Sunday, 24 March 2013

Aruba. "A whole new world"!!!

March 21,2013
Welcome to the Dutch West Indies, also known as the ABC islands. Today we get to explore the island the Beach Boys made us all want to see. Aruba! We had booked a car rental but figuring out exactly how to find it was our first challenge. Coming off the cruise boa there were lots of offers for trips around the island by enthusiastic entrepreneurs with various modes of transportation, from open bus like vehicles that would carry 30 or more, to jeeps, and  air conditioned cars(few of these).
It was hot and humid as usual so we were looking forward to the car. One of the locals offered assistance first in the form of a tour and then when we explained he pulled out his cell and asked if we had a phone number. Corrine pulled out the agreement and found the number. Within ten minutes a driver picked us up and we were soon on our adventure. The city could have been any place in southern California and as we drove out to the less populated area we could see an expanse of organ pipe and barrel cacti and we realized just how arid Aruba was. What really caught our attention were th brightly painted houses. Churchill Orange was a favourite colour for buildings. Tyson could happily live in a bright orange and blue house and be right in style. The beach we wanted to go to was at the far end of the island but we realized the map scale was only a few km per inch because we were there in twenty minutes. We first went to the point where a light house was marked. We did find a light but the house part was a little sketchy. After winding through a little town filled with bright houses and deserted buildings depending on where you looked we found a road that looked like it might go to the water. Signage is not done. I guess they figure tourists should come with a guide or see the whole island while looking for a specific place. Happily we found a snorkel gear rental and were soon ready for our first snorkelling experience. Those who know how much Bet loves to put her face in the water may be curious about how this might turn out .I put the mask on and immediately felt panic as I was sure I was going to smother as it completely plugged my nose. And I was without my glasses so felt impeded by my blindness.  We waded out a little and Corinne and Scott gave us pointers and encouragement. ‘Just relax. Breath through your mouth. Listen to the rhythm of breathing into the snorkel tube.” Okay I can do that but when I tried to put my masked face down into the water panic over came me and I thought “Oh great we just wasted $20 because this is not going to happen” I tried again and sort of got floating on my belly with the mask revealing little fish right in front of me but the little things came at me and began nipping my hands,” Piranhas!” I thought and found footing and pulled the snorkel out of my mouth so I could gasp some air. Scott talked me out a little further and I tried again. This time I wasn’t so close to the shore where people had obviously been feeding the fish and I could see yellow and black striped fish and blue fish with black fringes, little orange fish with brown fringe.. Wow It was so amazing. I was getting the hang of the breathing thing and though I couldn’t wear my glasses I was seeing some pretty awesome things. There was a larger Aqua blue fish that was just amazing swimming right below me. Rex was being coached by Corinne and fighting the urge to breath through his nose. It was exhausting trying to feel natural with the snorkel. I was finally really relaxed and felt more secure in the water so I really got into the explore. We swam over a coral reef, not as colourful as some but with lots of interesting kinds of coral and schools of fish.  I really was amazed, amazed not only at what we saw but that we could do it.. That I could do it an enjoy it so much! The water was wonderfully warm and clear as we were there before early enough that we were almost the only ones exploring where we were. Rex tired and went back for his camera but I stayed a bit longer as I really was having such a fun time.  Once we had our fill we headed buck to return gear. Somehow between coming out of the water and collecting stuff to return it we lost one of the snorkels. It had detached from the mask. We were told if we could find a replacement at the dive shop down the road we could replace it otherwise the fee was $85. Thank goodness for the nice man at the dive shop (JADS Dive Center, Aruba). He was very helpful and found a superior replacement that he gave a us a deal of $40. If you ever are in Aruba at Baby Beach go to the dive shop at and rent his equipment. It’s superior and you won’t have to wait for service from the multi-tasked bar server, rental guy at the beach.  We still had lots of day left, so we headed off to find a bird sanctuary that was marked on the map. After travelling all the roads in the area we gave up and blamed the lack of signs for the disappointment. There was more to see so on we went to the east side of Aruba. It was quite a desert wasteland crawling in little lizards if you ventured very far on the sandy shrubby terrain. There was an old rock castle-like structure built on edge of a big rock formation. Lack of signs left us wondering the history...guess we needed a guide. There was a very aqua blue inlet where the waves washed in and had made some interesting cliffs. The road turned to a sketchy sand road and after the warnings bout flat tires from going where you should not drive we decided it was time to head for the northern most tip of the island where another lighthouse was marked. California Lighthouse, as it was called was more to our expectations. A stone lighthouse sitting high on a ridge of land. To the south we could see Oanjestad the main port town To the west was the oh so blue Caribbean sea with white beaches and to the east was a wide expanse of orange beach. It looked like Oklahoma’s red soil. We did not make it to the Arikok National park on the south east side of the island but we will leave that explore for another day. We drove by a few neat old churches and then by a soft yellow church with a steeple and I was sure I saw the Church’s name. We back tracked and sure enough it wasn’t written in English but it most certainly was The Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Latter-days was how the translation might have gone. The drive back to the town was along a long stretch of one white sand beach with Catamarans, Sailing boats and even a shipwreck where divers were busy exploring. What a fun place for a week of discovery .The guys let Corinne and I out for a shopping expedition and they returned the car and headed back to the ship
Supper was over so we had buffet and there were tacos and empanadas and it was yummy. The entertainment was a Vegas Show time and we were again impressed with the fantastic energy and choreography and costuming.
Wow what a fantastic day!!

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