A few weeks ago we paid a visit to former plantation house Landhuis Habaai. It was a few years (!) since our last one and although we pass by almost every day it obviously took way too long! Really too bad, because the landhuis is beautiful, cheerful and full of color. And Gallery Alma Blou, which now is located in the landhuis, is inspiring.
First a little history Landhuis is the Dutch term for plantation house. Most of them were built in the 18th and 19th century and each plantation had a different function. Some grew fruits and vegetables, others produced sugar cane. Salt mining was the most profitable one. Landhuis Habaai is built in the 18th century and one of the oldest in Curacao. In the beginning it was a plantation, later it served as a country retreat. In the 19th century it became a boarding school and orphanage. The name Habaai comes from a former Jewish resident.
Art and Culture When you arrive at the landhuis (you can easily park right in front of it, along the street), you already notice there is something artistic going on here. The landhouse itself, and even the mailbox, is beautifully decorated. Inside you first enter the gallery, which actually is the oldest and largest gallery on the island. Here you will find local and Caribbean art. From little paintings to large sculptures. But also ceramics and jewelry. All art has a Caribbean character and it is clear that the artists are inspired by the island: the sea, landscape, the people etc. The very kind woman who works here is more than happy to tell you all about the art. We were especially impressed by the work of Iris Pérez-Romero and loved the sculptures of Otmar Jenny. Walking a bit further you will find yourself at a wonderful bricked up terrace. Here, often cultural events are being organized such as concerts, book presentations and poetry readings. Take a seat, order a refreshing drink and enjoy the special atmosphere! It is a lovely place!
Landhuis Habaai Frater Radulphusweg 4 Willemstad, Curaçao
Phone: (+5999) 462-8896
Opening Hours Tuesday – Friday: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM Saturday: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Monday: Closed
Not far from the Lodges, in approx. 20 minutes, you will be in Barber, a sleeply little town with a beautiful church and a lovely place to enjoy nature: National Park Hòfi Pastor.
Driving from direction Willemstad, Hòfi Pastor is just right after the yellow church. There is a small parking area and when you enter the park you are being greeted by a sweet lady who asks you to pay a small entry fee. She will explain about the two trails you can follow, both approx. 2 km.
So off you go, first you will see the beautiful mango trees and when you walk a little further the oldest tree of Curacao, a giant Kapok tree, for sure will impress you! The Kapok tree was brought to Curacao over 400 years ago, by the first inhabitants of the island, the Caiquetios, a tribe of peaceful Arawak Indians who fled a fiercer tribe in Venezuela. The tree, in these hundreds of years, now has grown to be a national monument. Some say it has a ‘sensual’ form, although our kids just call it a tree for a little wizard ?, with it’s freeky shapes.
It is so nice to walk in this beautiful park and experience the feeling of being in the woods. It’s shady with many, many small and larger trees (you have to bend over quite some times not to hit the trees) and the smell of nature and green does so good. There are hawks and a few donkeys, butterflies and iguanas and you will see Kenepas and other tropical fruit trees.
At the end of the trail, which brings you back to the entrance of the park, there are picknick tables and here you can get a cool soda or fruit drink, while you are being chased by the chicken (and the kids play on the swings).
The park is being guarded by Amigu Di Tera, Friends of the Earth of Curacao, and they are working hard to keep it being a protected area where the trees will always bear fruit… so that everyone, especially children, have the opportunity of experiencing the wonders of nature.
When walking made you hungry, make sure to visit the snèk just outside the park, across the street. The lady there will make some good toast!
The park is open each day except on Friday. Opening hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM. The entrance fee is Nafl. 5 per person. Make sure to wear good shoes (no flipflops).