Monday, April 27, 2015

Weg'i Domino & Wara Wara -- Quirks of #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

The sharp crack of tiles against wood -- domino tiles, that is -- is a trademark sound of Curaçao streets. At every bus stop and taxi depot, at every snék (when the bachata music isn't too loud--and sometimes even then). Crack! Crack! Crack-CRACK-crack! They follow one another at impossible speed, as if the game is about who slaps them down faster.

And, in a way, I suppose it is.

One of these taxi drivers at the Otrobanda depot gave me
a curt nod as I held up my camera in a non-verbal question.
I snapped away for a good three minutes, but none of them ever looked
my way again.

Like those chess tables in parks, where it's a matter of pride how fast you make your moves, in Curaçao the weg'i dominoe is not just about the right plays but about the speed at which you make them.

The full phrase is

wega di domino
[WHE-gah dee DO-mee-noh]
Literally: game of dominoe

but no one says that. It's always

weg'i domino
[WHE-guee DO-mee-noh]
("game o' dominoe", I suppose comes closest)

Here's something really quirky about Curaçao (too quirky to use as a bonus question):

The Wara Wara [war-ah-WAR-ah], aka Cara-Cara elsewhere, is Curaçao's most ubiquitous (I'd say only, but what do I know) bird of prey. Out in the mondi (the wild) -- which is pretty close to civilization, really -- you can see them soaring up in the big blue, specks of brown flying high, high... Talk about a bird's eye view of the island.

And when you rent a car in Curaçao, it comes equipped with a Wara Wara

Yo, Wara Wara! I'm lost, swa. Any chance you know how to get to Montanja Abou?
(Image source)
No, Hertz doesn't have a roomful of cages with these birds in them, and they don't have one tetherered to each car's antenna. It's the GPS navigator. In Curaçao it's called Wara Wara. (God, I love this island.)


  1. I love learning about different cultures and writing about them quite a lot too, especially out of the African diaspora. I'm glad I found your blog through the A to Z challenge. Lovely bird of prey picture too!

    1. You'd have a field day here in Curaçao, Stephanie. There's a diaspora museum here, quite well-documented and brilliantly set up... Harrowing and bone-chilling at times (there's a replica of a slave ship hold that makes my skin prickle just thinking about it), but--well, that's part of the intention, isn't it? How can we move forward if we keep repeating the same cruelties?

      Thanks so much for the visit!

  2. Dominoes is a great game! I love the photos. It brought to mind the folks I saw playing chess/checkers/dominoes along the beach tables of Waikiki, when I was there in '85.
    The Wara Wara is a regal-looking bird.

    1. Dominoes seem such a coastal thing, don't they? Or maybe it's a small-town thing. Provincial. Laid-back. It speaks to me of leisure, of coffee and tobacco, and loud laughter :)

  3. Wara wara - what a word, what a sound it makes, like the clack clack of dominoes. We use the word wara wara here in South Africa - as in when they talk too much or blab ad nauseam we say they just wara wara all the time! Thanks Guilie :)

    1. I did *not* know that, Susan! How cool! I can totally hear the "blabbing" in "wara wara", hahahaha... In Mexico we'd say "wiri wiri" (though we'd spell it "güiri güiri") for that same meaning. And you know what? I wouldn't be surprised if the name of the bird came from an onomatopoeic attempt to capture its call... It does sound, sort of, like someone talking too much :D

      Thanks for the visit, Susan!

  4. Are they playing a game with dominoes or setting up a run? Love a good domino run - very satisfying!

  5. That bird is fabulous, what wonderful colours! over here dominoes is not played outdoors but it is played in pubs. Liz

  6. Hi Guilie - the bird is the GPS .. makes sense .. a pen name for GPS - better than GPS .. Wara Wara - I like that .. then Dominoes played fast .. such fun to watch .. mesmerises me just standing looking ..

    Cheers HIlary

  7. I'm happy they were okay with you taking photos. Dominoes is a nice game, I should get a set ;)

  8. Wow, lots of cool information today! Love that the dominoes are a big game there. Thanks for sharing this! Also, thanks for visiting my W Post earlier.

  9. Hah :D We call our GPS Carmen. But I guess a bird of prey is a lot more badass :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

  10. Curacao sounds fascinating, thanks to your posts. ☺ I'd love to visit some day. We have a Garmin GPS. Since the voice we use with it is female, my husband has dubbed her "Carmelina".


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