I’m very happy to report that ‘1000 Awesome Things about Curaçao’ received a beautiful shout-out from Algemeen Dagblad and Pers Bureau Curaçao columnist Jeroen Jansen last week. Jeroen is notorious for making thoughtful – and often sharp – observations on political and socio-economic developments in Curaçao and the rest of the Dutch Caribbean. (I’ve translated his column from Dutch below)
Written by Jeroen Jansen. Translated by Carolina Gomes-Casseres.
I don’t know how you’re managing, but Curaçao has its way of getting under your skin. The fact that our island allows you to sit back and relax year-round relies on a persistent myth if you ask me. Conned by idyllic vacation pamphlets and retirees looking for a sunny respite after a long career’s work in the cold. More often than not, we experience a trying life in Curaçao. An enjoyable ordeal that requires significant spunk and strength of character. Because we’re all cooped up, scrutinizing and judging each other. Denying each other the benefit of the doubt.
Since we all know each other we tend to place each debauchery under a magnifying glass. Then we painstakingly analyze the situation to cast a final judgment. Something (or someone) is found to be competent or incompetent. Mainly the latter. Those who muster up the courage to try something new encounter myriad challenges, naysayers and red tape. Leaving the island on an annual basis is therefore not a luxury: it’s a necessity. To escape the grip of mediocrity. Such a getaway serves to re-discover ourselves. Upon our return, we’re temporarily afforded a fresh pair of eyes.
But there’s another antidote to counteract bitterness. It comes in the form of a website. Do you know the website “1000 Awesome Things about Curaçao”? I highly recommend it. The site and accompanying Facebook page has been around for a little under a year. The initiative was founded by Carolina Gomes-Casseres and a team of Curaçao-born idea generators. Carolina and the majority of her team live off the island and desire to feel more connected. They cling to cherished island memories and excel [at painting a rosy picture] … perhaps more so than the people who live here every day.
“1000 Awesome Things about Curaçao” serves me daily treats of positive Curaçao news and often sheds light on little-known cultural curiosities and idiosyncrasies. Not just the big things, such as the Handelskade or the Dolphin Academy. No, the creators of this website draw inspiration from beautiful street art. Or an unassuming Curaçaoan who does good work. It warms your heart. It makes you feel privileged to live on this island. And makes you realize just how unfair our seemingly relentless focus on negativity is. Don’t get me wrong, self-criticism is not all bad, but it serves a purpose to a point.
Can we still experience pride in the little things our island has to offer? Without adding “yes, but…” rhetoric? Unadulterated by commercially-motivated egos?
We tend to fail more often than not, if you ask me. We have developed a comprehensive infrastructure that consistently serves to scrutinize. Newspapers, social media and experts are ready to attack. Can we permit ourselves to flip our focus for a change? Do we have to leave the island [like the creators of that wonderful feel-good website] to accomplish that? That would be a real disservice to our island and ourselves. We shouldn’t feel ashamed to report on and share good news and positive developments. They are very real and can be found all around us. Just consider your neighborhood street art. Or big things such as North Sea Jazz and the Spaceport. These developments deserve to be in the spotlight. Not the people behind them and whether they’re competent or not. That story has already been told.
So far, I have yet to encounter local skeptics when it comes to “1000 Awesome Things about Curaçao”. So I check the site on a daily basis and especially when I feel myself getting bogged down by negativity. And you should too.
These brave people have already collected 1,000 things that make our island the most beautiful place on earth. Challenge yourself to contribute to their list. Not to go ‘all Pollyanna’ or play dumb. But because it’s our basic human need to consider the bright side of the place we live and the people we surround ourselves with. If we give up on this, then we’ll never amount to anything exceptional and we will have self-fulfilled our negativity. Good luck, let’s reach 2,000!