Friday, April 25, 2008

Aruba

I called my best friend two days into my vacation and she asked me what city I was in.
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I paused before I answered: "I have no idea. I think I'm near the capital but I really don't know".
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Later I learn that I am in Palm Beach, 10 miles from the Aruban capital of Oranjestad. I learn this because after several days of aimlessly lounging. sunning, swimming, eating, and reading, I figure I'd best learn something about the hospitable island of Aruba. Until then, all I know is that the temperature is a guaranteed 89 or so degrees every single day, with gentle trade winds to make sure the heat doesn't become uncomfortable.
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We stayed at a Marriott Vacation Club in a "villa" that has two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and two patios, both with fantastic views. The first thing I do is look for birds: I want to impress Anon with the birds of the island. I fail miserably. At one point I did see two small yellow banana birds (please don't ask me their official name) but mostly I just saw dove-like birds looking for crumbs at the pool. So here's my bird shot for Anon. (Hint: look closely).

The place was beautiful. All week we shuffled from the pool to the ocean to the Lazy River. The lazy river, it turns out, is really a pool that twists and turns for quite a distance, with its own current to gently pull you along through those twists and turns without any effort on your part. All that was needed was an inner tube. We five women and one wonderful 15 month old Mr. Ryan were totally prepared:

This was my view from the lounge chair at the pool. Here I sunned and rested in between swims, drank virgin strawberry daiquiris, began and finished Anita Shreve's recent book, and sunned sunned, rested and swam all over again.

Variety being the spice of life, we regularly took short walks to the ocean beach, where we repeated the daily routine listed above.

The Kiddie Pool, which Mr. Ryan loved as much as the Lazy River, had a special set of instructions, just in case some thoughtless adult needed a reminder not to dive into 12 inches of water: The 19 mile long 6 mile wide island of Aruba is located just above Venezuela, meaning it is more desert than tropical island.



Still, this is the Caribbean and the waters were gorgeous. We did only one "tourist attraction" all week: a submerged trip 5 feet under water, in what looked and felt like a claustrophobic submarine--in search of sea life and shipwrecks. We easily found both.

The Antilla was 397 feet long and weighed 2,164 net tons. She was built in 1939 and was powered by two steam turbines. Although she was a brand new German vessel, the Antilla was sunk intentionally. She was an unarmed ship used by the Germans to supply their submarines during WW II and was nick-named Ghost Ship by the allies who were never able to locate and attack the ship outside of neutral waters.When Germany invaded Holland in May of 1940, the Antilla was moored just off the shore of Aruba which is a Dutch territory. The local law enforcement immediately asked for her surrender but gave her captain a day to think about it. That night the Antilla was scuttled in order to prevent the ship's capture.



We were privy to a couple of disabling conditions. Iguanas and lizards were everywhere in three sizes: small, medium, and quite large. This one was my favorite because of its beautiful aqua color that could change to brown or green on a dime--however this particular lizard somehow ended up without its tail. I cannot say if that slowed it down or not.

Following this loose association with disability, our rental car was damaged. I admit I am not always diligent about temporary collision insurance. Not to mention who wants to deal with car problems on vacation? Well, it just so happened that the passenger door of our rental car was creamed. But imagine our surprise when we found this very kind note on the windshield, offering reassurance not to worry about a thing:

jb and I always hit the road at one point or another when we are in a new locale. We couldn't resist driving from one end of the island to the other, confirming that besides tourism, the next largest employer is an oil refinery. I do not have the heart to show you pictures of the oil stacks.
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I'm fascinated by cemeteries. These were no exception. You will no doubt easily see the differences between affluence and poverty from viewing these two sections of burials in the same cemetery:

From the beaches to the restaurants, low cost handmade thatched roofs were everywhere. I'll bet my friend Ces can explain this technique:
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Our nightlife was pretty tame, except I dragged jb to one of three nearby casinos almost every night. True to form, she won and I didn't. But man I love those slot machines. I played beside a 90 plus year old woman who won hundreds and dollars, over and over, while I lost and lost and lost some more.
And this, for now, concludes this introduction to Aruba and the kj family vacation. I imagine there may be a few more photos to come.....


20 comments:

  1. Oh it sounds like a little piece of heaven on earth. The water is postcard perfect! Don't you wish you could go on vacation everyday? Nice bird shot. Anon would be impressed. Hehe!

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  2. That was so much fun - I feel as if I had been there! What a great post. I am delighted you had such a wonderful time with such great company!

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  3. ces, while there, i thought this vacation would be perfect for you sometime--nothing but rest and relaxation.

    hello carla! how are you?!

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  4. Vacation - looks absolutely lovely. I'm ready to go on vacation.

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  5. You're back! I'm back! VERY impressed with your bird KJ! Is it the yellow banana shaped one I can see? I'm JEALOUS ... you'll know why if you look at my holiday photos posted over the next couple of weeks at PhotographyAnonymous. *sigh*

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  6. Beautiful pics, KJ. What a wonderful holidays you had. I've never been on Aruba myself but I was for business once in Curacao. I can remember the wind and the beaches very well. A far away Dutch paradise :-) The isle of Bonaire is also a very nice place to be. Maybe next time?

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  7. Oh, you have left me LONGING for sand and clear blue water!

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  8. cs, it was great to spend a week in a tropical place and then come home to spring...

    anon, NO yellow banana! just a little speck in the first photo.

    wieneke, i always smile at your visits. i am going to look up bonaire.

    liz, it was awesome. i remember my then-husband and i took a week in virgin gourda when i was pregnant-kind of a last fling without children. (how are you doing?)

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  9. Any more clues as to where the speck might be found within the first photo? Heehee

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  10. I found the bird! Hehe!

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  11. Great photos!

    It looks and sounds like you really relaxed and enjoyed yourselves. That's just what the doctor ordered.

    How'd you get so close to that bird?

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  12. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! I suddenly remember one particular nice vacation in the Bahamas... *sigh*... I miss the beach and the sun!

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  13. I'm still looking for the speck of bird. Is it the smudge on the window of what appears to be a bell tower ... is that a Bellbird? *sigh*

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  14. anon, yes, you found the bird. pretty shabby, huh? but i can offer you igunas, lizards and fish if that might make you happy?

    :)

    rm, we came back very relaxed. how impressive that i got that bird shot, huh?

    merlinprincesse, might it be time to get yourself back to the beach?

    ces. hello!

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  15. it looks divine! The blues - the turquoise water ... bliss.

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  16. Wow ! Great ! I love the color of the water and the water blue lizard. It's good that you had such a good time.

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  17. I'm more than happy KJ, you've taken me on a sunny holiday also :)

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  18. WOW! The water looks amazing!!!How lovely for all of you, i wish i was with...:) Swimming is so good for your knee too. Sounds like the best of times! I noticed i have missed a lot of the story but I will be back in the morn and refresh and catch up.

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