Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | September 5, 2012

Aruban Adventures

N 12° 31.04′   W 70° 02.3′

Oranjestad, Aruba.

Aruba is a place where one can dress in shorts and a t-shirt and run around with camera in hand and not look out-of-place.  We’ve been blending in with the crowd, enjoying our respite here and feeling more like tourists most days than cruisers.  The tag line “One Happy Island” seems most accurate and applicable to islanders and visitors alike.

We had a rental car for a week which allowed more distant sightseeing and shopping for practical things like tools, cleaning chemicals, stowable chairs for extra guest seating and pet supplies. It is always a thrill for Bob when he finds a comprehensive hardware store, and The General Store and Kooyman had lots to peruse. Likewise, I was excited to find Just 4 Pet, a pet store specializing in holistic and human-quality food products which I can attest is quite rare in the Caribbean. The shop owner was pretty happy too, and kept asking how many dogs we had and what size they were while ringing up my rather large purchase. I guess they don’t get too many boaters with dogs loading up for extended time in the San Blas. She was disappointed that I wouldn’t need a frequent shopper card.

The Aruba Donkey Sanctuary was a fun and informative stop and at the top of Bob’s list for a day tour.  They have dedicated volunteers to attend to their care and bus loads of tourists to contribute to the $60 US per month per donkey needed to keep the Sanctuary afloat. 

The donkeys here have it made and seem healthy, content and well fed


We learned that donkeys can live to be our age, which is considered very old (for donkeys)


According to our volunteer friend anyone wishing to improve leadership skills would do well to spend a day observing the donkey pack leaders and skip the expensive management seminars


The Alto Vista Chapel, rebuilt on the site of the original Catholic church in Aruba is listed in the guidebooks as a place for peace and contemplation. It was very tranquil until four tour buses arrived loaded with Carnival passengers. Note to self: next time check cruise ship calendar before scheduling sightseeing trip.


The California lighthouse, a popular photo stop, is still operational, and is perched on the scenic northwest tip of the island. It was named for the US ship that sank here in the early 1900’s

Vista from the water tower, typical of the arid Aruban countryside which is very pretty in its own way but not conducive to farming

Aruba has taken advantage of the climate to grow aloe and produces a variety of aloe-based skin products.  There is also a mushroom farm here (it is indoors) which explains the beautiful array of fresh mushrooms available at the supermarkets.

Bob’s diligent research on Trip Advisor led us to Scott’s Brats where we met owners Scott and Leslie from Wisconsin and sampled their breakfast and lunch fare. It’s a neat spot on Palm Beach with delicious food prepared to order, and some healthy options for those of us who don’t do brats. Brunch out is also easier on the wallet although according to Captain Bob we are still under budget for dining out.  Yeah!

Scott’s Brats, Palm Beach, Aruba


Our experience here has served as a reminder that we have more language barriers ahead. Outside of the most touristy areas less English is spoken and with four major languages commonly used here things get confusing. I can’t tell the difference between Papiamento and Spanish, much less Dutch and have had some mix-ups with the nighttime security guard and in the laundromat and hair salon attributed to communications gone awry. “Bon dia/tardi/nochi” (good morning/afternoon/evening) and “masha danki” (thank you very much) are about all the Papiamento phrases I have on the tip of my tongue.  My strategy is to focus on Spanish study since I can’t handle too many languages at one time.

I made the Renaissance Island trip solo as Captain Bob was reluctant to give up his good book to visit the island.  Except for encountering no-see-ums, I thought it was a fantastic place for photo practice with tame flamingos, dozens of hermit crabs, iguanas and pelicans among the beach-goers.

Private Renaissance Island is accessible by the resort’s shuttle boats


The island’s many critters look well-fed and were content to be photographed


The professional shuttle drivers are amazing. They expertly maneuver their single engine craft in tight quarters. And they keep their hats securely on their heads in the stiff wind. Maybe I could sign up for tutoring in both areas.

Looks like we will be here a while longer.  We are being very selective about weather for the upcoming passage around the northern tip of Colombia between Aruba and Santa Marta.  This is listed by some as one of the toughest sea passages in the world. We are hoping to find easy conditions, much like we did crossing the Gulf Stream and the Mona Passage, areas which likewise can generate unpleasant moments at sea.  We are searching for 4- foot or less seas and 15- knot or less winds before setting out on this two-day trip. The local fishermen tell us that might not happen until November. I’m wishing for a huge hurricane far to the north (avoiding all land, of course), creating a period of dead calm in this part of the world. The GFS model predicts such an occurrence in about 10 days. Way too soon to know what will transpire, but I can hope.



  1. Wonderful pictures and fun to read, Elaine! Renaissence Island looks wonderful, and the Pink Flamingoes – at last a spotting!

    • The whole of Aruba is a great place for photography practice! Lots of interesting wildlife and nearly constant blue skies. Pretty sunsets too.

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