Thursday, April 30, 2015

X + Y + Z -- Three (Last) Quirks of #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)


In Curaçao, crossings are one of the many quirks used to trap us foreigners into hilarious clueless entertainment for locals.

Roundabout in Otrobanda
There's your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill roundabout or traffic circle. We all know the rules for that: if you're in the circle, you have preference. If you're outside the circle, you yield.

And then there's the plénchi di tráfiko.

Part of the reason this post is so late is because I couldn't
get a good image of a plénchi di tráfiko. Sorry. But this sign
is just before one of the island's most well-transited plénchi di tráfiko:
the one on the way to Banda Abou and Westpunt and the most gorgeous
beaches you've seen in your life.
To me, it looks for all the world like a roundabout -- sure, a bit irregular, like not the perfect circle roundabouts tend to be, but a roundabout nonetheless. A circular intersection. And so, as I enter into one, I yield.

And get honked all the way to Banda Abou.

In a plénchi di tráfiko it's traffic from the right that has preference. So as I enter I have preference, but then I must yield to the next intersecting road -- because it's coming from my right.

(It took me a good two years to learn that, because there are no signs.)

Yu di Kòrsou
Literally: young (as in "child") of Curaçao

Yu di Kòrsou, shortened to YDK, has become ubiquitous.
"United we stand," reads the caption.
Yu di Kòrsou is what Curaçao natives call themselves -- not Curaçaoans, not Antilleans. But one can become a yu di Kòrsou, too, and not necessarily by a change in citizenship. When someone displays behavior that's unique to Curaçao -- using, for instance, the expressions in this A-to-Z series -- or when someone has lived in Curaçao for a long time, or even if they haven't but exhibit obvious and extreme love for the island and its food and customs... Yep. All of these are qualifications for being a yu di Kòrsou.

But the opposite is also true. If you're critical of the lifestyle, if you don't like Curaçao food, if you're no fan of Carnaval or Sèu or the tumba festival or if you don't like tambú, or if you just think differently -- what some would call out of the box -- then it doesn't matter if you were born in Curaçao and have lived all your life here. You'll still find yourself seldom being referred to as a yu di Kòrsou. Especially if you're white. And if your skin is dark, then you'll more often hear the pariah term of black macamba (wigger, but in reverse).

And last but certainly not least:

English: hangover

Perhaps the most important addition to your vocabulary if you ever visit Curaçao ;)

This is it, the end of the #AtoZChallenge. I've had a blast researching for these posts, and I hope you've enjoyed them -- and, besides learning some funky expressions, gained a bit of insight to this cultural melting-pot of an island I've chosen to call home. It's been a pleasure to share Curaçao with you.

Te aki ratu, dushi hende!

Okay, we'll use that phrase as the last bonus question of the series. No hints... well, just one. In English, the equivalent is often paired with alligator :)

(Find updates on the giveaway here, and come back on May 8th for the announcement of the three winners of THE MIRACLE OF SMALL THINGS, a collection of short stories set in Curaçao.)


  1. Congratulations on finishing the challenge!
    I'm glad to have come across your wonderful blog, because I'm interested in languages. I've also learned a little about the culture of Curaçao. (I had to look it up in my atlas.

    I have no idea what "Te aki ratu, dushi hende!" means, but the hint 'alligator' sounds like a Japanese word, ありがとう 'arigato,' which means 'Thank you.'

    ありがとう (Thank you) for your interesting and informative posts.

    Letters from the Land of Cherry Blossoms

    1. Thank *you*, Romi, for your visits and your thoughtful comments -- and for your own wonderful posts! I'm glad you found out a bit about Curaçao, its culture and its language; it's a pretty cool place for someone interested in languages, so I hope you'll have the chance to visit one day. In the meantime we have the blogosphere to stay in touch :)

  2. See you later, alligator? Thanks for teaching me about your beautiful island.

    1. YES, Bob! Woot-woot! You're very welcome... And thank *you* for expanding my vocabulary this year :D Your posts were wonderful to follow.

  3. Hi Guilie - what great ideas for the last letters of the alphabet - that roundabout thing must be a nightmare ... and I'd get confused too ... I love the idea of Zjogoro .. I can say that I think .. must be the Cornish I've been struggling with this month. The Yu di Koursu ... it's good to know they can easily adopt you once their uniqueness has been absorbed by new incomers ...

    Fascinating view of Curacao - apart from the drink .. which I used to enjoy occasionally .. lovely place .. cheers and enjoy your weekend .. Hilary

    1. Glad you enjoyed the series, Hilary -- and thank you so much for your visits! Your comments always make me smile :)

  4. What a great A-Z, Guilie! Loved reading your posts & learning about Curacao from you.

    1. Thank you, Sabina! And I loved connecting with you. I'm so glad you liked the posts and the tidbits on Curaçao... Hope you get to visit someday :)

  5. I love the idea that you can become YDK by living there and loving the place. More places should be like that!
    Such a great idea for the A to Z! Though I think we all have an A to Z hangover now :-)

    1. Pretty cool, eh? Curaçao people are among the most open to diversity, I think, and although there are exceptions, the general rule is "love Curaçao and Curaçao will love you back" -- which I find extraordinary :) Thanks for the visit, Deniz -- and yes, definite A-to-Z zjogoro now :D

  6. Hello there.
    It will be nice to live in a time when prejudices, no matter how small, are no more.
    Congratulations on surviving the A-Z Challenge! I didn't get to visit your blog during the crazy month of April so I'm popping over today from the Road Trip.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

    1. Thanks so much for the visit! Glad you made it -- and congratulations to you, too, for surviving not just the Challenge but the Reflections *and* the Road Trip hops! Hat's off to you :)


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