From 6am every day, colorful wooden boats dock along the Sha and Lionel Caprileskade in Punda, forming the floating market of Curacao. Located in its downtown Willemstad, this bustling market is the perfect place to experience one of the fading traditions of the Caribbean. Although the market is located on the street, the name comes from the boats of the merchants which are floating and are used to transport the goods.
Hundreds of Venezuelans travel from far away villages to sell a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish from their boats. These boats often serve as their living quarters along with their transport back to their village. This tradition has been passed along for generations among these families.
It begun due to a mutual demand and supply situation where the poor Venezuelans arrived here for better opportunities and Curacao needed fresh produce which could not be grown in the island. Their families are often left behind in their villages. Over time, these merchants have created their own little Spanish community to support each other and retain a touch of home.
This rich history gives the market a unique blend of cultures with people conversing in a mixture of Spanish, Papiamento and English.
The market is usually open from around 6am until around 2pm. It is closed on Sundays and most public holidays.
What do they sell?
From fresh fish to fresh produce, they sell it all! Papayas, oranges, melons, avocados, bananas and fruits and vegetables in all shapes and sizes adorn this market, giving it a vibrant outlook. There are stalls who will also clean the fish for you entirely.
Should I bargain?
The prices here are pretty much the same as supermarkets but without strong bargaining skills, tourists can easily be ripped off. Thus, be sure to negotiate! However, it is also important to remember that if you overpay these merchants you are genuinely helping some people in need of money.
It’s also possible to shop from the car itself as the vendor may be ready to hand over a few items directly to your car. Thus, traffic is anything but smooth.
Experience the tradition before it fades away
Due to the emergence of super markets and large retail stores, these merchants are suffering huge loses and may soon be out of the market. Most people prefer the conveniences offered by large supermarkets and thus this once popular tradition is fading away faster than one can imagine.
When in Curacao, experience this tradition before it disappears completely!
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