Ah, another warm, sluggish awakening.
The likely culprit. Ever wonder if cheap rum is simply re-packaged paint thinner?
Figured if we were going to be miserable lazy sots we may as well do it at the beach. Plus, it was becoming quite apparent that we weren't going to visit half the places I'd earmarked on the antiquated guidebook, but we ought to try for a few (especially those involving white sand and warm water). Thinking thusly, we grabbed a few small cans (seriously, beers there are a mere 7 ounces) and headed south to Baby Beach.
Passed a tribute to Seamen along the way.
The view behind door number one...
Or that of "number two". We chose the other side.
Frankie spent some time chasing the birds.
It only took a moment to realize that the buildings just behind us were abandoned, so naturally we went exploring.
Turned out one of them was an old theater half filled with sand and the figures from Carnaval floats. Wandered the rest of the complex and concluded it had been some kind of beach club now being used as a dumping ground for all things Carnaval related.
Don't know why this scares the be-jesus out of me.
Lit out for home and grabbed a snack at Nelo's along the way. We'd heard from Submariner Dave that it was worth a go, but somehow we hadn't made it over, even though it was only a few doors down from our place. Can't believe we waited so long. $6 for a huge pile of rice and salad and plantains and wonderfully fresh fried fish (yes, I know that sounds oxymoronical, but it really was fresh and fried at the same time and have I mentioned absolutely delicious?)
Even Ralphie came round for a bite.
Got all cleaned up and ambled our way up to the wedding. I sure do love that seersucker.
As night fell, we got a special surprise fireworks display. Fireworks are the best, especially when they're a surprise.
The newly marrieds.
The Fauver family band (minus the dude on drums). Such a talented bunch, makes me wish I could at least play that damn ukelele I've been staring at for the last 3 years. See Josh on the left? He's in a band called Deerhunter and they rule.
Finally got to see Phil Fauver's famed Mick Jagger impersonation. So amazing, he's got that hand-shaking strut down like nobody's business.
Fountain-wading has been a hobby of mine since I was a child.
At least I wasn't the only one getting into mischief.
Can you guess how we felt upon waking? Right. Getting to sound like the old record, eh? Unfortunately, in all the wild goings-on of the night before we'd told Pat and Bess we'd pick them up at eleven for some sight seeing on the northern, more natural side of the island, which meant leaving our nice breezy bungalow around 10 a.m. Since we couldn't call and flake (cell phones having entered a Twilight Zone of sorts) we mixed up a few bloody beers (all vitamins represented) and trudged toward the high rises. In actuality it was a good thing we did, since it was our last full day of scouting about.
Grabbed the kids and popped into a market to pick up the necessities.
Drove into Arikok National Park and checked out the sand dunes.
The sea on that side is wild and full of sharks. No kidding, they actually chum on that side to keep the toothsome carnivores away from the tourist beaches. I should also point out that most of the following pictures were taken by Franklin, as I was busy trying to keep down my breakfast.
Lots of fossilized coral.
Don't know if it was fossilized but it was definitely dead.
Stopped by a cave full of neat formations.
It was also full of bats and included a gentleman whose sole job was to wake them up and make them fly around the visitors. Poor things must've suffered major sleep deprivation.
I've said it before, but Frankie really has a knack for photographing bats.
Bess and I were a bit wary having heard that bats like to nest in your hair.
You know how I love those unexploded ordinances.
Have I mentioned the breeze? They like to call them "trade winds" which seems a rather charming way of describing the perpetual gusting 24 hours a day. Keeps things quite pleasant during the afternoon heat, but I can't imaging trying to maintain anything more exotic than my third-grade hairdo.
Dropped off the Pats and Besses and mosied down to Spanish Lagoon in time to watch the sunset.
Since we were right back where we'd been the other night we thought we'd have a better look at that abandoned building.
Not so scary in the daytime.
Made for home once again, this time with the intention of taking a nice evening stroll to find the fabled (at least in my mind) restaurant Isla Di Oro buried somewhere in the mangroves in the next town over. Of course, by the time we set out it was pitch black out and the whole concept of distance was left to the imagination. Made it about 45 minutes varying between a mangrove enshrouded dirt road and an unlit paved one before ducking into the first place we came upon, which coincidentally had also been recommended by Submariner Dave.
I'd vetoed it earlier for its lack of ambiance, but our desperation proved fortuitous as the ladies behind the counter were super nice and chatted with us in Spanglish and the food was unbelievably delicious. Probably the best meal I ate the whole trip and it came from a place that looked like El Pollo Loco (and may have translated loosely in Papiamento to just that). Stuffed ourselves silly, then walked out to the main road which led us home in all of 10 minutes.
Woke up feeling great for a change and thought we'd get in one last swim. Drove back along the dirt road we'd followed the night before and, as it always happens, found a totally deserted little cove to lie around in.
To be honest we almost didn't come home, if only I didn't always miss that damn cat.
Laid over in Miami once again. Plenty of time on our hands and no Admiral's Club so we exited security to find that not only is there a hotel inside the airport terminal, but its got a lovely restaurant up on the seventh floor surrounded by windows.
Gin and rummy and home once again.
Wedding in Aruba? Have to say I probably wouldn't ever have chosen to visit Aruba had it not been for the wedding. It definitely lives up to its reputation as a tourist mecca, and I'm still not sure exactly what the draw is in comparison to the many more tropical Caribbean Islands. Its dry, its windy and there's not a whole lot of natural beauty to make up for the general run-down look of things, all in all reminding me a lot of parts of Baja. That being said, there were some really neat things about the place and I liked it much more than I though I would, probably for reasons not found in a guide book. So many abandoned buildings, waterfront bars and really friendly people. We had a really great time and I can see how a body could stay there soaking up the sun and sea and vacation quite cheaply away from the tourist carnival. My advice if you do go? Stay south and rent a car. Oh, and explore nearby as soon as you get there so you don't leave any hidden gems uncovered til the last day...