Day three of our Eastern Caribbean cruise brought my wife and I to the elongated cay of Aruba. From the deck of the ship, the flatness of this island allowed us to gaze from its busy port city, Oranjestad across to the sparcely populated leeward side. The three most prominent features in this panorama include the prominent volcano mound midway across the island, the line of luxury resort hotels lining the western beachside, and the unsightly towers of offshore oil derricks protruding prominently offshore.
Using my Triposo Travel app to plan a leisurely walking tour, I expected we would cover the major sights of the town efficiently. Arriving within 30 minutes at our first stop, the National Museum of Aruba, we paid a nominal fee to wander the grounds of an 18th century Dutch fort as well as view a modest collection of colorful artifacts from the hat making and weaving industries of the past. Sadly, we learned that Aruba’s balance of trade with the U.S. and Europe is increasingly threatened by competing Asian markets for these goods today.
Continuing our city walk inland, we amused ourselves watching a family of curious green and spiny iguanas sunning nearby. Oddly, they seemed oblivious to our human presence. A pungent smell in the air accompanied these prehistoric-looking lizards as they slowly made their way in and out of the surrounding polluted water.
Crossing a small bridge over a main waterway to the Caribbean Sea, we spotted a prominently displayed flag ahead, leading to the air conditioned refuge of the nearby Aruban National Library. Cooling off now, we took some time to take advantage of the free wifi inside the cavernous building. Phone service, however became a challenge today. “Hi mom, we are in Aruba. How are you? I am fine ….” click and no signal. The world can apparently wait for our return and frankly I don’t miss this reality now.
We have typically decided to return back to our cruise vessel from an excursion by lunchtime in the past and today was no exception. Our four mile walk around Oranjestad seemed to end too soon today perhaps but we had enjoyed our brief sample of the “Happy Island” spirit of Aruba at a nominal cost. We still could have time to venture off the boat again for a bit of souvenir shopping later or a short ride on a local disco bus. For tomorrow’s walk, I would need to change into my more comfortable shoes and drink more water.