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Published: August 11th 2019
This entry comes from our sister island Aruba, located about 80km west-northwest of Curaçao with about 110.000 inhabitants. Aruba was the first destination I ever visited in 1991, when I left Curaçao and flew for the first time. As a little boy back I found it very exciting of course! Like Curaçao, in Aruba they also speak Papiamentu although the accent and writing is different. In 2017 I went twice to Aruba and those were my 7th and 8th time to the island respectively. Even though Aruba is small, a little less than half the size of Curaçao, I still visited new places or attractions. I find Aruba a nice place to be, also because I have some friends and acquaintances there.
My visit in May 2017 was for four days and I went for a gathering of teachers from the ABC-islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao). We had a whole program it was fun to spent time with each other and also get to know fellow-teachers from the other two islands. In December I visited between Christmas and New Year for 5 days with my 14 year old nephew and 10 year old niece. They enjoyed a lot and this trip was
a complete surprise for them.
Both times I visited De Palm Island, a tiny island just off the coast near the Spanish Lagoon. It's an all-inclusive island where you can spend the day and have unlimited food, swim, there is a small waterpark, banana-boat, a small zip-line etc. In short: "Fun"! Unfortunately the day passes too quick, but the kids enjoyed it to the fullest. In December I rented a car which was an excellent idea because I could move across the island easily and independently!
The area around the former "Natural Bridge", which collapsed a couple of years back, was very interesting to visit and it was the first time that I walked further. I went there in May and we walked together with an Aruban Geography teacher from the former Natural Bridge along the northcoast into direction of Andicoeri, a beautiful white sand bay and there are also beautiful rock-formations along the coast. At the Blackstone Beach you'll see three small, natural bridges together. The northcoast, like Curaçao, is very rough due to the north-easterly trade winds that blow almost year-round. The teacher gave excellent explanations about the formation of the island in general.
Together with my Aruban friends, Jairo and his son Brandon, we visited Philip's Animal Garden in December. It's like a small zoo where you can see camels, monkeys and several other animals. It was definitely fun to visit, especially if you're travelling with kids! Apart from here, we did spend more time with Jairo and Brandon during our stay and it was really cool to hang out with them. The popular Baby Beach is highly recommended! Located almost at the eastern tip of Aruba, it's a very shallow beach thus good when travelling with kids. To reach Baby Beach you have to drive through San Nicolaas, Aruba's second city after the capital city of Oranjestad. The city arose and grew due to the construction of an oil-refinery in 1924. Most inhabitants are of British-Caribbean descent, therefore English is widely spoken in this part of the island. The city looked much better and nicer compared to when I went for the last time, which was in 2009. It was a nice afternoon in San Nicolaas because we were there by coincidence when one of the main streets was closed off and there was live soca-music with people dancing and
enjoying. It gave me a little nostalgia to 2003 when I experienecd Aruba's carnival, including the "Jouvert Morning" in San Nicolaas which was one of the few times in my life I remained awake to whole night and slept around 8:30am. While I was in San Nicolaas, I bumped into Lana who I studied in the Netherlands with in the early 2000's. I also met with Jo-Ann, whom I studied with to become a Geography teacher while Lana became a Mathematics teacher.
Of course you shouldn't miss Oranjestad itself, the capital of Aruba with a small, charming downtown. Take a ride in the tram for free, which travels from around the cruise-terminal into the Caya G.F Betico Croes (also known as Mainstreet). Stroll around the colourful buildings, such as the ones on Plaza Daniel Leo, the historical Fort Zoutman and at the Schelpstraat by the Aruban Archaeological Museum.
On the north coast you'll find the Bushiribana gold mill ruins, dating back to the 1820's when gold was discovered in Aruba. Not very far from these ruins we visited the Bushiribanda Natural Pool, which was probably one of the spots I enjoyed the most during this trip. To get there,
you need to descend some steep steps and then walk towards the spot. Nature formed like a pool which is protected against the rough sea by cliffs, so you can easily swim and relax in this area. We also visited the other Gold mill ruins in Balashi. Since I like exploring and I am often somewhat curious, I decided to go for a short walk along the Spanish Lagoon near the Balashi Gold mill ruins. It's an inlet in middle of the south coast and is a beautiful piece of nature, very quiet and with the presence of several bird types. The Bubali Wetlands was also great to have visited, a small but beautiful piece of nature very close to the resort area in western Aruba which is also home to different bird types. The areas of Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are nice, but not my kind of area as they are the typical resort areas with the long beaches and many hotels on a row, mostly catered to North American tourists. When you drive past these areas you'll end up near the western tip of Aruba at the California Lighthouse which dates back to 1916. Not far from
the lighthouse you'll get to the California sand-dunes. Walk through the dunes and explore the area, it's beautiful and gives you unique photo opportunities, offering nice views and contrasts of the landscape: the sea, the hills with dry vegetation, the green and the white colour of the dunes themselves.
I finally climbed the Hooiberg for the first time, just before sunset. The hill is 168m high and has about 600 steps leading all the way to the top. After a tiring climb but we all made it; my nephew, niece, Jairo and Brandon. The view up there is awesome and you get to see most of the island. Not too far from the Hooiberg I also visited the Casibari Rock Formations; nice and uniquely shaped pieces of rock rising out of the landscape. The Ayo Rockformations are similar and here you'll also see native indian drawings.
Going out was also part of my visits, but I only did so during my first visit. I went to a party where the Aruban band "Buleria" played live and I also went out in the Palm Beach area once with other friends and acquaintances Ralph, Mike and Hubert.
There are still a
few things I'd like to see and visit in Aruba, including museums. It's always good to leave a few things open for an eventual next visit, isn't it?
The next few blog-entries come from South America. Doing my best to be "back on track" with my travelblogs, so expect another entry very soon!
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