Published: February 26th 2009
February 21st 2009
Bon dia everyone,
It has been a while and a lot happened! Last days of January/first days of February - Panama
On a Thursday evening, just a few hours before I had to board the bus to Panama City I got an injury at my ankle. I was playing volleyball and jumped to block a guy smashing from the other side. His feet crossed under the net and I landed with my left foot on his foot. I couldn’t walk the moment that happened, I had to sit down for a few minutes. My ankle got swollen and was hurting quite a lot. I did the trip to Panama City anyway, and Eybis arranged a doctor for me at her work. I had to take x-ray pictures of the foot at the hospital, buy an ankle stirrup which I have to wear for at least a month to prevent my foot from moving sidewards, and a few tablets. The x-ray picture showed that nothing was broken. I’ve been told that the ankle will heal itself, but it takes at least a month, sometimes a bit more. So for at least 6 weeks I won’t be allowed to play volleyball....actually
any sport that involves jumping. That sucks!!!! All this meant extra costs again, near US$ 100,- ....a pity! Curaçao
I decided to fly to Curacao for two weeks. Although I knew it was going to cost me quite a lot, I thought it was worth it because it has been more than 9 years that al three of us were home together....my brother, my sister and I. My sister was going to Curacao as a surprise for my parents and she arrived on a Monday. When I heard that, I bought a ticket too and arrived the next Tuesday also as a surprise. Even my sister didn’t know that I was coming. It was great to see the family again...especially my mom was pleasantly surprised! I also took advantage being there and had one job interview, which went very good! In Curacao I didn’t go out that much, but I spent time with most of my friends which was great! I was there during the Carnival period and I saw the Children Parade and also the Teener Parade, which consists of secondary schools teenagers. Before the parades arrive I always walk along the route...you meet a lot of friends,
schoolmates and other people you haven't seen for a long time! Back in Curacao for two weeks made me even 110% sure that I don’t want to live in The Netherlands anymore!
For those who don’t know: Curacao lies in the southern Caribbean, just 60 km off the Venezuelan coast. It has an area of 444 square km and about 140.000 inhabitants. The island is part of the Netherlands Antilles, which is formed by Curacao, Bonaire, Saint Martin, Saint Eustatius and Saba. These islands, together with Aruba are still part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. The Netherlands Antilles will soon dissolve though. Curacao and Saint Martin will become autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while the other three islands will become like “counties” of The Netherlands. Life in Curacao isn’t bad at all. There is poverty, but not that bad as many other parts of the world. With a yearly income per capita of about US$ 18.000 general life conditions comparable to, let’s say Portugal in Europe. On the scale of HDI-index (Human Development Index) I’d give the island a 0,890 for living conitions. To compare: Netherlands 0,942; Panama 0,810; Australia 0,960; Suriname 0,760; Haiti
0,490; Venezuela 0,790; South Africa 0,700 (all figures are approximate). There are no official figures for the Netherlands Antilles because it’s not an independent country, only members of the United Nations are officially rated for the HDI-index. The capital of Curacao, Willemstad, lies to the south of the island and is divided by St. Ana Bay which is the entrance to the Willemstad harbour. This deep, excellent harbour is home to a big refinery, dry dock company, Free Zone and container terminal. It generates a lot of money and jobs for Curacao. The in 1888 built Queen Emmabridge is a pontoon bridge that divides Willemstad city center into Punda and Otrobanda and is for pedestrians only. The Queen Julianabridge, completed in 1974, also connects both sides and is for motorised vehicles only. For more info please visit www.curacao.com or ask me in a message ;) Problem with Aires airlines
I flew with Aires, a Colombian airline. When going back to Panama, my flight was leaving at 5:45PM. As normal, you should check-in about two hours prior departure. I arrived at the airport at 3:55PM and the check-in counter was closed! I thought they didn’t open yet so I waited
for a few more minutes, then I asked someone for the Aires staff. They said that they’ve closed their counter already and that I should go to the office. There they told me that I was late because I should have been at the airport between 1:00 and 3:00PM. They tried to notify me about this, sending me an e-mail that same day, around 10:00AM, telling me about the earlier check-in time. At that time, 4:10PM, the aircraft didn’t even arrive in Curacao yet but they refused to help me and check me in. “You’re a no-show, there nothing we can do about it now...you’re too late” a guy said. When asking why they check-in that early for a flight leaving at 5:35PM (they made it 10 minutes earlier) the woman said that there are several procedures and things that they have to do. Yeah right, for a flight with maximum 50 passengers? The woman then said she found a place for me on Saturday, but I became very angry when I heard that I have to pay US$ 73 to get onboard on Saturday! I even made a very rude comment when she said that, as a reaction, I
prefer not to write it here. I accepted to go Saturday (I didn’t have another choice, did I?). When I called the Consumers’ Association they turned out to be completely worthless. On the website of Aires I found the contract (general conditions) which are valid when buying a ticket and it clearly says, two times in the contract: “Be there two hours prior departure and never later than 60 minutes prior departure”. That means I was on time. You can’t send me an e-mail 3 hours before and assuming that I do have internet where I’m staying and that I must have read it.
I’ll officially send a complaint to the head office of Aires in Colombia and send a letter to a local newspaper in Curaçao. In The Netherlans there is a special agent where you can write such complaints against airlines and they help you. If this would have happened in The Netherlands, the airlines would have had to pay me my US$ 73,- back and pay for each day extra that I spent on ground! I really hope to never, ever have to fly with Aires again in the future!
Anyway that’s all for
now. The next blog will be out soon...about carnaval in Panama!!!
There are more photos below