Aruba (a Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela)

Trip Start Feb 04, 2008
Trip End Feb 21, 2008

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Where I stayed
Island Princess

Flag of Aruba  ,
Sunday, February 10, 2008

After docking at the peer in Oranjestad, we were in the terminal by 7:30 in the morning, found our tour group, and headed to the parking lot, where we were psyched to find that our transportation for the day was the Banana Bus, by far the most interesting vehicle in the lot.

Our tour guide and driver for the day took us, on sometimes very bumpy roads, away from the port and into the hills. We immediately noticed that Aruba is more prosperous than Jamaica, and were charmed by the bright Caribbean colors and Dutch style of some of the buildings.

Our destination was Arikok National Park. The park ranger, Rodney, led our group of 16 on a hike through the park. Since Aruba is a very dry island (about 18" of rain a year), we saw many cacti, aloes, and other arid climate vegetation. Sometimes we thought we could be in Arizona, but then we'd catch a glimpse of the Caribbean Sea in the distance.

Critters were another good part of our hike. We saw lizards, iguanas, bats, goats (including a new kid), parrots, orioles, and burrowing owls. We also saw drawings on the rocks left by long-ago natives.

Back on the Banana Bus, we headed across the island to the southern tip to Baby Beach. Here we had 45 minutes to enjoy the water (Allen and Max snorkeled a little) and the views of the Caribbean and the big Valero oil refinery (one lovely, the other not). We got some Aruba coins--they even have a square one. But too soon we were on our way back to the ship.

On board at 12:30, we had lunch and spent the afternoon mostly by pool. The ship sailed for Cartegena at one. After another good day, we enjoyed Italian night in the dining room. The limoncello was quite nice.

Thanks to Mom for drafting this one.
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