Today we woke up with no alarms. I’d had the foresight to cold brew some coffee yesterday, so I poured it through the drip machine and we had iced coffee. Then, I made us bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. We ate and cleaned up, and got ourselves ready to head out. Our camera strap had broken the previous day so we set out to find a new one. We biked downtown and stopped along the way at The Coffee Table. There’s always room for more coffee. I got a regular iced coffee and I got a vanilla latte. They were both really good. We sat a while in the café, just relaxing with not much to do. Eventually, we cashed out and continued downtown towards the cruise ports. There was a ship docked today. We’re always in awe at the sheer size of those behemoths.
We wandered through the outdoor shopping mall until we found a couple electronics stores. We found three different strap options. The first one neither of us really liked and we already have it back at home, so we passed. The second one was just like the one we broke, and we prefer this style. But it was way too expensive at $70. Also the piece that we broke is still stuck in the camera, so we would need to remove that first but we don’t have pliers. Thanks TSA. The third one was only $10 but we weren’t convinced that it would be sturdy enough for our camera. So we decided to purchase nothing and just carry the camera by hand or in our bag. We also decided we should head back to our room and apply more sunblock. It was just in time too. The downtown area was quickly becoming overrun with cruisers.
Once back at the AirBnB we slathered on sunscreen, packed a small bag and hopped on the bikes and pedaled over to the beach. We met with our people and hung out in the water for a while.
Since all of the cool kids seemed to be doing it, I opted to go for a ride with 5 other people on a tube thing, towed behind a boat around the beach area. It was more like a couch than a tube. It was pretty fun, but easy to stay on, so I dragged my feet in the water for kicks. We hit a wave, and my leg plunged a lot deeper into the water. The sudden increase in drag sucked me off the tube and I had to get picked up. I got hassled a little bit. When I did it again, everyone else was annoyed, so I behaved after that. After, we all hung out in the water a while longer until we were feeling inclined towards dinner.
We showered off the salt and redressed ourselves. We regrouped at the hotel shortly thereafter, and shared a cab toward California Lighthouse. We’d heard there were good sunset photo opportunities here, as it’s situated on the western point of the island. Unfortunately, even though we had arrived before sunset, the sun had already disappeared behind some distant clouds, so what we got wasn’t as good as we had hoped. Oh well, we had dinner reservations at Faro Blanco anyway, so it wasn’t a total waste! We were seated outside and we enjoyed the lovely live music. I ordered tortellinis with chicken in a wine sauce. The name was wicked Italian, I forget what it was actually called. I got the fusilli. The pasta wasn’t quite up to the new standards we set when we went to Italy, but it was good, and the rest was great. After dinner, we caught a cab back home, and we pretty much crashed immediately. We were exhausted, probably from being in the sun all day.
This time, our alarm worked! Not that it mattered as much, since we had plenty of time this day. We were able to get up and get showered and dressed at a much more leisurely pace than yesterday. Once we were ready to go, we headed back to the hotel to meet with a fairly large party of about 25 people. It mostly consisted of friends of James and Braden and their parents and siblings. Once we were all grouped together, which was no small feat, we were shuttled in three trips to a marina a few miles up the coast. The group was then herded onto a replica pirate ship, and we set sail on the open sea!
We were to be on board for about 4 hours (I had a thought we might have a similar fate as Gilligan, but then I remembered that he set off for a 3 hour tour), making a few stops to swim, snorkel, and eat lunch. The friendly captain introduced the crew and explained the rules as we cruised out from the dock. The bar was opened shortly, and music began playing. The fun was immediate and shared by all. After cruising for about a half hour, the captain parked in some fairly shallow waters. Many of the guests donned flippers, snorkels, and goggles to explore the area around the water. We got in the water straight away and swam around. The water was excellent and there were tons of beautiful fish, though the winds and current were fairly strong. It took a bit of effort to stay near the boat. After a time, our captain Tito honked a great big horn, signaling everyone to climb back on board so he could take us somewhere else.
The next stop was at the Atilla shipwreck. Tito explained the history that caused the ship to end up on the sea floor. He explained the best method of viewing the wreckage which was to swim up-current away from the ship we were on, and then to let the current drag us back as we looked over the ship. Mandy stayed onboard, while I donned all the necessary gear and hopped into the water. I began viewing the shipwreck almost immediately, but I did as Tito suggested and swam away from his ship until the wreckage disappeared into the murky depths. It seemed that most of the other snorkelers did not heed this advice, and I felt rather isolated so far from the boat. Looking down into the ocean gave me a mild feeling of thalassophobia, so I kicked a little harder for a couple minutes to get a little closer to the ship. The wreckage was closer to the surface here anyways, and thus easier to view. Some people were swimming through parts of the shipwreck, so I took a deep breath and plunged downward. As I approached the historic steel, I felt the immense pressure in my ears and was barely able to touch the tip of it before I had to swim back up. It was not extremely painful, but I did not want to risk injury and I have no real training on how to dive properly. I gained a deep respect, and maybe a mild jealousy for those who were able to swim through the old ship. I did not want to push my luck. I continued to look over the ship from the surface, and thought about what it might have been like, back when it could still float. I eventually made my way back to the boat and rejoined our group to relay what I saw down there.
Soon, we were back underway toward our third and final stop. Here, we were moored in much shallower waters, probably about 15-20 feet deep. One of the crew setup a rope swing off the bow of the ship, and soon a line formed for those who wanted to enter the water in a more fun way. I waited patiently until I was told it was fine to enter the water. I just jumped off the side of the boat from atop the ladder to climb back on. I got to be the first one in the water, and watched as people began swinging in from the front of the ship. After grabbing some pictures from the water, and realizing how difficult it was proving to be to both tread water and snap pictures, I climbed back on and joined the line for the rope swing. My first attempt was probably the closest I got to completing a backflip off the rope. I had a blast trying time and again, though! Even when I landed flat on my back, which stung like heck. While Rob was off playing in the water I jumped in myself for a short swim and then spent the remainder of the time on board enjoying the open bar and capturing all of the rope swing jumps on photograph.
It seemed we’d be parked here a while, so I grabbed some flippers again and a snorkel, and I cruised around viewing the aquatic life. I heard reports that there was a lot more to see closer to shore, so I headed over there. There was a tiny alleyway between some boulders and the coast, so I paddled through there. It was a little unnerving how the tide was tossing me around; I thought I might get smashed into one of the jagged rock on either side of me. The fish didn’t seem too worried about it, though, so I surmised I would be fine. After I saw all there was to see, I headed back towards the boat. Along the way, I tried my best to pick up some trash I saw on the ocean floor. Unfortunately, I was only able to collect three hair ties. I grabbed what looked like a goggles strap, but it slipped out of my hand as I was resurfacing, and then it disappeared. I saw an empty beer can, but when I dove to grab it, I breathed at the wrong time. I resurfaced to try again, and then it was gone. Oh well, I did my best.
When I got back on board, lunch was served. There was grilled chicken, grouper, rice, and veggies. It was all tasty, and although it was a light meal, it was just what we needed. We did a little bit more swimming before the TOOT TOOT to get back onboard. Tito skillfully navigated us back to port, where we disembarked and thanked our whole crew. We caught a shuttle back to the hotel with everyone, then we went back to our own place just down the street. We unloaded and unwound a bit, until we were ready to head back out again.
This time, we just went a couple blocks to the grocery store. We picked up some dinner items, including a bottle of wine, and some stuff for breakfast tomorrow morning, and some snacks. In the grocery store, we had found some stroopwaffles, which we wanted, but we only wanted one each and the smallest package contained ten. We figured we could share the remainder with James and Braden and their friends. So we hopped on the bikes provided by our host, and we pedaled the few minutes to their hotel. We didn’t really have a good system of communicating, so we just parked the bikes at one end, and started walking towards the other end of the resort. We had almost reached the far end when we found everyone near one of the pools. We distributed stroopwaffles to anyone who wanted one, and we got our one each. There was one left, so I had two. Then we said, “See ya later!” and rode back to our place.
We got back and assessed the kitchen, then began preparing dinner. We sliced and spiced some brussels sprouts, and got the necessary utensils out. We put the wine on ice and brought everything out onto the shared patio area, next to the pool. Mandy set to work manning the grill, and I read the newspaper and sipped some white wine. It was super relaxing and the dinner came out amazing. After we cleaned up, we brought the remainder of the wine with us as we slipped into the pool. Our host, Rik, joined us for a few minutes. He was super friendly, and just wanted to check in with us and make sure we were content and had no issues. We informed him that everything was perfect, and we had no complaints. He left us, and we worked our way through the rest of the bottle of wine. When we were feeling a little water-logged, we went to our room to rinse off and head to bed.
We had each set our alarms for 3am. At 4am I woke with a start. I told Mandy we had to get up immediately. Our bus was to leave in a half hour, and was about a ten minute drive from our house. We scrambled through final preparations while we tried to understand how we got into this situation and how we should get back on schedule. Once our brains reached about half-power, we reasoned the best plan was to skip the bus and drive straight to the airport. It would be more expensive, but we didn't want to to forfeit the whole trip.
We hit the road and worked on some coffee. Eventually, we were fully-functional. Traffic was light, though somewhat heavier than expected. We passed our missed bus on our way. We parked and caught a bus to our terminal. The security line stretched most of the way around the lobby, across the front of the building in the way of the ticket counters. Yikes! We joined the end of the line and waited patiently. Fortunately, the line moved rather quickly, and we got through security with no issues. We left shoes on this time. We made our long way to our gate which was at one extreme of the terminal. Mandy was curious where all the people were that we'd be sharing our flight with. Good question! We double-checked the screen which showed us we were at the wrong gate. The correct one was at the opposite extreme of the terminal. We hustled, and we made it.
The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful. We boarded the plane for our direct flight to Aruba, and we sat patiently for four and a half hours until we landed. We got out of the airport and immediately found our ride waiting for us. Kelly was appointed by our host, Rik, in his absence, to pick us up and bring us to our temporary new home in Oranjestad. Kelly was super informative and very friendly. She showed us all the things we might need or want to do during our stay.
We dropped our bags and decompressed for a few minutes. Then, we set out towards Santos cafe. We met some people along the way who opted to join us for coffees. Once there, we ordered a round of iced coffees that were all delicious, and much needed to boost our energy levels.
After we were recharged a bit, we made our way to the beach. Along our way, we stopped at a bar. At the bar, we met several more people. After a round of drinks, we made it out onto the white sandy shore, and finally into the warm turquoise water. It was fantastic! We allowed ourselves to relax completely and drift with the motion of the tide.
When we were good and ready, we got out of the water. We showered and changed and made our way to Gaucho's steakhouse for dinner. Apparently there is a law in Aruba that taxis can't have more than 5 patrons riding with them at a time. But our driver was gracious enough to allow us all to go with him. We arrived at the restaurant and were promptly seated. I got a surf and turf with fried plantains, sautéed broccoli and rice. Mandy got petit tenderloin steak with sautéed broccoli, French fries, and onions. We both got sangrias. Everything was delicious. We had so much that there was no room for dessert for us, but James and Braden found room and continued to eat as the dining room was serenaded by a man with an acoustic guitar playing some classics. After dinner, we decided it would be a good idea to walk back rather than take a cab. It saved us a few bucks and helped to digest the massive amount of delicious food we’d all just consumed.
Along the way, we heard what sounded like a huge marching band practicing. We could tell they were nearby, but we couldn’t see them. The echoes of their drumming followed us all the way to the hotel, where we picked up some of our belongings before heading to our AirBnB just down the road. The band were still banging their drums, and the sounds increased as we got closer to home. As we approached our street, we saw the band in a vacant parking lot. There were fewer than ten members, which surprised us, just because it sounded like so much noise. They were pretty good, though, and we enjoyed the music as we walked. It seemed like they were packing up, which was perfect, because we were exhausted from a long day of travel, and we were hoping they wouldn’t keep us awake. When we got to our spot, we crashed very shortly after setting our alarm clock for 7:30am.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.