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Published: December 11th 2013
Oranjestad, (Orange city from the House of Orange the ruling family in the Netherlands), Aruba
We had breakfast with Paul and Christina and then watched masked boobies dive and go after the flying fish that were escaping the ship cutting through their territory. The four of us got on different buses after lunch to take two different tours. Paul and Christina to snorkel and Valerie and I to tour by “semi-submarine” the same scuttled wreck of the 440 foot freighter, the Antilla and to tour other parts of the island.
The Antilla was a German merchant marine ship that the Captain sank on purpose because he didn’t want to return to Germany and get involved in World War II. The wreckage is down just 50 feet underwater and provides a great place for coral and fish of all kinds to hang out. We could ID schools of blue tangs, banded butterfish, yellow snapper, a barracuda; we saw lots of others we couldn’t ID. To get on the submarine, we first took a bus and then walked to the beach and boarded a tender-type boat. It took us by a
Dutch Naval vessel anchored in the bay. We were told that the King and Queen of Holland were visiting all the islands once owned by Holland and formerly called the Netherland Antilles, and some South American countries also.
After returning from our boat rides we boarded the bus and began touring the island. We were surprised to see that the island is covered by clumps of tall pipe organ cactus as well as some barrel and prickly pear cactus.
Our first stop was at the site of the first church built in Aruba in 1750 by the Arawak Indians and the Spanish. The tiny Alta Vista Chapel that now stands on this site has benches for people to sit outside since there was so little room inside. Around the church were these tall cactus and sitting on the very top were pigeons and large green iguanas. We then drove to the Atlantic Ocean side of the island (the island is only 6 miles wide and 19 miles long) and looked at the natural bridges (one of which had collapsed in 2005) and coral and basaltic rock strewn across the hills.
After getting out and taking pictures we
boarded the bus and rode to Casibari. This place looks like God dumped a couple dump truck loads of large diorite boulders and they fell all over themselves. Trees and plants are growing around, over, and between these rocks creating an interesting park. We walked around on the paths and our guide pointed out a burrowing owl sitting fairly close in one of the larger trees. Its feathers were really a pretty gold/brown color. It was the highlight of the tour!
We returned to port after driving back through town. Our security clearance was for everyone on the bus to raise their ship cards in the air for the guard to see. No passport checking, etc. After we rested in our room for about an hour or so we met with Christina and Paul for dinner on the pool deck with Bar-B-Q fare. We all ate and watched the lights of the city before calling it an early night as, we all had early tours in the morning. The ship left port after 11, but I was fast asleep and didn’t hear them weigh anchor.
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