Thursday September 10, 2009
We are still away from Judi’s Gardens. Last week we were in St. Thomas. This week we’re in Curacao, and for the next few days or so we’ll be running Photos of the Day from the absolutely terrific Butterfly Garden here in Curacao. Yes, Virginia, there is a Butterfly Garden on Curacao (click on any picture for a larger version):
…and it’s great! To make it even better, it incorporates a first-class restaurant. Judi doesn’t usually weigh in personally on the contents of this blog, but in this case she made an exception. She wanted to make sure everyone knows that when it comes to the Butterfly Garden on Curacao:
“You’re two for two here, so you can’t lose. You’ve got a fantastic butterfly garden and an outstanding restaurant. Admission includes a terrific fruit punch. If you’re staying on the island they have live music some nights.
“The setting in this butterfly garden is so natural. It’s a natural environment for the butterflies.
“It’s just a very nice, relaxing setting.”
Unfortunately, it’s a bit off the beaten path, meaning it’s not in the middle of “town”. It’s on the road to the west end of the island (Westpunt). The web site (linked above) gives good directions, but you’ll need a car. Believe me, it’s worth it. We spent three hours there:
The butterflies are non-native exotics, imported as chrysalises — not something Judi and I normally encourage, though to some extent it’s necessary here because of the scarcity of native species on these very dry islands. But the setting is lush and overgrown, as any good butterfly garden should be, and it’s obvious that a great deal of thought and effort and even love has gone into creating a welcoming habitat for these special butterflies:
You’ll be surrounded by butterflies the entire time you’re in this garden (and Judi and I were both impressed that this is called a butterfly garden). Besides the lush setting, both the diversity and number of butterflies set this garden apart. Watch the Photo of the Day to see some really amazing pictures that we shot in this garden.
The manager of both the garden and the restaurant (talk about having to wear two hats!) is the superhero Ramona:
Ramona is, all at the same time, waitress and bartender and restaurant manager and gardener and lepidopterist and tour guide and garden manager. It’s pretty amazing that she fills all these roles and at the same time makes you feel, when she’s talking to you, as though you are her personal friend. But, most of all, when Ramona talked about her butterflies, I felt that she was a kindred spirit with Judi — that, for the two of them, butterflies weren’t a clinical experiment and certainly not “a job”, but a love.
You really need to visit this place.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s a restaurant?
Yeah, a restaurant. This is a butterfly blog, and food isn’t something we usually (or have ever) talk, about, but in this case I have to make an exception:
While we were there (three hours) way more people dropped in to eat at the restaurant than came by to see the butterflies. Seriously. And the butterflies are amazing. Does that tell you something about the food? This is the menu:
I had Stone Baked Grouper (not on the menu). If Judi hadn’t ordered the Beef Sate with Krioyosauce (on the menu), I would have thought my grouper was pretty great. Because it was. But it was completely eclipsed by the Beef Sate with Krioyosauce. Wow! This is amazing stuff. As soon as we got back to our rooms I Googled “Krioyosauce” hoping to get the recipe. Unfortunately, it turns out that “krioyo” is just the local Papiamento word for “creole”, so “krioyosauce” just means “creole sauce” or “local sauce.” In other words, it’s someone’s pretty amazing grandma’s pretty amazing recipe.
Ramona, can we please, please, please, please have the Krioyosauce recipe?
Oh, okay, anyway… here I am getting myself up from grovelling on my belly on the floor and letting you know what our lunch actually looked like:
The restaurant itself is open, airy, and inviting:
This is a butterfly blog, after all, and one thing we asked Ramona was if she got business from the cruise ships that call on Curacao. “Not so much,” was, I think, her answer, or something like that. Anyway, the reason is they’re so far outside of “town,” and the tour buses don’t stop there…
…to which, I ask, Why not?
If you’re a Curacao tour organizer out there, and the tour is going to Westpunt anyway, why not take thirty minutes to stop at the Butterfly Garden and experience a little bit of paradise? A lot of people on the bus will find it the high point of their tour.
Even if they don’t get to eat in the restaurant.
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