April 16, 2017:
Our ship docked Easter Sunday in Aruba, and we said goodbye to our home of the last 8 days. The next three nights we are staying in a condo we rented through VRBO in the Eagle Beach section of the island (the complex is called the Oasis Condominiums), which is about a 10 minute drive from the city of Oranjestad, where the cruise ship docked.
Since we couldn’t check into our condo until later this afternoon, we dropped our luggage off in the security office there, and literally walked across the street to the beautiful Eagle Beach. We promptly rented a palapa and four chairs thinking to while away the day on the beach in the shade of our palapa. Although we heard it was the custom for the islanders to spend holidays on the beach, and several had pitched tents to do so, it was quite as crowded as we feared it might be. However, there was a total party vibe at the beach, with amplified music blaring and a series of sand soccer matches underway all day. The beach here is huge and stretches several miles. To the north about 5 kilometers is another town called Palm Beach and there are many condos and beach resorts there. Our area is also home to several condo buildings and some smaller hotels. We spent the day periodically going down to stand in the ocean and enjoy the waves gently floating us.
However, we made a major miscalculation: we thought that because our palapa shaded us from the sun overhead, we were safe from sunburn. This was not the case. Our lesson for the day was that you can get badly burned just from the light reflecting off the bright sand around our palapa, so that by 3:00 when we left the beach, we were all well toasted!Therefore, it was some relief to finally get access to our air conditioned condo, and to be able to apply aloe to my spreading burn. Ouch!
Our condo is really nice and very new, offering two bedrooms and two baths on the fifth floor of a complex with a very nice pool and grounds complex, complete with sunning iguanas. We have a great view of the ocean, and the balcony outside is fully shaded so we can enjoy sitting out, regardless of our sunburned state!
We were also pleased to find out that there is a huge modern market only about a half mile walk from our complex, so Jim, Shawn and I walked up this afternoon to get our basic house holding needs filled.
After a good meal at the local restaurant next door, we go to sleep, ready to learn more about Aruba in the days to come.
April 17, 2017:
With all of us waking up with massive sunburns this morning, we quickly decided it wouldn’t be a beach day today. Instead, we enjoyed a leisurely morning on the balcony of our condo gazing out at the sea, and then took a taxi into Oranjestad to walk around. Sadly, pretty much everything was still shut down for the Easter holiday, so we procured the token Starbuck’s mug, and then headed down to the new marina to have lunch.
Then we headed up to the beach right north of ours, Palm Beach, and went out for a sunset cruise on board a pirate ship. Time flies when you’re having rum! The ship even had a rope swing, and Shawn took the challenge. Then we danced our way back to the harbor on the deck of the boat. We had dinner in Palm Beach, and then went back to our place to enjoy a swim before bed.
The flight of the Shawn
April 18, 2017:
This morning, we woke up and puttered around the apartment again, looking out over the bright blue ocean. We booked an afternoon snorkel cruise on the fine ship called Mi Dushi (meaning, “sweetheart” in the local patois). Naturally, there would be rum punch, too! We stopped at a couple of locations along the shore at two snorkeling spots: 1. off the Catalina Cove; and 2. over the wreck of the Anguilla (a German ship scuttled off the coast during WWII). In a fun twist, the crew of Mi Dushi had stocked “fish feeders”; empty gatorade bottles with bread chunks inside. At the Catalina stop, the crew gave us the fish feeders, and as we snorkeled, the bread dissolved and floated out, and little tropical fish swarmed around us. When all the bread was gone, the fish kept head-butting us, just like hungry cats. It was enough to make you laugh through your snorkel!
The second stop over the Anguilla was our favorite stop, though. Not only was the visibility much better than our first stop because this stop was in deeper water further off the coast, but the sea life was actually even greater than our cute little fish friends. Here, larger ocean fish prevailed, and we saw a couple of different large schools. However, the best part of all was the wreck itself. It lies in about 50-60 feet of water, with the upper parts within about 15 feet of the surface. Although the visibility allowed us to see all of the hull, we would have loved the opportunity to have scuba dived on this site! Oh, well, something to look forward to in the future
Mi Dushi made a third stop off the shore near the spot we stopped last night to do the rope swing. Funny thing; the same pirate ship we were on last night was already at anchor in the same cove. Anyway, many of our passengers got in line to try their hand at the rope swing. Sylvia and I opted to be more prudent, but both Jim and Shawn lined up with the rest of thrill-seekers! The photos can speak for themselves!
As if this weren’t bad enough, then a young kid on the boat demonstrated how to do a perfect flip, followed by the requisite hunky crew member showing how to do it with one of the cute young lady passengers.
Of course, no snorkeling trip is complete without rum punch and dancing on deck. However, in this case, the captain wanted to join the ladies dancing, so he turned the wheel over to Jim.
After we returned to the dock, we went back to our cozy condo and had a quiet night enjoying the last of this fun vacation!