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The Legendary Headache That Spawned Curacao’s Colorful Skyline

The Legendary Headache That Spawned Curacao’s Colorful Skyline

Ugh, headaches! They’re all-too-often an unfortunate by-product of travel.

The baby that won’t stop crying throughout your entire flight, lost luggage, surprise hotel service fees, LIAT – all can make our time adventuring around the Caribbean a head-splitting affair.

Not all headaches are bad, though. In fact, some can actually result in something truly beautiful. Take, for instance, the migraines formerly suffered by Albert Kikkert.

Who’s he? Oh, just the guy who had the bright idea of painting all the pastel-pretty buildings in Curacao’s capital city of Willemstad in the first place.

It was the early 1800s. King Willem I had appointed Kikkert Governor of the Netherlands Antilles – Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire – stationing him in Curacao. No doubt, this suited Kikkert just fine as he had previously been stationed in Curacao at one point during a distinguished military career that preceded his time in office. He was already familiar with the island, had established some business interests there; all good, right?

Wrong.

Back then, all of the buildings in Willemstad were stark white. This did not sit well with Kikkert, but not just because he had an eye for style. Apparently, the bright sunlight reflecting off the whitewashed facades gave him some wicked migraine headaches.

To remedy this, he decreed that all of the buildings be painted (at the expense of the building owners, of course) along the lines of the iconic skyline all visitors to Curacao enjoy today.

Thus ended Kikkert’s headaches, though that wasn’t the only benefit he’s said to have derived from painting the town.

Turns out one of Kikkert’s business interests in Curacao at the time was the island’s sole paint factory, ensuring that he pocketed a tidy profit in the deal as well.

Did Kikkert ever really suffer from migraines on account of the whitewashed buildings, or was it all a lie to boost his fortune? I don’t know, but I think we can all agree that the end result was worth any headaches.

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  • rmjb

    Nice! I enjoy these little tidbits of Caribbean history you guys post from time to time.