Posted by: orst86 | February 10, 2012

Day 4

12d 31.5′ N.
70 d 2.54’W

About 83F clear, slight breeze

On our way to get to the next port, Aruba, we went over some really deep water, like in excess of 12,000 ft. That’s a lot of water below us. The sea was sort of not friendly. It was a bit rough going,even on 5 deck where I am at, I could feel the slamming of the waves on the bow and feeling the rocking of the ship. Thanks to the patch I’m just plain dizzy.

We had our dress up dinner as I mentioned before. Yours truly stood out with only shirt and tie, but I have to say there were some pretty shabby looking coats out there. Main course was lobster Thermidor which is sort of a double baked lobster and then re stuffed into their shell. A hunk of sirloin was included as well. Next formal will be on our way to panama.

As we cruised up to Aruba we had lots of flying fish gliding out of our way. Tiny things, hardly as big as a sparrow. Some didn’t make because the gulls were watching for their jumps.

Aruba port Oranjestad is designed completely around the docked cruise ships. Nearly 90% of all the stores are jewelry stores. They have lots of gems,and, according to them, they are like 50%+ off compared to US retail. So I figured I’d take a quick look…yeah right, with all the discounts and secret passwords given, the cost was still over my limit.  Still…there *MAY* be a surprise in store for someone back home…

Took a bus tour around to see the rock gardens. Granite is the base rock here, the large peak near the main city is called the Haystack. Sorta looks like one. The beach side (north) has been completely built up with resort massive resort hotels.  When they put the resorts there, they figured it didn’t look “tropical” enough so they planted Palm trees.  Hence the fact it is called Palm beach now….

We went  on the desert side of the island and saw the little bridge, the big bridge collapsed in 2005. This would be a mini sea arch actually.  Pretty cool place.  BTW, it costs $0.50 to use the bathroom there at the little store.

The island itself is only like 20 miles from Venezuela. There are about 100,000 people who live on the island. Number one industry is tourism. The island is a desert island which only gets about 18″ of rain a year. The undeveloped side (eastern) is bleak with nothing growing on it except the four types of cacti, pipe organ, rose, Christmas and prickly pear. There are also 3 different types of snakes. One is a harmless garden type,the second is the Aruba rattlesnake and lastly there is a large number of non native boa constrictors. Released as pets, they have gotten out of hand and are messing up the ecosystem so much they have a $100 bounty on dead ones. Now the Aruba rattlers are interesting. 90% of the time if they bite, they don’t inject venom. The rest of the time you don’t have a reaction until 48hrs later. I guess it’s that laid back Caribbean attitude in the sun…   We didn’t see any snakes, but saw lots of eerie green blue lizards and several large iguanas.

The island has or used to have the thriving aloe Vera plant business. Now think of this. Cut the leaf and it drips a brownish liquid which is an extreme laxative. The rest of the jelly interior is edible and touted to be a healthy food. Of course the jelly can be used for first aid on cuts and burns.  Sounds a lot like the puffer fish in Japan.  One little slip and you end up in the bathroom within minutes…I guess that would be better than dead from the puffer venom.

There is also the divi divi tree. The interesting thing is that no tree stands up right. They always grow tilted to the west, because the prevailing winds are from the north east. They say you can’t get lost because all you have to do is follow the trees west.  Of course, with the island only being about 4 miles wide…well…there are corn fields in Iowa wider than this island where you can get lost in.

At one point gold was mined here. Nothing left except ruins of the melter.  Probably all used up in the jewelry stores in town.

The lighthouse is the Californian light house built after the freighter California ran aground and sank. Today the light is automatic and the keepers house has been converted to, of all things, an Italian restaurant.  BTW, you can get fresh coconut drinks (cut coconuts with straws) at the lighthouse area.

Aruba is a mix of cultures, from south American, Dutch, and native. And their language reflects that, Dutch is first, followed by English then there is a native mix language that is also a splash of Spanish and Chinese as well.

Finally, one can rent a car, those cars have license plates with the letter V on them. The joke is that if you get lost driving around, do not follow a car with V (visitor) plates. Instead follow the A (Aruba) or TX (taxi) they will know where they are going. Of course the island barely 4 miles wide and about 12-15 miles long anyway.

Until next time…from Bonaire.


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