When I told my bff that I would be visiting Curaçao last October at the same time that she would be there for work, she insisted I stay with her in her condo at Palapa Beach Resort, her family’s hotel. Knowing about this project from when we were little girls I was more than happy to accept this generous offer. How could I resist? After all I had spent most of my youth looking at the plans, which her dad had hanging on his office wall way before the first block was ever laid.
Achieving greatness away from home
Full name: Mercedes Vanessa Christine Brown
Nick names: Benz, Saidy, Merce
Occupation: Restaurant and bar supervisor
From: St. Maarten
Current home: Aberdeen, Scotland
Born on French St. Martin, Mercedes Vanessa Brown or Saidy as her family affectionately calls her, had a childhood filled with love by those around her. Raised by her grandmother and uncle on Dutch St. Maarten she did not lack anything. Her uncle and his family raised her as one if their own and her grandmother taught her the importance of religion by taking her to church frequently.
I have always been interested in other cultures. From a very young age my parents made sure to take us to cultural events all around the island of Curaçao, and there were many. So when I moved to St. Maarten I was actually surprised to find that most people were not that into the island’s culture. I get that St. Maarten has changed hands many times according to history books and I understand that the beauty of this little rock has attracted many nationalities who have all made sweet St. Maarten land their home. This of course can cause some dilution of the culture or enhancement depending on how you look at it. After all this island changed hands between the Spanish, French, Dutch and English so many times, it is enough to make one’s head spin. I’m sure they have all left a little of themselves behind. For many years St. Maarten was also considered Curaçao’s little sister (Curaçao being the largest of the 6 islands of the then Netherlands Antilles). You know, that one sister you keep back to make yourself shine brighter. I should know, I’m the oldest of four children and did this regularly to my younger siblings. In my opinion, the change of hands and the many nationalities who migrated here in the past have somehow all contributed a little to St. Maarten’s culture.
My first contribution on Women who Live on Rocks. We want you to feel at home on our rocks, and the better you understand some basics about our culture, the more positive experiences you will have here. Source: 6 Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting the Caribbean
At the start of my evolution or life crisis or whatever you want to call it, I made some extreme decisions. Yes, there was the drastic haircut, the career move and the change in wardrobe but nothing was more dramatic than the day I decided to jump out of a plane.
It was a Saturday morning. Me and five friends met at the small airport in Grand case, French St. Martin. I made sure to wear the proper attire and I looked the part, I guess. But what was really going through my mind was “will this look good when they pick me up in pieces in a nearby field?” I decided to go with a black ensemble. At least I’ll be wearing the correct color to my own funeral.
Home. It is a word that means the same to most: a place where you live permanently. To me it has different meanings. St. Maarten is my home in the most traditional meaning of the word but when used referring to Curaçao, it means where I am from, where my family is and where my roots are. “Mi dushi Korsou” or my sweet Curaçao is a magical place full of culture, history and beauty and I am honored to have come from its land.
I had the chance to drop by Curaçao to see my family a few weeks ago. It is a trip I try to make at least twice every year. Each trip home used to be the same: visit mama and papa, see some friends and family, drive by places I used to frequent when I still used to live there and of course stuff my face with all the delicious food I miss while living away. I decided that this trip should be different. After all, I am different now. I realize that I hate routines. Routines to me are lethal. This trip I wanted to explore and see places I haven’t seen in years or ever and accompanied by dear friends I did exactly that. This is Curaçao Unknown.