Aruba is a relatively small island, only 74 square miles. It has a population of 34,000. Perhaps one of Aruba's most unique features is her official language: Papiamento, which is a unique combination of Dutch, Spanish, Portugese, English, African, and Indian words. Most Arubans also speak English.
Aruba was claimed for the Spanish Crown in 1400 by Alonso de Ojeda. After an 80-year war with Spain, the Dutch took command of the island. Gold was discovered in Aruba in 1824 and was the island's primary source of revenue for nearly a century. Once the gold supply had been depleted, the Arubans turned to the growth and processing of aloe, which remains a vital source of income. More importantly, Aruba is now home to the largest oil refinery in the world, thereby transforming it into the most prosperous of the Caribbean islands. By the late 1960's, Aruba secured its place as an ideal tourist destination. We saw the newly built Westin Resort, as well as the Ritz Carlton resort being built. Not bad for a tiny little island!
The thing that struck me most about Aruba was the myriad of water colors. At almost any given location, it seemed that the water was comprised of multiple layers of blue: from light turquoise to deep blue. It was simply breathtaking.
These first few shots were taken from our cabin balcony.
Yes, that's an itty-bitty island in the middle of the water with a single tree growing on it. Too cool!
Rick really loves the Aruban license plate. I think he wants to move there just so he can have one!
We joined a snorkeling excursion. This was our ride for the day. Seriously...this is what the buses all looked like! All in keeping with the "One Happy Island" mantra, I suppose. The Arubans certainly are happy people!
I thought this was cool: a lighthouse and cacti!
Boca Catalina Beach was our snorkeling site. Rick and I were the first ones in the water. We swam out to a place where the guide usually feeds the fish so that the snorkelers can see a good variety. Apparently the fish assumed that we had the food~hundreds of fish literally swarmed us looking for bread crumbs. We were literally in a MOB of fish! They inspected us a bit to see if we had food, but they weren't very aggressive and didn't try to bite us. The cool thing was that we saw tons of different fish, including the biggest angel fish I have ever seen! This all happened pretty close to this catamaran (also on a snorkeling excursion) which, by the way, is Rick's post-retirement plan. He'll do the sailing and I can pass out the water bottles. LOL
We swam to a different spot to get away from the crowd now feeding the fish. Rick dove down a bit and saw an octupus! Of course I had to follow him~and much to my surprise, we saw four octupi! They were awesome! Each one was about a foot long, maybe a little longer. Their bodies were 4-6" long, and their tentacles were about 8" long. They were spectacular! Rick, being the 10-year-old at heart that he is, decided to dive down and try to touch one. All four of then took off~I've never seen any animal move so quickly. This really was the highlight of our snorkeling experiences!
After snorkeling for awhile, we hit the beach. I can really get into sitting on a beach with a view like this!
The second part of our excursion was to relax on beautiful Palm Beach in town. It was a lot more crowded, but it had bathrooms, so I was happy! LOL
Yup, that's my sweetheart hiding in the shade. We both put on sunscreen~he still fried, and I brought home a nice Caribbean tan. And no~you will NEVER see a photo of me in my swimsuit!!!
On our way back to the ship, we drove past this genuine Dutch windmill. It's pretty cool, but looks way out of place next to the beach.
As we headed back to our ship, I found this beautiful box to add to my collection!
We were sad to return to the ship. Our dreamy vacation was at an end. We sat out on our balcony for awhile to soak in a few last views.
This submarine had apparently been in town to honor a dignitarian or something.
That room hanging off the back of the ship is a nightclub on the highest floor with panoramic views. We went up there one night and it was very cool but dead. We couldn't believe it! Of course, it was only 11 PM, so we may have been the "old early bird crowd" that was fast asleep before the real partying began.
This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. I can't even count the different colors of water. This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Someday that will be me and my sweetheart, old and retired and cruising around on our sailboat. I don't want to live on one like Rick does, but I wouldn't mind spending my days like this. He said he would even build me a little craft space! LOL
The next day was a sea day headed back to San Juan. I have a few photos that I'll post another day. For now, I am going to close my eyes and dream about being on that sailboat...