Curacao is an island in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. Blessed with temperatures in the 80s, sunny skies and beaches to rival the best in the world, this Dutch island has all that plus enough colonial heritage and history – including the oldest Jewish cemetery in the Western Hemisphere – to please every tourist. My recent visit there also revealed some unanswered questions about its past.
First off, Halloween isn’t celebrated on Curacao. Santa Claus statues already tower over public squares and roundabouts, and the lamp post decorations were being put up while I was there, a full two months before Christmas. And yet, I think of this as a Halloween story . . .
The UNESCO World Heritage Site: Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa in Curacao, conveniently located in the center of Willemstad, is a hotel made up of the original houses and streets of an 18th century village. It includes the Village Square and other small squares and parks, some now with pools and sculpture, connected by ancient cobblestone lanes that are lined with the beautiful facades of colonial architecture. It is quaint and very pretty. Walking around you actually feel as if you’re in the old village. Hidden behind the charming exteriors which once were homes to slave owners and slaves alike, are the slightly faded remains of luxurious hotel suites and duplexes, some of which harbor more than a memory of their past. Some of the 82 rooms are inhabited by ghosts!
Whether they are the original occupants, their slaves, or any one of the inhabitants over the centuries is unknown, but sightings and eerie sounds have convinced some that a few of the rooms are haunted – perhaps as many as four rooms are scenes of late-night disturbances. Tales are told of strange sounds, doors mysteriously opening and closing, guests in their loft bedrooms being awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of people downstairs. Some even tell of seeing shadowy people walking around their hotel room. When the lights come on – no one is ever there – and there have never been reports of violence or poltergeist activity, just noisy sightings.
My room there, room 107, I’m assured is not haunted. Yet, while showering one evening, the closed bathroom door opened and no one was there. So – it’s an old building, winds came in the louvered windows, a step on a floorboard – probably something normal caused it, not ghosts. But that’s how found out about the other hauntings.
History reveals that over the course of centuries, generations of folks were born, lived and died in these converted homes – perhaps violently. Some would say that it is not unlikely for some vestigial remains of their beings to persist; some element, uneasy in death, left to wander in an unknown netherworld with an overlapping border to our own. Occasionally they may cross that border to be seen and heard.
So, the next time you are disturbed by the strange sounds of ghosts in the dead of night at Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa, content yourself that they are just lost souls for whom you can only wish a peaceful transition to the next plane, then roll over and go back to sleep. In the morning they will be gone, and you’ll still be in sunny, beautiful Curacao!