Curaçao is a colourful Dutch island located just north of Venezuela in the Caribbean. Known for its beautiful beaches tucked into coves and expansive coral reefs rich with marine life, this island is one that isn’t as commonly known as others but a gem once you discover it. I’ve travelled to Curaçao twice now and have loved this island for different reasons each time.
The Dutch influence on Curaçao is widely present since establishing themselves as the island’s ruling class in 1634. Today, several thousand Dutch people have made Curaçao their permanent home. While Dutch is the official language of the country and remains the language of instruction in schools and is widely spoken in government and business, the island is also the birthplace of Papiamento – a Creole language combined of Spanish, Portuguese, African, Dutch and Arawak Indian and has evolved much over the years. In fact, while Dutch is the official language, Papiamento is the most common.
Now, there is one world in Papiamento that you will quickly learn upon arriving in Curaçao, and that is Dushi. Dushi means sweet or sweetie. This is used in the sense of pan dushi (sweet bread), dushi Korsou (sweet Curacao), but also as common word between young friends when greeting one and other saying, “Eeeeey dushi” aka, “hi darling.” Its also used by males to express their interest in an unknown female passing by.
Whenever someone asks me, “What is an important thing for me to know before travelling to ______,” one of my responses is to learn a few common phrases in the language of the country you are travelling to. So, for those of you heading to Curaçao, that could mean learning a bit of Dutch, Spanish, English or Papiamentu, since all are spoken. For me, Papiamento seems like it may be the most impressive language of the 4 to learn. Here are some phrases you can practise before heading over to the island of Curaçao:
Good morning: Bon dia
Good afternoon: Bon tardi
Good evening: Bon nochi
How are you: Con ta bai
I’m very good: Hopi bon
I’m fine: Mi ta bon
Pleased to meet you: Contento di mira bo
See you later: Te aworo
Thank you: Danki
Thank you very much: Masha danki
You’re welcome: Di nada
Please: Por fabor
Excuse me: Diskulpami
What’s your name: Con jamabo
My name is: Mi nomber ta
Where are you from? Foi unda bo ta?
I’m from: Mi ta foi
Where is the washroom: Unda e baño ta?
Eastside of the island/East of Willemstad: Bandariba
Westside of the island/West of Willemstad: Bandabou or Otrobanda
Rural little developped area: Kunuku
Rural undevelopped area: mondi –
0 zero, nul, nada
Days of the Week
Sunday: Dia domingu
Monday: Dia luna
Tuesday: Dia mars
Wednesday: Dia rason
Saturday: Dia sabra
Shopping & Dining
How much does this cost: Kwanto esaki ta costa
I’m thirsty: Mi tin sed
I’m hungry: Mi tin hamber
Let’s eat: Ban come
Pastechi: Pastry filled with cheese
Pastechi keshi: Pastry filled with tuna, meat or vegetables
Local cornbread: Funchi
Type of Fish: Múla
Lemonade made from limes, with ice added to make it a lime slush puppy. The most refreshing drink on the island: Awa lamoenchi/limoenchi
Fruit based smoothie, sold in little stalls across the island: Batido
Do you speak more than one language? Let us know which ones below and how you learned.
Kristen Sarah is a full-time traveller, tiny home owner and adventure junkie. She has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcha of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe.