Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | August 27, 2012

Aruban Holiday

N 12° 31.04′   W 70° 02.3′

Oranjestad, Aruba

Aruba has been an atypical stop for us. Our favorite places tend to be remote and uncrowded destinations. Of the ABC islands, Aruba was blessed with the largest share of beautiful sandy beaches, a vital ingredient for wooing the Caribbean-bound tourist. Supported by a tourist-focused economy, the country attracts well over a million visitors each year.

Thriving high-rise and low-rise resorts line the northwest coast. Luxury tour buses pass along the main roads every few minutes. Signs detail the rules for staking a claim to one of the popular chickees, beach umbrella huts built into the sand. Tourist-oriented shops and restaurants abound. The downtown has all the requisite jewelry stores for a cruise ship port. While the summer months see fewer cruise ships, it is a busy time for land vacations. Visitors from the US make up the largest percentage of tourists and we feel the strong influence of a service-oriented culture that caters heavily to American tastes.

A tourist’s mecca was not at the top of our list as a cruising destination.  We had been here before via cruise ship and had a quick peak at the area, spoiled a bit as a couple of thousand fellow passengers simultaneously surged ashore.  Geographically the island is well-positioned to break up a very long and sometimes difficult passage between Curacao and Santa Marta, Colombia. We planned to use the stop-over in Aruba to wait for an ideal weather window to travel to Colombia.  Surprisingly, Aruba has been one of our most pleasant stops.  It feels like we are on a vacation from the more tiresome aspects of cruising and living aboard.

While we are staying in a beautiful and conveniently located marina – like here at the Renaissance Aruba – life is easier, especially for me. There is less dirt and sand tracked aboard. Clothes seem to stay cleaner longer, and laundry can be outsourced to a wash-dry-fold service. The dinghy doesn’t need a weekly cleaning, and the decks don’t have to be scrubbed as much while the dogs use the adjacent park for their pottie needs. Dining out occurs more frequently, and wow – what a selection! We take our limited restaurant outings seriously and Bob diligently studies Trip Advisor for clues as to where we both might be the happiest diners. Every meal ashore so far has been fabulous. Nights are more comfortable sleeping in an air-conditioned cabin. Shopping is easier, especially now that we have a rental car for a week.

Bob uses marina time to take care of maintenance and repairs. The engine room is cooler when we have shore power and are not running the generator.  For the first time in many marina stays he has not had a significant mechanical task to tackle. The poor guy hardly got off the boat the month we were in Grenada while he was working on the new batteries. Here there is more leisure time. He has been good about staying out of the casinos, except for the approved task of getting change for the $50 and $100 bills that the island ATM’s insist on dispensing and businesses other than casinos don’t want to accept.

We have a few projects interspersed with leisure time. Big chores for this stop include refinishing some of the teak, checking all the food stores for leakage and spoilage and cleaning out cabinets and pitching unnecessary items into the conveniently located dumpster. A little shopping, some provisioning . . . and the rest is time to play.

The Renaissance property includes lodging on both sides of the busy main road, shops, restaurants, casinos and the marina

 

A new microwave to replace the one that was near death. Yeah! Appliances sold in Aruba are compatible with American power. Haven’t had compatible appliance shopping since Sint Maarten, 6 months ago.

  

The boat shuttle to a private island is the Renaissance Resort’s solution to not having a spectacular beach adjacent to their property. It is very popular, and since they board right next to our boat we get to see hundreds of people come and go each day. Haven’t gotten Bob on the shuttle – yet. Even with the allure of the adult beach. Not his idea of a private island.

 

I’ve taken hundreds of iguana photos, still in search of a better shot. The iguanas are fed by the convention center chefs and are quite tame.

  

There are many statues and memorials reflecting Aruban history and culture. We pass this statue of Ann Frank on our daily dog walks. It was brought to the island by the Respect Life . . . Always Remember Foundation to help promote solidarity, freedom and equality of every co-citizen, and to fight practices of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia (fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers). Pretty cool values for a small nation where there is much diversity.

 

The divi divi tree is found all over the island. It points to the southwest due to the trade winds that blow from the northeast, so it is referred to as a “natural compass”.

Being so far south tropical storms and hurricanes are rare here. The close proximity to the equator and the large Venezuelan land mass influences the wind patterns and usually keeps hurricanes away. While the ABC’s statistically have a brush of some sort with tropical weather every 6.3 years, the last major hurricane to hit the area was in 1877. Tour operators promote the area as a relatively “hurricane-free” place to plan a vacation, a wedding, a convention.

We watch all the forecasts closely anyway. Large tropical waves disrupt the trade winds and create brief periods of ideal travel conditions. A big storm system passing through the northern Caribbean might allow for lighter winds and smoother seas at our latitude. We saw that to a small degree with the passing of Isaac to the north. Right now the winds are roaring again and helping to temper the heat.

We aren’t ready to end this Aruban holiday yet but will start to look for  a super-calm weather opportunity to move on to Colombia.

 

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Responses

  1. Hi Elaine and Bob! Great blog and wonderful pictures. Glad you are having such a good time. Grenada is still lovely, hot and humid. The social scene is ramping up! Lots of fun here!
    Izzy

    • We do miss all the camaraderie we had in Grenada. Here there are few transient boats. Our friends on Renegade are still here and there are a couple of other occupied boats in the marina. A few more in the anchorage – but looks like a really noisy spot under the landing path for the jets that arrive frequently. We are loving the climate – less humidity & drier, sort of desert-like. It is extremely windy – regularly 20 – 30+ knot winds that helps it feel cooler. Fewer bugs too – dogs scratching much less. But looks like our path will take back to more humidity soon.


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