A Musical Awakening in Curaçao

A Musical Awakening in Curaçao

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Fall under Curaçao’s spell

Curaçao awakens the senses

According to a number of scientific studies, the brain of a person who’s born blind or deaf has the ability to rewire itself to heighten other senses such as taste, touch or smell. This phenomenon is referred to as cross-modal neuroplasticity and theorizes that because the part of the brain designated to interpret the sense does not function, it transforms that part of the neural system for other purposes. Some have even compared it to a sort of “superpower” for the blind and deaf.

About 20 years ago I lost my sense of smell (aka “smell-blind,” “nose blind” or anosmia). There are some scents I miss (flowers, wine), while there are others I’m glad are gone (no need to clarify). But it wasn’t until the 2018 North Sea Jazz Festival on Curaçao that I noticed some of my other senses had become stronger, or, perhaps, more refined, and I was astonished when another “sense” was completely reawakened.

ABC Islands

In the Caribbean’s Leeward Antilles, Caribbean cruisers can comfortably ride out the hurricane season on Curaçao (pronounced cure-ah-souw). The largest of the ABC islands, Curaçao is 40 miles from the coast of Venezuela and flanked by n Aruba to the west and Bonaire to the east. The self-governing islands were formerly part of Netherlands Antilles (the Dutch arrived in 1634), and the most frequent visitors come from Holland, other parts of Europe and South America. The primary languages spoken are Dutch and Papiamento, a Creole language that combines Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arawak, and African languages. English is also widely spoken, but it is always appreciated when visitors attempt to use at least a few phrases in the local language.

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” -Bono

Since all three of the ABC islands were formerly part of Netherlands Antilles, their characteristic architecture is similar. Tropical-hued buildings with steep, red-tiled roofs line the harbor and colonial Old Town streets of Curaçao’s capital, Willemstad. Every souvenir shop displays a variety of products hand-painted with the artist-worthy street scene, and you’ll discover it’s impossible not to photograph it for yourself from every possible angle. The buildings’ colors always look fresh and bright because they’re repainted about every six months due to the salt air that denigrates the paint. A few blocks in from the harbor, creative paintings adorn building walls, tree branches are carved into figures and in a park, an upside-down boat is decorated to look like a huge, fancy fish. In other cities or areas of the world, all these colorful stimuli would seem like discarded junk, but somehow, here on Curaçao, the vibrant colors and textures kindle and inspire future art projects.