One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things” (Henry Miller)
Our most recent cruise vacation is now providing me with a wonderful opportunity to explore a variety of issue perspectives with regard to eight (8) interesting destinations in the Eastern Caribbean region. Such opposing opinions are thus stated below with accompanying photos for week two of this fourteen day cruise.
Barbados (Moving Up and Down)
More than any other island we’ve visited on our present cruise, we needed to work harder in Barbados to find those much sought feelings of tropical bliss. For it seemed to be a difficult task to escape the sprawling industrial look surrounding Bridgetown, our latest port of call. Perhaps we needed the exercise anyway as we began our latest tour with a brisk walk from the cruise terminal through enticing shopping corridors to our awaiting 4X4 jeep. From that point on, this “yang” experience intensified with an adrenaline rush as we grasped tightly to our seat rail when bounced up and down roughly as we steadily climbed hills to the island interior and then to the more secluded eastern shore. Thankfully, our energetic driver would stop abruptly once or twice early on this ride so we could “catch our breath” in the middle of nowhere while he engaged with passing “locals” in casual conversations. We seemed fortunate as well to take a few breaks later on from this brisk, rollercoaster like experience when our driver stopped according to his set schedule to offer us fresh sugarcane to taste, point out a cow grazing lazily in a field, describe the kinds of fruit grown on a native tree and reveal the historic meaning of a stone wall. Yet the most notable highlight of this tour took place as we descended steeply to the far eastern shore for the first time and took sight of the long white shores along amazing Bathsheba Bay. How satisfying it felt then to accomplish fifteen minutes of slow quality time spent along these tranquil beaches after this wild afternoon of “”bucking bronco” traveling effort.
Trinidad (Animal Behavior)
Looking forward to a break from the rigid time schedule of guided ship excursions and massive cruise passenger gatherings, the island of Trinidad provided a nice opportunity to self plan a tour from our Port of Spain location to a place of our own choosing. Thus as we stepped out of the cruise terminal, a feasible opportunity arose to do so upon being warmly greeted by an older looking Trinidad woman who offered an inexpensive ride at $30.00 round trip for us at the city’s well renowned Emperor Valley Zoo. So we accepted this two hour visit when the driver graciously offered to both drop us off and later pick us up at this designated time frame we desired. I can happily report that we then took our time to circulate around the zoo corridors to breathe in fresh air on this cooler than expected morning feeling strongly that some wild animals caged in close proximity to us would sense our presence to them and provide some interesting natural behavior to observe. In this regard, I soon imagined the loud cacophony of squawking parrots and toucans begging to be let out of their cage, the loud roar of the big cats feeling hungry for some new meat, the unfolding plume of a peacock proudly flirting with its mate and the squeaking monkeys calling to each other in free spirited play.
Aruba (Saving Earth)
Beautiful white sand beaches abound around much of Aruba but overdevelopment of the island presents a serious problem from a climate crisis perspective. So from my vantage point based on our latest bus excursion from our cruise stop in Oranjestad, I advise any prospective tourist who visits Aruba to decide more selectively where to go in order to experience those rugged windswept vistas and pristine shorelines that this popular island mecca for tourism is noted for. Know for instance that much of the island suffers now from a serious water shortage, especially the cactus filled interior which receives less than ten inches of rainfall per year. Along the popular west coast, rapid urban gentrification in popular tourist spots like Palm Beach and Eagle Beach means seemingly endless rows of urban sprawl and associated problems of air pollution, traffic congestion and undisposable piles of plastic and other discarded garbage along the road. With up to 12,000 cruise boat tourists arriving at times in Oranjestad on a given day, a more relaxing piece of advice then seems that a savvy tourist should prioritize a slow drive to the more remote northern tip of Aruba at Arashi Beach as we did today. Just plop down then with your sun block, sip some refreshing coconut water and watch out for the deceptive pull of the undertow when you take a dip in the Caribbean Sea.
Curacao (Range of Emotion)
From previous visits to the Dutch capital of Willemstad in Curaçao, I’ve been very much reminded that this inviting tourist spot seems to be a smaller version of Amsterdam, Holland with its accessible walkways over narrow canals into a colorfully quaint town center. But for our final tour of this cruise vacation into the interior of the island, it seemed I wanted to experience something more firsthand just than reliving nostalgic memories of past European settings. So off we went by bus instead to an island ostrich farm where our super enthusiastic guide on the park tram encouraged us to more directly encounter these prehistoric avian giants in the wilds. You might imagine how much I laughed then upon volunteering to stick my arm out with a bucket of pellets over the fence barrier as several of them anxiously pecked away at this inviting snack. Somewhat more fearfully, I also repeated the experiment again with no bucket as the toothless ostriches took the treats by awkwardly pecking my hand. But it seems that I obtained the greatest thrill at the end of this visit in noticing how a severely autistic man sitting across from me on our excursion smiled very happily as a result of this most unusual ostrich encounter.
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Wonderful cruise. We had great weather and stops. If you are looking for variety and relaxation this is the way to vacation!
Nice blog, Jim. Regarding Trinidad, I remember when I was a preteen, my father went to Trinidad helping install the first satellite tracking system. On the same month long trip, he helped install NASA’s first computer in Houston. Because his job was so highly classified, he never spoke a word about Trinidad and I only found out about NASA’s computer in the early 80’s when they visited me and he wanted to visit NASA. The name of the project was The Corona Project and it wasn’t declassified so it could be talked about, until 35 years after the project ended.
That’s quite interesting Dan. Thanks for sharing.
I can almost smell the salty breeze from some of your pictures. I love the colourful buildings in Curacao. Sounds like you’re having a wonderful trip.
That’s a lovely comment of my sensory intent for this blog. Thank you.
It’s been a long time since I took a trip like this. It looks glorious.
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