, or florin, is the Netherlands Antilles form of money. The official rate of exchange is U.S.$1 = 1.75 N.A. florin. However, U.S. dollars and major credit cards are accepted throughout the island.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Larger hotels on the island which have casinos include: Curacao Caribbean Hotel and Casino; Sonesta Beach Hotel and Casino; Curacao Plaza Hotel and Casino; Las Palmas Hotel and Vacation Village; Princess Beach Hotel; and Casino Otrobanda Hotel and Casino.
Other hotels on the island: Avila Beach Hotel; Coral Cliff Resort and Beach Club; Hotel Holland; Lions Dive Hotel; Trupial Inn; Porto Paseo Hotel; and Club Seru Coral.
CUISINE/DINING: Curacao's local dishes reflect the international influence of more than 40 countries. Its cuisine blends Creole, Chinese, French, South American, Dutch, Indian and Indonesian. Gourmands will find a variety of cuisines to suit their palate.
The newest dining spots include the restaurants at the Waterfront Arches in Punda and also a fine selection across the bridge at Porto Paseo.
NIGHTLIFE: From gambling in the casinos to enjoying drinks in an outdoor cafe overlooking the water, there is much to do in Curacao at night . While disco's are numerous and popular, many nightclubs feature live music; tumba, reggae and contemporary pop music are the favored styles.
FESTIVALS: Carnival is the island's "national party," starting New Year's Day and continuing until midnight on the day before Ash Wednesday. The Tumba Festival is another popular event which is highlighted by the crowning of the "Tumba King" during the national parade which winds through the streets of Willemstad featuring elaborate floats and costumes and numerous live singing and dancing performances. Willemstad also hosts the monthly "Ban Topa Street Fair" a giant block party. Curacao's Jazz Festival, usually held in early autumn, features top jazz artists from around the world.
SIGHTSEEING: Curacao has much to offer active travelers either on an individual basis or through organized tours. Attractions include:
Dutch Architecture: The gabled, pastel-colored shops and homes along the harborfront have been a perennial attraction to visitors, who often feel as if they have been transported across the Atlantic to Amsterdam. Visitors also enjoy viewing old plantation
houses (landhuizen), some of which date back hundreds of years.
Mikve Israel Synagogue: Built in 1732, this is the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the western hemisphere. In addition to the Synagogue, there is a museum and gift shop which sells religious items.
Downtown Shopping District: Willemstad, long known as one of the Caribbean's best places for bargains, offers travelers a wide range of local and internationally known shops. Most stores are open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and again from 2 to 6 p.m.
Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge: Connecting the two sides of Willemstad, natives and tourists alike cross from Punda to Otrobanda and back on this floating bridge which is closed to automobiles.When ships enter the deep-water harbor, the bridge swings over St. Anna Bay and pedestrians can make the crossing via a free ferry.
Curacao Sea Aquarium: A collection of 75 hexagonal-shaped aquariums filled with over 150 different types of coral and almost every species of marine life found in the waters off Curacao are on display here. In addition, the Seaquarium offers visitors glass-bottom boat rides to the nearby Underwater Park and a chance to feed sharks by hand at a new exhibit called "Animal Encounters". Nearby, visitors can take a ride in an unusual "semi-submersible" submarine.
Floating Market: Schooners from Venezuela dock daily in downtown Willemstad to sell fresh fish, fruits, produce spices and more. The colorful awnings the merchants use to cover their wares make this a favorite spot for shutter bugs.
Underwater Park: A series of preserved reefs which extend for more than 12 miles comprise this park which offers some of the world's best snorkeling and scuba diving.
Christoffel National Park: This 4,500 acre National park is home to a variety of flora and fauna including the rare Curacao White-Tailed deer, and scores of iguana. In the park's center is Curacao's highest peak, Mt. Christoffel, whose green peak stands out as an island of lushness on this otherwise dry island. Guided tours are available. Especially recommended is a sunrise tour, which affords a fantastic view for miles around.
Hato Caves: Hourly tours guide visitors through these living caves which include a waterfall, shimmering pools and unique stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Senior Curacao Liqueur Factory: Senior produces the world-famous Curacao Liqueur, which is made from island grown, sun-dried orange peels. Visitors can take a tour of the facilities and watch the step-by-step procedure involved in making the different flavored liqueurs.
BEACHES: There are approximately 38 public and private beaches found in a number of secluded coves around the island. Beaches in the Westpunt area are especially nice.
WATERSPORTS: Curacao ranks among the finest dive sites in the Caribbean, with visibility up to 150 feet in certain spots. The area of Spanish Water Bay is one of the island's most popular spots for sailing and wind surfing. Snorkeling and water-skiing are very popular on the island and deep-sea fishing excursions are also available. Dive and watersports centers offering equipment rentals can be found at most island hotels. Curacao also has marina services and facilities for those arriving by private boat.
LAND SPORTS: The island has a 9-hole golf course called the Curacao Golf and Squash Club, and most major hotels have tennis courts. In addition to horseback riding, active travelers can jog along the special path at the Rif Recreation Area and hike across Christoffel National Park or up to the top of Mt. Christoffel, the island's highest peak.
GETTING AROUND: Taxis are abundant and available at the airport, major hotels and taxi stands downtown. Point-to point rates are posted.
TIME ZONE: Curacao is on Atlantic Standard Time.
ELECTRICAL CURRENT: The electrical current on the island is 110-128 volts, A.C. (50 HZ), which is compatible with American electric razors and blow dryers. Adapters are not needed. AMERICAN CONSULATE: The American Consulate is located at J.B. Gorsiraweg 1, Box 158; telephone (011-5999-613066).
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports are not required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. Travelers will need proof of citizenship and a return or continuing ticket. A passport or birth certificate is necessary for re-entering the U.S. There is a U.S. $10 airport tax to be paid upon departure from Curacao.
GETTING THERE: American Airlines provides daily service from Miami, connecting with incoming flights from across the U.S. ALM Airlines flies from Atlanta and Miami, with connecting flights available from most major cities on United Airlines. Air Aruba flies from Newark, Miami and Baltimore/Washington. Guyana Airways flies non-stop twice a week from JFK, New York. Charter flights are available from selected cities.
CRUISE SERVICE: A number of cruise lines call on Curacao throughout the year, including Crystal Cruises, Costa Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Regent Cruises and Cunard Lines.
CURACAO HOTELS AT A GLANCE
Curacao has a variety of accommodations for travelers, ranging from large hotels with casinos to small, family style inns. Many of the hotels have been renovated and expanded, and a number of new projects have been announced as well. Curacao currently has over 2,000 hotel rooms and expects to have at least 3,000 by 1997. Following is a list of accommodations:
THE AVILA BEACH HOTEL
Situated on its own private beach, this small, antique filled hotel was built in the 1880's as the country house of the island's governor. With the addition of its new wing, "La Belle Alliance," the hotel has nearly doubled the number of rooms from 45 to 85. New rooms have air conditioning and a private terrace. The hotel has an open-air restaurant and bar -- Belle Terrace -- overlooking the beach. Location: Outskirts of Willemstad.
CLUB SERU CORAL
Club Seru Coral is nestled in the hills behind the scenic seaside area of Santa Barbara, a short ride from an excellent beach. Individual cottages cluster around an attractive terrace with an informal restaurant and Curacao's largest freshwater pool. A perfect hotel for lovers of the "kunuku" (countryside), and an intimate, friendly atmosphere.
THE CORAL CLIFF RESORT AND BEACH CLUB
On Santa Marta Bay in the Western section of the island, Coral Cliff offers secluded tranquillity with 600 feet of spectacular beach and a backdrop of mountains and cliffs. There are 35 individual apartments overlooking the sea, each with a kitchenette, air conditioning and private phone. The open-air Santa Marta Terrace restaurant is popular with locals and guests alike. Also on premises are the Beach Bar and the Cliffhanger Bar with its spectacular view. Facilities include tennis, water sports, and a PADI certified dive center. Location: A half-hour drive from the center of Willemstad.
CURACAO CARIBBEAN RESORT & CASINO
The 200 air-conditioned rooms and suites have private balconies overlooking the Caribbean Sea and Piscadera Bay. Facilities at this self-contained resort include: four restaurants, private beach, pool, tennis, daily social activities, complete water sports center, dive shop, boutiques, casino, nightclub, beauty salon, and cable TV. Meeting and convention facilities for groups of 10 to 500. Location: Across from the International Trade Center, five minutes from Willemstad.
CURACAO PLAZA HOTEL & CASINO
This 254-room high-rise hotel rises from within the walls of the 150 year-old fort overlooking Willemstad Harbor. Just steps from the sights of downtown, the hotel has a swimming pool, beach access, and a variety of restaurants and nightclub featuring nightly entertainment. Meeting facilities on premises. Location: At the entrance to Willemstad Harbor, adjacent to the new Waterfront Arches restaurants and shops.
HOLIDAY BEACH HOTEL & CASINO
Completely renovated just a few years ago, this 200-room hotel now features a redesigned lobby and a new beach bar and restaurant. All rooms overlook the water and are air-conditioned with private balcony and cable TV. Facilities include a private beach, pool, tennis courts, playground, shops and boutiques, and a complete watersports center. A guest activity program is available daily. The hotel's Casino Royale is one of the largest on the island. Location: About a mile outside of Willemstad.
The Hotel Holland combines the best of the island's renowned Dutch atmosphere with the convenience of an airport hotel. Its 45 air-conditioned rooms have mini-bars ,TVs, VCR's and minisafes. Guests receive free admission to nearby Hato Caves. Free shuttle service is available to the heart of Willemstad. Location: Near Hato International Airport.
This all-villa, luxury resort sits atop a cliff overlooking beautiful Playa Kalki, a small cove complete with white-sand beach. Each two-storey villa has two air conditioned bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, sundeck, terrace and jacuzzi. An open-air restaurant, swimming pool and dive shop are all part of the Kadushi complex. Location: Westpunt, about 45 minutes from Willemstad.
LAS PALMAS HOTEL/CASINO & VACATION VILLAGE
The 100 guest rooms and 94 two-bedroom villas have air conditioning and private balconies overlooking the Caribbean Sea and Piscadera Bay. Facilities include: private beach, swimming pool and children's pool, tennis, evening entertainment, restaurants, a grocery market for villa guests, daily activities program, casino. Location: Two miles from Willemstad; near the Sonesta Beach and Curacao Caribbean hotels.
LION'S DIVE HOTEL & MARINA
Billed as "the complete dive resort," this hotel sits on Curacao's largest white-sand beach and features diving programs supervised by the professionally trained staff of Underwater Curacao. The hotel is located next to the Seaquarium complex with an array of shops and restaurants, and offers 72 air-conditioned rooms all with private balcony or terrace and a view of the Caribbean Sea. The hotel combines rustic Caribbean style with a friendly, casual atmosphere. Facilities include a fresh-water pool, beach, excellent water sports facilities -- including a professional wind surfing school -- shops, restaurants and the Underwater Curacao dive center. Location: Near the Princess Beach Hotel.
OTROBANDA HOTEL & CASINO
This 45-room property in the historic Otrobanda section of Willemstad offers views of passing cruise ships and the Dutch gabled architecture in Punda across the water. The hotel has a casino, coffee shop, open-air restaurant and bar with a panoramic view of the harbor entrance. Location: Just a short walk from the heart of Willemstad and its business sightseeing, shopping, dining and late evening spots areas.
PORTO PASEO HOTEL & CASINO
Also in Otrobanda, the new Porto Paseo Hotel & Casino is perched on the waterfront overlooking the famous red-roofed buildings of Punda across Santa Ana Bay. The Porto Paseo complex itself has a restored 17th century building at its heart. It includes a fifty-room hotel, a two-storey casino, dive center, pool and pool bar, all laid out in gardened courtyards connected by quaint, lamp lit walkways.
PRINCESS BEACH RESORT & CASINO
Located on a private beach near the Underwater Park and Sea Aquarium, this recently renovated low-rise hotel has two new ocean view wings offering a total of 341 air conditioned rooms. All rooms have balconies with ocean or garden views. Facilities and amenities include: freshwater pool and poolbar, two restaurants, theme nights, boutiques, a new Peter Hughes full-service dive shop, water sports, tennis, daily guest activities, tropical gardens, small and large meeting facilities and a casino. Location:
Three miles east of Willemstad; near the Lion's Dive Hotel.
SONESTA BEACH RESORT & CASINO
This $41 million resort opened in November 1992, and is located adjacent to the Curacao International Trade Center, just 15 minutes from Willemstad and 20 minutes from the airport. The 248-room, five-star property features a private beach; freeform outdoor swimming pool with swim-up bar, wading pool, two large whirlpools; a 5,000 square foot casino; tennis courts; health club; all watersports; shopping arcade and 3,000 square feet of meeting/function space.
An informal inn with a tropical setting, the Trupial offers 74 air-conditioned rooms, a swimming pool with poolside bar, tennis courts and a restaurant. All rooms and the main building have been renovated and redecorated. The pool area and terrace have been redesigned and include a new restaurant constructed around the pool. Location: Just 10 minutes from the heart of the island's shopping district.
HONEYMOONING IN CURACAO
More and more lovers of all ages are discovering new reasons to take off for the small, Dutch-Caribbean island of Curacao -- for a honeymoon, an anniversary, or just for a chance to be together in a friendly, laid-back and highly picturesque place.
It is no wonder, since the island seems made for romance. The license plates say "Bonbini" which means "welcome" in Curacao's own language, Papiamento. The island's favorite sweet refreshment is Lovers Ice Cream, and there's Lovers Car Rental for those who decide to get wheels and go off exploring the island's private corners.
And there's more. Most historians believe that the name "Curacao" came from the Portuguese word for "heart" -- coracao -- so Curacao's very name means love.
But the attraction does not end there. For lovers on Curacao there's a lot to do, and it's all safe, nearby and affordable.
Start with a walk in the historic capital city of Willemstad, clustered around big Santa Anna Bay, its two halves joined by the famous Queen Emma pontoon bridge. Known as the "swinging old lady" because it swings open to admit ships, the Queen Emma is for pedestrians only, and a walk at twilight when the Christmas lights that adorn the bridge are just coming on is enough to melt any heart. A short stroll away are historic forts turned into restaurants and boutiques offering low duty shopping; gabled Dutch buildings painted in ice-cream colors, and cozy little cafes overlooking the bay.
In the countryside (called "kunuku") are historic plantation houses known as "landhouses"; several have restaurants, one sports a weekly folklore show, one is restored as a museum, and one manufactures the unique Curacao of Curacao liqueur. All are worth a visit. In small fishing villages on the island's western end, you can dine al fresco overlooking the sea, after a swim in turquoise water from a perfect, white, beach. In the big, protected Christoffel Park you can stalk the small, shy Curacao deer, watch for Trupial birds or neon-blue iguanas, and see orchids growing on cactus plants. Nearby at a mysterious headland called Boca Tabla, you can climb into underground caves carved out by a thundering surf. And 'way out is the beautiful beach at Kadushi Cliffs, a tiny stretch of sand perfect for those in search of a little "quality time".
All of Curacao's 38 beaches beckon those with a yen for romance. Mostly small and located in secluded coves, the island's white strands stand out for their unique and dramatic settings. Some are surrounded by giant cliffs, others by exotic flora like cactus and sage. But they all share the same clear turquoise water and picture-perfect weather (Curacao averages less than 20 inches of rain per year), unique to this part of the world.
For the newcomer Curacao makes it all easy. Excellent daily island tours can be an orientation for places you want to return to on your own. Party boats leave from major hotels for sailing picnics to the island's secret beaches, or for romantic sunset coastal cruises. Most hotels have casinos, which offer a welcome to guests from other resorts. And year-round, a lively calendar of festivals and sporting events regularly draws island visitors together, with friendly multilingual Curacaoans as hosts.
With all this to offer to honeymooners, and other vacationers in search of a new romantic getaway, Curacao's hotels have begun to present special honeymoon packages in the U.S. and Canada. Call 1-800-3CURACAO for more information.
JEWISH HERITAGE IN CURACAO
Visitors to the Caribbean island of Curacao are often surprised to learn that the small country is home to one of the oldest synagogues in the western hemisphere. Built in 1732 by the island's Jewish community, the Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue is located in the heart of downtown Willemstad, the capital city of Curacao.
Curacao, a picturesque island 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela has a rich Jewish heritage dating back to 1651 when 12 Jewish families from Amsterdam crossed the Atlantic to establish a new congregation. Soon after, Jews from Portugal and Brazil who were escaping religious persecution joined the new Curacao community; by the early 1700's Curacao's Jewish population numbered over 2,000.
The Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue is reminiscent of the old Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam and features a pastel yellow facade and gabled roof. A Spanish tiled courtyard leads to richly carved mahogany doors and paneling.
Adorned with silver and brass, the synagogue's lofty ceiling is a dramatic contrast to the floor, which is covered with a thick carpet of white sand. The sand is said to symbolize the desert where the Israelites camped on their long journey to freedom.
It is also said to represent the custom of Jews in Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition who prayed on sand to avoid being heard in the temples, and to recall God's promise to Abraham that his descendants be "countless as the sand of the sea".
In addition to the synagogue, visitors of all denominations may visit the Jewish Cultural Museum with its priceless collection of ritual objects and memorabilia from Curacao's Jewish Community. Included is the synagogue's original mikvah (the ritual purification bath), a collection of ancient prayer books, a 100-year-old seder table setting, and silver from the 17th and 18th centuries. The museum also has a gift shop with interesting souvenirs including mezuzahs and seder plates.
Visitors are welcome to tour the synagogue and museum which are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and from 2:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A small entrance fee is requested for upkeep. The museum is closed on all Jewish and public holidays. Services are held each Friday and holiday evening at 6:30 p.m. and at 10 a.m. the following day. Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie for services.
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