Category Archives: blue bead

10 things I’m going to miss about Statia

In little more than one week I will be moving back to Curacao. There are many nice things to look forward to, but of course there are things I am going to miss too. Except for my friends, young and old, and special people I met, these are the 10 things I will miss most of all about the Golden Rock:

1. The travel time

Wherever you are on Statia and wherever you need to go, travel time is minimal on an island of 21 km2. Have an appointment at 11:00 sharp? Leave home at 11:00 and you will be right on time, Statia time.

2. My scooter

Although I sometimes have to tape my scooter to prevent it from falling apart, I love my blue monster. No need for air conditioning, the wind through your hair and Makeda’s arms around my waist.

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3. My running route

As a runner you love certain roads. I will miss running the road to the Botanical Garden and the road at Lynch going down towards the Berkel plantation.

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4. The animal shelter

For almost two years I have been volunteering at the SEAWF animal shelter. How I will miss all these cuddles!

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5. The roaming animals

Although there are roaming animals on Curacao, it is nothing compared to the number of cattle and goats on Statia. I know, they are supposed to be fenced and kept under control, but I still love it when a big  bull is slowly peering through the shutters of the pub.

6. Everybody greeting each other

On Statia everybody is greeting each other. Waving, honking, nodding, “good morning”. I think I’m going to stick with this habit on Curacao.

7. The Leatherbacks swim team

Makeda has been swimming with the Leatherbacks since almost two years and I have been a coach for a year and a half. I will miss all my kids, the swim meets to St Maarten and St Croix, the fun we had and even the times they drove me crazy 🙂 I love you, guys!

Leatherbacks

8. Turtles hatching 

I’ve witnessed Leatherback turtles, Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles hatch on Zeelandia beach a few times. This is so special!

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9. My big yard with fruit trees

Mango’s, guavas, bananas, soursop, starfruit, cherries, cashews, sugarapple, papaya… and a hammock.

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10. The chance to find my own blue bead

Blue beads are very special for St Eustatius. I have been given one by someone special, but I never found my own. If you find your own, or as some say ‘if a blue bead finds you’, you will always come back  to Statia.

We’ll see where the wind takes me.

Next: 10 things I’m looking forward to about Curacao.

 

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The Blue Bead & another story of slavery

This is “my” blue bead.

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In the 17th century the Dutch used these pentagonal shaped blue beads for trading. The beads were made in Amsterdam, out of glass. In St. Eustatius they were given to slaves as “wages”. {Sometimes I am so terribly ashamed of being Dutch!!}

picture from the Secar website

After emancipation, the legend says the ex-slaves gathered at the cliffs and threw their beads in the sea to celebrate freedom. Up till today blue beads can be found in the sea or on land. Mostly they are found on a dive spot called “the Blue Bead Hole” after a storm when the sand has been stirred up. It’s likely a ship loaded with blue beads sank there (or maybe all the blue beads thrown in the ocean by the freed slaves somehow ended up at the exact same spot, hm hm…).

Occasionally the beads can be found on the beach or somewhere in the mud on the roadside.

There are many fake blue beads around, which you can buy for a few dollars at gift shops. The real blue bead though is always pentagonal, sometimes a bit rounded by the sand over the years, and has this typical dark blue colour. There are very few white beads found too, but it’s just a handful of people on the island that ever found a white one. And be assured: a real blue bead will never be for sale for a few dollars. I heard stories of blue beads being sold for US$ 250 or US$ 300. But a real Statian will never sell his blue bead out of respect for the slaves. You can give it away, but not sell it.

I can tell you it’s a funny feeling having a blue bead. It may be “just a bead”, a useless piece of blue glass, but knowing that one day “your” bead once was a slave’s only possession makes it… unique.

The legend says you don’t find blue beads. The blue bead finds you.

And if you’re found, you will always come back to Statia.

I will always come back to Statia.