When my husband told me that he had won a two-person tour to Aruba, I certainly did not enthusiastically knock him down. To me, this is a cliché in the Caribbean, with no real exploration or adventure. Of course, I understand now that I am suffering from cold weather dementia caused by gray sky and cold temperatures. In fact, things got so bad that I heard myself complaining to a New Englander: “But we almost missed half of March!”
Fortunately, shortly after our charter flight landed on Aruba, my hissing noise disappeared. At the airport, I was a little scared when I saw the burning garbage mountain on the garbage dump overlooking the sea. However, this unpleasant place quickly disappeared, replaced by a vast electric blue ocean, which allowed us to accompany us as we traveled to our hotel on a short tour bus.
It’s easy to forgive some small flaws on Aruba, the “jewel of the Caribbean”. Aruba is only 15 miles from Venezuela. It is very small, only 20 miles long and about 7 miles wide. It is the most popular “ABC” island (Bonaire and Curaçao are B and C). This is a small group of islands that form part of the Dutch West Indies and enjoy perfect hurricane-free weather throughout the year .
With a strong economy, a harmonious population of less than 100,000 and a comfortable standard of living, Aruba seems to be a political paradise. In fact, it is one of the countries with the highest literacy rate in the Caribbean. On average, Aruba people speak four languages: the official Dutch, English, Spanish, and the native Papiamento, which is produced by Kula A mixture of African, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch developed by the slaves of Sokol. Communicate with the owner who fled the Spanish Inquisition in the 1500s.
We enjoy Aruba in resorts on the southern coast like most tourists. Starting from Orangestaad, the capital near the western end of the island, the resort stretches upwards for 10 miles to the expensive high-rise buildings near the world-famous windsurfing destination Boca Catalina at the northwest end. Aruba, nicknamed “A Happy Island”, has many things to entertain and please any taste. And, as we learned later, there are even opportunities for real self-made adventures.
But this will not come later. The first is Aruba’s sheer relaxing fun. GWV arranged us in La Cabana, an all-suite resort across the street from Eagle Beach, famous for its soft sandy beaches. (GWV offers a 7-day trip in the summer, starting at US$1,025 per person) The kitchen, living room, two TVs and telephone are too much for our needs, although we do use a microwave to heat up the leftover sea bream or Viennese fry steak. With the exception of MacDonalds or Wendy’s, the concept of light meals is not really popular, and it is difficult to find something less than a multi-course dinner. The “Dine-Around Plan” we chose provided us with seven breakfasts and four dinners in various restaurants. (US$419 per person.) For breakfast, it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to hop on the bus to high-rise buildings such as the Marriott and Aruba Grand Hotel, where we can enjoy the view and the rare pure milk and half a portion of milk – Half. There are many goats on Aruba, but no cows, so the coffee you usually drink is the consistency of sweetened condensed milk and latex paint.
Speaking of goats, they offer a great curry version at Boonoonoonoos, a popular tourist attraction in Orangestad, featuring Caribbean cuisine and cheerful fancy decorations. Jamaican bastard ribs are hot: 1-10 points and 20 points. (The main course starts at US$21) Another great place is the Germanic Villa, where you can taste the extremely rich sauces outside (the main course starts at US$23), while also admiring the yachts in the harbor and the tourists visiting the casino next door .
Most days are spent on beach time, usually under one of Aruba’s famous divi divi trees, a low bent specimen bends in a trade wind that lasts 15 knots. They provide shelter from the sun. The sun is 12 degrees from the equator, which is intimidating. When we are not gazing at the turquoise water on the beach, we revel in its warmth and translucency, which is very suitable for snorkeling. Snorkeling is very suitable for watery like me, because it has the illusion of a great adventure and at the same time is very docile. There are lemon-yellow angel fishes there, and I’m sure I am not the only one wearing a mask and fins and imagining that I am a brave diver in the deep sea.
Aruba offers a large number of organized water and land activities. Our first morning welcome at the local casino provided by GWV was very precious. Despite the hype, it works: we can hear sunset sailing, jeep adventures, and snorkeling trips, and then sign up at a discounted price. The most popular is Jolly Pirate, which is a 4.5-hour snorkeling cruise. A group of manly magicians serve rum poison and lunch, and show us how to get rid of the rope. ($55 per person) We also like the softer sunset sails ($40 per person), snacks and an open bar. (Yes, almost every activity on Aruba has an open bar.) Most cruises and land tours are provided by De Palm Tours, the oldest and most established tour operator on the island.
During our DePalm bus tour, we saw “Another Aruba Island”. (A half-day tour with snorkeling is about $42 per person.) The Atlantic Ocean runs from the California lighthouse at the northwest end to the north coast of San Nicholas at the southeast end where the rock hits the rock. Cacti and aloe plants dot the desert-like landscape, cheering for the colorful houses. On Aruba, the color of houses is a family matter; even the magnificent ground tombs are painted to match the homes of the deceased. Our bus tour took us to the Natural Bridge, a coral colony, where the waves crashed into a bridge for centuries. Unfortunately, what I am most impressed with this site is that you have to pay a quarter to use a dirty toilet without toilet paper. I think that is extra.
Our favorite attraction is the Arikok National Wildlife Park, where there are abandoned gold mines and pirate castle ruins. We checked the cave drawings and met a very docile “wild” donkey in this nature reserve, which occupies about a quarter of the island. When our old-fashioned tourist bus bounced on the dirt road through the vast park, our bus driver assured us that if the vehicle does break down (in fact, it seems very likely at some point) we should not worry because “this It is impossible to get lost in Aruba.”
A few days later, when my husband and I got lost in a rented jeep in the middle of Arikok Nature Park, we remembered his words. We also desperately wanted to remember where the bumpy road was, because we had already deviated from the track, looking for a shortcut to the natural swimming pool on the north shore. Our shortcut became a dazzling series of scouring paths, scattered with boulders the size of a washing machine. After two hours of fear, danger, and severe marital tension, we stopped to understand our direction and began to wait for the dispute to occur. (Look, I insist that we go this way.)
After a short but satisfying battle, we passed the remaining 6 ounces of warm water between us, watched the sun sink and vowed to teamwork. From our altitude, we can see another waste incineration site-a symbol of civilization that has been recently appreciated. “My boy, now I think that junkyard is very beautiful,” my husband said. With a clearer mind, we decided to go back to the original path. Miraculously, we finally met an Aruba who was also lost but was able to find a way out.
Please, dear readers, don’t repeat our mistakes. After we traveled, I learned that off-road travelers are a big problem in the park. The park authorities are developing maps and guides to help visitors enjoy Arikok Park and its spectacular rock formations, vegetation, prikichi (Aruba parakeet) and natural beauty without becoming an environmental pest or requiring rescue.