Mini Iyengar, Kristel Slagter, Jennifer van der Kwast, Eef Ouwehand & Kristel Gabriella at the booklaunch party in Curacao.
Please tell us a bit about your background
I would love to say that I was born and raised in Curacao, but that's not actually true. I was born in a hospital in Philadelphia and officially moved to the island less than a month later. When I was 15 we moved to the U.S.A. I finished high school in Florida and studied at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Until last year I lived in New York and worked as a writer (author of the novel Pounding the Pavement) and a film producer (Boys of Summer). Now I live in Amsterdam where I write for several magazines, websites, blogs and I am working on a top secret guide book project.
When you were a child, what would you do on a special occasion?
You get spoiled when you grow up on Curaçao. It's hard to take beaches seriously anywhere else. We would go to Barbara Beach by boat every Sunday. If we needed to mix it up a bit, we would go to Banda Abou for family trips to San Juan. We would go with my mom and her friends. They would go scuba diving, while the rest of us would snorkel and BBQ. Someone, one of my brothers probably, would suggest going hiking in the mondi. The day wasn't over until someone stepped on a sea urchin or a pika and ended up crying.
Did you always keep a connection with Curaçao?
Later when I moved to the States with my mother in 1991, I went back once a year. My husband and I would always stay at my father's house in Banda Abou during the holiday vacations. The cheapest day to fly was on Christmas, December 25th. We would arrive in the house at Cas Abou and there would be no food, water or coffee. I remember being excited when the Kura Hulanda Lodge opened up, because we knew it had to open on Christmas for the sake of the tourists. We would go shopping for food in the gift shop. We had chocolate bars and Fanta for Christmas dinner that year. Funny to write about it for the book – it will always remind me of Christmas.
In 2008 you came back a bit longer and stayed for 4 months, what did you do?
I made the documentary film, Boys of Summer. Boys of Summer is an independent feature-length documentary about the Curaçao little league All-Star team and their journey to make it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. We followed sixteen kids, training and at home with their families. At the end of filming, we took all the kids to Cas Abou beach. They loved it. At that time I also started writing regularly for Curaçao magazines. For Experience Curaçao I wrote a piece about cooking in Curaçao and did a thorough investigation of the restaurants on the island. I’ve also written for Hyatt Curaçao, covering the island restaurants, shops, beaches, sports and special events. That was the start of my food and travel writing career.
So when you were asked to write for the Curaçao Banda Abou travel guide by Divas Publishing it was a “thuis wedstrijd”?
Yes, I grew up in Curacao, and have been back every year since. I have been writing quite a bit about the island. I must say I was surprised that there were still so many locations in the book I did NOT know. Some because they were just brand new (e.g. Karakter and Landhuis Misje) and some I just had never heard of (e.g. Houtjes baai and the Hato paintings by Kirindongo). I loved exploring all the new locations and writing about them. I hope readers get a good sense of my excitement. It really is amazing that there is so much of the island still left to explore!
The book is available for purchase in bookstores, art galleries, and souvenir shops in Curaçao. For a list of al the sellingpoints, click here. Want to see a sneak peek of the inside, click here. The price of the book is NAF 55 (excl. OB)