family tree





















Images from my own collection 
Kindly inform me if you would like to use them. 
Thanks to Verele Ghering- Engels for all the amazing information. 
Other related sites: The Curacao Museum and Villa Belvedere 


"Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories"
-Unknown-


My grandmother comes from an amazing family. I love spending time with her and listening to her stories about her life, the people that make up our family and the amazing things each of them went through and contributed. 

It is also great to hear these stories from other family members, - and so this weekend we had quite the information session with loads of family members, a visit to an extraordinary house on the island and beautiful stories and memories. 

My grandmother is 83. She comes from a long line of interesting, talented and extraordinary people. She still cooks lunch for us every day, we sit around her dining table and laugh, talk and enjoy.
The photos of the house above are of Stroomzigt , a house that was very much part of my grandmother’s life when she just moved to the island, where her children went to the doctor, where her relatives lived and a place she was very happy to visit this past weekend. Stroomzigt is an exquisite home, filled with art, music, colour and a great deal of Curacao's history. Thank you to Verele Ghering-Engels for giving us the opportunity to see this with our families. It is such a privilege to share this with my grandma and the rest of my family. 

xx
Pris






"Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one" 
-Unknown-


 Photo courtesy: Verele Ghering-Engels 
The family Ecker




{hamburg}






Images via various sources

End of the month I am heading to Hamburg, Germany (or as it is officially known, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg) to meet up with my girlfriends. My dearest friend has been living there since February, exploring this fascinating and historic city, and now I am ready for a visit.



 Germany’s vibrant gateway to the world

Hamburg captivates visitors with its typical Hanseatic charm, extraordinary architecture from many eras, such as the St. Michaelis Church ("Michel"), unique atmosphere and more bridges than Venice, Amsterdam and London put together. The abundant greenery of the city and impressive views of the Außenalster and Binnenalster lakes enchant visitors.

A discovery tour to the famous port will allow guests to breathe in the exciting aromas from across the world in the air. A sense of freedom and longing combined with the circling of seagulls overhead creates a mellow melancholic mood at the port. The Old Elbe Tunnel by the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken (landing stages), which was a sensational technological feat back in 1922, is among Hamburg's nostalgic highlights and is well worth a visit. A sightseeing tour of the port is a real must if you wish to be able to say you have really seen Hamburg. You will get to know the Speicherstadt old warehouse district from the water, but it is also worth having a look when back on dry land. The largest connected warehouse complex in the world can now look back on its 100-year history. The HafenCity, which is well known beyond the confines of Hamburg, is currently the largest inner city development project in Europe. This is an impressive attempt to demonstrate how well living, relaxing and working in a city centre by the river can be combined.

The magnificent villas around the Alster and the elegant shopping streets between Große Bleichen and Jungfernstieg are situated in the immediate vicinity of the rather unassuming port district, the world-famous Reeperbahn and the trendy districts, such as Schanzenviertel and Karolinenviertel. On Deichstrasse, an old tradesmen's street with old residential and office buildings dating back to the 17th to 19th centuries, the past is within grasp. Those who prefer the present should take a stroll along the Elbe in the classy suburban district of Blankenese. The beach offers you a great opportunity to sit and watch the majestic container ships come and go. Hamburg also offers a wide variety of leisure activities, whether it be cultural events or a spot of shopping.
The Hanseatic understatement crops up again when it comes to statistical figures: the vibrant metropolis in the north of Germany is the second largest city in the country with the second largest port in Europe. However, as far as beauty and attractiveness are concerned, it is not only the locals of Hamburg who agree: the city is without doubt Germany's number 1. The unique atmosphere of this cosmopolitan city is sure to impress you. 
More information here




tulip history



Images via various sources
In the 18th century Istanbul was the apogee of the passion for trees, flowers, gardens and tulips in particular. Pleasure was sought in tulip gardens during day time while poetry and musical evenings took place illuminated by candles on tortoise back protected by glass shades.
A new period began in Ottoman arts with the ascendancy of illuminators, and in particular, of Levni; paintings were sent back to the capital from Paris by Mehmed Said Pasha, the Ottoman ambassador. Furniture and clothing that came from Paris began to promote Western fashions in the Ottoman capital.
A refined entertainment culture developed during the Tulip Era. The legendary Kagithane parties and the magnificent Sadabad palace deserve a mention each at this point. All this took place against a backdrop of tulips, like a symbol.
What was it that had triggered this sudden passion for tulips? Where did tulips come from? While the precise origin of tulips is not known, decorations firmly place tulips in the old world. Tulips pop up in Southern Europe, the Caucuses, Iran, and Anatolia. Wild tulips appear in figures seen on Northern Mediterranean shores, in Japan and Central Asia. 
Turks were the first to note tulips in Anatolia. As a decorative plant, the Seljuks valued tulips alongside roses, camations and daffodils. The first instance of a tulip in decoration in Anatolia dates back to the 12th century. Mevlana was the poet to refer to tulips in his poetry: "Come tulip come and take color from my cheek" the famous philosopher wrote.  More information here.

coffee lovely




Images via various sources

For those of you who enjoy a delicious cup of coffee in the morning, here is a wonderful little piece of history.

"Coffee was first discovered in Eastern Africa in an area we know today as Ethiopia. A popular legend refers to a goat herder by the name of Kaldi, who observed his goats acting unusually frisky after eating berries from a bush. Curious about this phenomena, Kaldi tried eating the berries himself. He found that these berries gave him a renewed energy. The news of this energy laden fruit quickly spread throughout the region.
Monks hearing about this amazing fruit, dried the berries so that they could be transported to distant monasteries. They reconstituted these berries in water, ate the fruit, and drank the liquid to provide stimulation for a more awakened time for prayer.

Coffee berries were transported from Ethiopia to the Arabian peninsula, and were first cultivated in what today is the country of Yemen.From there, coffee traveled to Turkey where coffee beans were roasted for the first time over open fires. The roasted beans were crushed, and then boiled in water, creating a crude version of the beverage we enjoy today. (Ahh so tulips and the way we enjoy coffee come from Turkey...don't you just love these people)

Coffee first arrived on the European continent by means of Venetian trade merchants. Once in Europe this new beverage fell under harsh criticism from the Catholic church. Many felt the pope should ban coffee, calling it the drink of the devil. To their surprise, the pope, already a coffee drinker, blessed coffee declaring it a truly Christian beverage. (my goodness....imagine if they had succeeded....no coffee....)

Coffee houses spread quickly across Europe becoming centers for intellectual exchange. Many great minds of Europe used this beverage, and forum, as a springboard to heightened thought and creativity.

In the 1700's, coffee found its way to the Americas by means of a French infantry captain who nurtured one small plant on its long journey across the Atlantic. This one plant, transplanted to the Caribbean Island of Martinique, became the predecessor of over 19 million trees on the island within 50 years. It was from this humble beginning that the coffee plant found its way to the rest of the tropical regions of South and Central America"

For more information visit this site





the triangle



Photos from private collection
Please do not copy without permission
First image 1933, third image 2011
(I love the first image)

Every week-day morning I drive (in my tiny car) from the East side of the island, over the Juliana Bridge to Otrabanda (this sounds far...but really its a 18 min drive.....with traffic). Otrabanda is part of the historic centre of Curacao. The streets are filled with beautiful momuments, most of them restored to their original state.

This is the building I work in. Last year the renovations were finalized.
It is such a wonderful building to work in. Beautiful on the outside, modern on the inside; splendid all-around.

tulipomania II


Tulips are remarkable flowers which seem to have the power to capture hearts (and break them). Although the Dutch Tulipomania is the most famous, Tulips have experienced other periods of "power" in other countries. The first mania occurred in 1500's in Turkey - which was the time of the Ottoman Empire and of Sultan Suleiman I (1494-1566). Tulips became highly cultivated blooms, developed for the pleasure of the Sultan and his entourage. During the Turkish reign of Ahmed III (1703-30) it is believed that the Tulip reigned supreme as a symbol of wealth and prestige and the period later became known as 'Age of the Tulips'.

It was during the early 1700's that the Turks began what was probably the first of the Tulip Festivals which was held at night during a full moon. Hundreds of exquisite vases were filled with the most breath-taking Tulips, crystal lanterns were used to cast an enchanting light over the gardens whilst aviaries were filled with canaries and nightingales that sang for the guests. Romantically, all guests were required to wear colours which harmonised with the flowers!
(more information on tulips visit Tesselaar)

the cuckoo clock

The Anna C

A few days ago (hmm this is now a few weeks ago), while driving to work over the Juliana bridge making my way down into Otrabanda, the voice of Robert Fulghum coming from my computer told a story about a cuckoo clock he once bought for his wife for Christmas. This story reminded me of a cuckoo clock that my grandmother had in her home in the Netherlands. I somehow remembered this clock as being a distinct feature in her home; one that was wound up every evening. It was the highlight of the day when we were visiting. The history behind this clock somehow escaped me. (probably due to my age…. Or at least some lack of consciousness regarding the history of things).

My curiosity for the clock took up most of my free time during the days to follow. I talked to my father about it, e-mailed my aunts in the Netherlands and had a distant cousin (who happened to be visiting Curacao that week) bring some old family photos. It was a part of each of our lives and represented something special. We all remembered it in our own special way.

In 1962 the Anna C left the harbor of Curacao. It was to be a grand journey. (Though I obviously don’t know this from experience I can imagine that a journey from the Caribbean to Italy on a cruise ship, taking along a family of 5 (and a car) can only be defined as ‘grand’). In my mind, I see them leaving an almost empty house, packing up whatever would fit into the Morris Oxford (I gladly admit I had to look this car up on google) for the 6 month trip they would be making through Europe. I picture them driving from their home, with great anticipation towards the harbor and onto the boat. As the horns echoed through Willemstad, the Anna C made its way to Naples, Italy, a place my grandfather noted: ‘ one must see before one dies’. My grandmother (I’d like to believe) dressing up for dinner (and surely lunch as well) in chic dresses and enjoying the cool sea breeze for 3 weeks of sheer bliss.

They left Naples for Pompeii, Vesuvius, Rome, Genua, Ivrea and Milan, slowly making their way towards Switzerland where my grandfather bought the cuckoo clock for my grandmother. What an impressive journey this must have been. To visit the old Italian cities- appreciate the immense amount of art all around and drive through the serene county side. How exceptional that only a few weeks earlier their very own car was limited to the sixty kilometers of our tiny island and it was now driving through Europe with the very same passengers.

The cuckoo clock made its way back to Curacao and hung in their house at the Dr. Maalweg until my grandmother moved back to the Netherlands in 1978. The clock, delicately crafted in Switzerland, was no match for the Caribbean breeze and did not function during the years it spent here. It was only back in Breukelen, The Netherlands that the tiny cuckoo bird made its way out of the clock again. How delighted my grandmother must have been; not only at the sound but mostly of all the memories this very special cuckoo clock must have brought with it.

I now sit in my office and hear the horns of the ships entering and leaving the harbor. As I drive over the bridge (which was not build yet in 1962) I can picture the ship leaving the harbor, my grandparents standing on the deck and the children waving towards whoever might be looking on as the ship departs on its journey. Oma and Opa have passed away. The clock however is still hanging in my grandmothers old home and I do hope that the little cuckoo bird still makes it way out of the clock every half and full hour of the day, simply as a remembrance to my grandparents.

a bit from otrabanda

Image from here

Since last week I have been working in the neighbourhood of Otrabanda; part of the historic capital Willemstad (though quite small compared to others, it has however served as an important one throughout history). Both sides of Willemstad are filled with (newly restored) monuments, most of them now housing offices instead of families. Their sheer size and colours make it impossible not to admire them.
Across from my office there is a building which looks much like the one in the picture. I will check later on if it is indeed the same one. Somehow you feel more connected to the history and legacy of the island when driving through the streets of Otrabanda every morning. It is a nice feeling.

tulip history

Picture via Flickr
At the Keukenhof in the Netherlands

Tulips are remarkable flowers which seem to have the power to capture hearts (and break them). Although the Dutch Tulipomania is the most famous, Tulips have experienced other periods of "power" in other countries. The first mania occurred way back in 1500's in Turkey - which was the time of the Ottoman Empire and of Sultan Suleiman I (1494-1566). Tulips became highly cultivated blooms, developed for the pleasure of the Sultan and his entourage. During the Turkish reign of Ahmed III (1703-30) it is believed that the Tulip reigned supreme as a symbol of wealth and prestige and the period later became known as 'Age of the Tulips'.

It was during the early 1700's that the Turks began what was probably the first of the Tulip Festivals which was held at night during a full moon. Hundreds of exquisite vases were filled with the most breath-taking Tulips, crystal lanterns were used to cast an enchanting light over the gardens whilst aviaries were filled with canaries and nightingales that sang for the guests. Romantically, all guests were required to wear colours which harmonised with the flowers!

(for the rest of the story go to tesselaar.net.au)



Not one of Flora's brilliant race
A form more perfect can display;
Art could not feign more simple grace
Nor Nature take a line away.
- James Montgomery
On Planting a Tulip-Root-






happy friday


Turn on the news these days and chances are the first news item you will see in the situation in Egypt. It is, regardless from which perspective you see it, a moment in history which will allow for significant change, not only for Egypt, but it seems for the entire region. Change is constant, a country as ancient as Egypt is proof of this. From the early nomads, the unification of two-lands, the Pharaohs and the Roman-Byzantine rule, to the modern regime. For better or worse, all change has some positive affect. Egypt is a country filled with history and beauty. A place in the world where pyramids govern the skyline and where wonderful stories of Arabian nights come to life. When watching the news, acknowledge what is happening, but take  a moment to remember the beauty of the ancient world that is Egypt.


"Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better"
-King Whitney Jr.-

 
By knowing one reaches belief. By doing one gains conviction. When you know, dare
From one of the inner temples near Luxor and Karnak in Egypt
From the works of Isha Schwaller

tulip mania


Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I saw the movie Wall street. One of my favourite parts of the movie is when Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) explains about the tulip bubble (tulip mania). There is a wonderful piece of art standing in his apartment about this (of which I unfortunately have not yet been able to find a picture of). The amazing thing is of course that since 1637, we have learned absolutely nothing about keeping an economy stable.

the lights

Photo from Own collection 
Octagon, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles 
Houses the Simon Bolivar Museum

It was a warm September afternoon in Curacao, the sun was setting over the Caribbean sea as we made our way through the busy streets to the Avila Hotel. It was buzzing with people and music, all emerged in the spirit of Christmas (yes, I know, quite odd... It was 28 degrees, in September and here we were at a Christmas market with a Santa Clause and all). The bottles of water and the ice-stand replaced the hot chocolate and gluhwein, while we enjoyed the view of the beach and all the wonderful lights shining on the Octagon. 

Yet another interesting Saturday afternoon on this wonderful little island. 

Hope you had a light-filled weekend as well.