Around Aruba

Trip Start Apr 08, 2011
Trip End Apr 23, 2011

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Monday, April 18, 2011

I have long wanted to visit the island of Aruba, and I finally made it there! It is the westernmost Caribbean island, located just 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela. From the ship, we could actually see the tip of Venezuela in the distance. About 75 square miles total, the island of Aruba is 20 miles at its widest point and 6 miles at its longest. Oranjestad, Aruba’s Dutch capital city, is on the island’s southernmost coast. It is home to all of Aruba’s government buildings and main offices. 

We had absolutely no plans for the day; just exploring. As we left the ship, we considered renting a scooter or a jeep for the day, but decided against it and opted to foot it instead. Markedly different from the other Caribbean ports we visited on this trip, Aruba is obviously a tourist destination, with colorful buildings of shops and restaurants lining the main drag. No remnants of trash or standing water filled the gutters, as in the other ports. Instead, this place was reminescent of Santa Monica, California ... without the famous pier. 

Strolling past jewelry and clothing stores, we encountered our friends from the ship, Miriam and George, who were on their way to the casino. These two are big gamblers. Should we hang out with them and try our luck at the slots or explore the island? You know the Globetrotters ... we didn’t come here to gamble, we wanted to see what Aruba had to offer! We passed through the casino with the “high rollers,” then left the air-conditioned, smokey gambling spot to explore the resorts, beaches, and neighborhoods in the area. 

The rocky beach areas were home to dozens of iguanas -- plump, scaly creatures that look like pre-historic mini-dinos. They love sunning on the rocks near the ocean where they can scamper into holes to hide from nosey tourists who try to capture them. We, on the other hand, only wanted a few pictures of the lazy lizards. Aruba has lovely beaches just blocks away from quaint neighborhoods. In fact, one beach area was actually converted into a neighborhood; there were tents galore in a small section of the beach. We weren’t sure if the tent people lived there or if they were hanging out for a few days. Either way, they had a pretty good view. 

Sprinkled amid the nearby neighborhoods and thoroughfares were several monuments and statues honoring significant historical figures. We did a little shopping, then decided to go on the city bus (only $2.30 US pp round trip) to explore some other sites on the island. We ended up in Palm Beach, a resort-lined area that was pretty quiet by day, but most likely transformed into the happening spot at night. The beach was filled with sun-tanning bodies and water adventurers on banana boats and jet skis. The sand was sugar soft and the water a beautiful crystal clear blue. Why in the world didn’t we wear our swimsuits today? I couldn’t resist the temptation of the waves. I had to at least get my feet wet, so I pulled off my shoes and socks to enjoy the cool of the water; aaahhhhhh, refreshing! Michael rolled up the legs of his khakis (instant capris!), snatched off his footwear, and joined in for a little sand and sea between the toes. 

All of that walking made us hungry, so we stopped at the Westin Resort for a little lunch, then back onto the bus to return to our ship. I’m sure there was much more to Aruba than what we experienced, but it was a fun day. All the more reason to return to this lovely island.
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