Saturday, November 19, 2011

8 Hours in in Aruba

Looking into turquoise from a stony ledge near Malmok, Aruba

The ship docked in Aruba at 8 AM and set sail at just after 5 PM. All passengers were told to be on board no later than 4:30 PM but we headed back earlier; cranky and exhausted, more mentally than physically.  Visiting my beloved island after a 10 year hiatus was predicted to be the highlight of the recent Caribbean cruise. I suppose it was although the day was intense; wonderful but annoyingly frenetic. As we set sail from the harbor in Aruba, I cried from the upper deck and watched as the island became a shimmer of barely perceptible glow on the dark horizon.

I love this picture taken with my Iphone; somehow it pulls together all that was Aruba on that hot and breezy November 9th. Sometimes random pictures like these surprise me.  I stood on an old concrete ledge overlooking a coral embankment into the shallow waters a few miles short of the California Lighthouse; somewhere near Malmok. The textures and colors speak to the type of day we had on that
"one happy island".

Renting a car was harder than it should have been and bit into precious time, even with arrangements in advance. Navigating downtown Oranjestad and the "strip" took some patience. The drivers, aside from one who almost rear-ended me going 30 mph, were pushy but compromising; they actually let you in to a packed stream of traffic if you just put yourself out there into the pack with confidence. I had to re-wire my brain for this after Seattle. The rental had a decent A/C and brakes; the two critical features for a day trip in Aruba.

Dutch cookies
The first stop of the day, after an obligatory drive out to the California Lighthouse (the furthest northwestern tip of the island) was a grocery store. We found the perfect spot; two side by side enormous stores (don't ask why; this is ARUBA; things often make no sense to the outsider). What were we after?  Dutch treats. I grew up on Verkade chocolate and cookies and oh yes, Droste chocolate sprinkles. What's better than a chocolate sandwich? Then there were the Dutch cheeses: if we'd had room in our suitcases for these giant wheels of gouda cheese at such an awesome price, we'd have lugged them back as well'. We did manage a decent sized Edam cheese, some Indonesian spices, and a Nesbitt's red soda in the bags of treats we hauled out from the Kong Hing Grocery.

Verkade Dutch chocolate bars; all flavors
 After storing the good eats in a shady part of the vehicle, we drove to the opposite tip of the island; "home", aka Lago Colony. By this time we were getting hungry and longed for an authentic island pastechi. We found a stand between Savaneta and San Nicholas. The only pastechis left were cheese but oh man, were they delicious. Since the pastechi is typically a breakfast food, they are harder to find as the hours pass. Finding a vendor with much of a selection can be a challenge towards mid-day.

Lago Colony; what can I say?  This little community in the shadow of the oil refinery will always be home no matter how run down, decrepit and changed from those glory days of yore. Two of the houses we lived in are still there but neither looked great.  What doesn't change is the natural beauty of the lagoon, the ocean, and Colorado Point. My heart focused on these eternally treasured gems, especially my favorite place of all; the Point

Unbelievably calm at Colorado Point

Still no courage to step out on the bridge

Recent rain coaxed green from the rock of Colorado Point
Time slipped by way too fast and I found myself checking the watch and figuring out how much more we could do and make it back to the ship on time. This was the major detraction to an absolutely wonderful day. Later, back on deck, I told D that spending a day in Aruba wasn't exactly my idea of visiting my former home. Our hours on the island were precious but next time, I'll need a bigger bite to satisfy my taste.

Bye Bye Aruba; from the deck of the Crown Princess


  1. Love the photos and how frustrating the day must have been - rushing through it all. Too much for a very few hours. Colorado Point is still the same. How about the baby lagoon? The Esso Club?

  2. I would love to go back with you again. Loved the photographs! They were beautiful; I know it must have been hectic trying to see everything in such a short time.

  3. Yes! I ate Droste chocolate sprinkles (haagel) on my bread all the time!
    I have never returned to the island, I think seeing Lago Colony in its present state would break my heart. Like the song, "The Harp that Once Through Tara's Halls" (Tina)


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