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Aruba - One Happy Island

April 12, 2002

Iguanas were everywhere

You Want to Go Where?

There was still a heavy blanket of snow on the ground when son Jim called early this year. "I've got a chance to get a week at some condos in Aruba this spring for next to nothing. Why don't you and Penny come down with Alison and I? You need to get away - you've been working too hard!" he said.

Between the business trips and deadlines, it had been a very busy winter for me. I looked out over the fields with their crusty covering of snow that was hard skiing. "Tell me more" I said. "Where is Aruba?"

"You remember. Alison and I went there on our honeymoon three years ago. It is in the Carribean. You'll love it - lots of stuff to do, and a wonderful climate. And it will be practically a free vacation. You can use some of those frequent flyer miles to go there. All you'll have to pay for is your meals."

I pulled out a map and located Aruba. It is a small island in the Caribbean, only about 20 miles long by 7 miles wide. The literature Jim had on the place from his last trip made it sound wonderful. White coral sand beaches, a moderate tempurature thanks to the prevailing tropical breezes. Fun things to do, good restaurants, duty-free shopping, a favorable exchange rate. Most importantly, it was going to be a family reunion, with two of the four kids there.

And so it was settled. We were all going to Aruba for a week in early April. The dates the condos were available fit my project deliverables schedule (or did at the time we made our reservations, anyway). I had nothing due, and could slip away without worrying about office work (or so I thought). Russ took time off from work to join us, and Shirley and Dave met us there as well. Other than Jim and Alison, the rest of us had never been there.

I make it a rule never to head for a foreign country without trying to find out something about it. It is useful to know whether a Visa is needed, what the local currency and exchange rates are, what the local electrical voltage and current are so you know whether a transformer is needed to run a hairdryer or computer in your hotel, what the local politics are, a little about the local history, etc. I could have saved the time doing the research for Aruba, however.

Visiting this little island is closer to being an American experience than some states that I've been to! I could understand Auruban English better than trying to deciper Texan or the taxi drivers in Washington, DC. Nearly everyone we met in Aruba spoke a soft, musical English and all the signs were in correctly spelled English. Nearly everything was priced in US$. When I wanted to obtain some of the local currency as a souvenir, Auruban Florins, it took a special effort to do so. Russ made an attempt to learn Papiamento, the native dialect, but English was used everywhere.

The Auruba Tourist Bureau website was full of useful facts, however, if you are interested. Most of the hotels had their own websites as well. In a nutshell:

Visa requirements from the US - none required
Official Languages - Dutch and Papiamento
Location - Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean 18 miles north of the Venezuela coast
Currency - Aruban Florins. Exchange rate is 1 Afl = US$0.54
Electricity - 220v AC 50 cyles or 110v AC 60 cycles, European or North American plugs
Phone connection hardware - RJ11 North American plugs

From the time that we landed at the Queen Beatrix International Airport outside Oranjestad, Aruba, until we flew out a week later, we all had a fun time. It was a good family reunion, and Alison our "tour director" lined up plenty of great things for us to do. And there are lots of tales to tell, but I didn't keep a journal and don't plan on writing one. I figured that this Maine Farmhouse Journal would be just a collection of images to remember our trip. Thanks to Jim for making the arrangements for the condos, and Alison for helping plan our days.

Allen Crabtree

Flamingos shared our beaches

Aloe grows wild
all over the island

The white coral sand beaches
were wonderful

Aruba - one happy island

Even the trees were colorful!

The natural bridge

Aruba's northern coast

Shirley and Dave in
Guadirikiri Cave

A local steel drum band

Casibari Indian Pictographs

Aruban masks

Fisherman at the town docks

1873 Schooner

Al in Guadirikiri Cave

Submarine Atlantis

Inside the Atlantis on a dive

Fish at the Atlantis porthole

Wreck on the ocean floor


Atlantis and subtender

Shirley and Dave

Jim and Al

Russ and Alison

The group in Oranjestad

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Last updated October 24, 2002

Copyright © 2002, Allen Crabtree