Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Aruba! Wild Goats, Parasurfers, and Turtle Nests


Oh, dear. Should have remembered to apply and re-apply and re-apply sunblock yesterday before taking that drive around the island. Yes, you can catch a little too much sun in an enclosed vehicle. “Well, it was only for a few minutes,” are famous last words in Aruba. Believe me. Use maximum protection sunblock. All the time. I have seen some of the nastiest, beet-red, all-over sunburns on tourists here. I've never seen sunburns this bad before. The locals all seem to know better. 

Much of the sand had been displaced
by a storm that didn't even hit the
island. But the waves did.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Today, we drove down to the south end of the island, to Baby Beach. Baby Beach is a calm and shallow lagoon, perfect for families with children and beginning snorkelers. It was kind of crowded, especially compared to our beach, which generally has maybe a dozen people on the entire expanse. So we parked and walked on, exploring the surrounding areas.
Cute, eh?
Photo by Chris.
All rights reserved.

We met a totally strange but very friendly local woman, an artist. She was wearing a loose shirt with long sleeves and long, loose pants, and she had an incredibly broad-brimmed straw hat on. Very smart! The color of her skin (what I could see on her face) was like caramel, and her eyes were the most beautiful green-blue. We came upon her on a remote section of reef/beach past the pet cemetery. She was digging in the sand, looking for shells to use in making her painted bracelets. They were pretty, too, but I liked the plain ones made with bits of coral better. She very conveniently had plenty of bracelets in the oversized cloth bag she was carrying!

 I admired her utterly shameless “circle of love” spiel as she showed me her jewelry, trying to steer me towards the more extravagantly colored (and more expensive) bracelets. Hey, you gotta make a living. I purchased a couple of the aforementioned plain coral ones, and she said she was so happy to be sending a part of Aruba to a distant land with someone who would hold the island in her heart. [And I have. I still have the bracelets, and I still wear them. Every once in a while, I take them to the ocean so I can dip them in salt water to “refresh” them. That way, I can still smell Aruba in them. And my heart drifts away to a far-away place where I hope to return someday.]
This is not something I'd like to try.
But I love to see the skill of others!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

A bit farther, on the “wild side” of the island, we saw some parasurfers. I was fascinated. Man, they go fast! They were flying through the air, doing stunts on the waves. Simply amazing. They're so young...that must be why they have so much strength and energy!

I was going to call this one
"Trees in the Park."
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We drove up to the caves and saw some wild goats and the wildlife preserve/national park, but the sun was going down in a hurry and I was nervous on those “back country” dirt roads. The signage is “not the best,” so I think you could easily become completely disoriented and lost in the dark. And when it is dark on that side of the island, it is very, very dark. There are no lights at all. No houses. No street lights. No headlights of other vehicles. Just enveloping darkness.

Once we hit Santa Cruz, it only took a few minutes to get back “home.” The island may only be 21 miles long and 6 or 8 miles wide (at the widest), but it takes hours to get from one end to the other, especially on the dirt roads (or “the roads less traveled,” as my husband likes to call them...okay...).

Barricades protecting the turtle nests
on "our" beach.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Yesterday, I forgot to mention that there's a turtle nest on the beach! It is all barricaded up and cordoned off. Isn't that exciting, though? The turtles just arrive, lay their eggs, and cover them with sand. And soon there will be hundreds of little turtles hatching and making their way to the waves.

And speaking of beaches and waves, the waves were bigger today. Also, about the weather report: Yes, the temperature and humidity (which I didn't even notice today) are accurate, but it seems that “mostly cloudy” here means lots of clouds will pass by, but nothing much will come of it except a sunburn if you aren't careful. Please see the first paragraph. I am not kidding.

The beach (west) side of the island is gorgeous. White sand. Palm trees. Divi trees dotting the landscape. The east side is wild and desolate, with waves crashing and foaming and blowing plumes of mist way up into the air. This is an exotic place. I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.

Dinner tonight was at “Jamaica Me Krazy,” and it was very good. We didn't want a huge meal like last night's very excellent Argentinian fare, and jerk hit the spot. Harry had goat (they were out of pork tenderloin), and I had shrimp (they were out of conch). Tonight's light, highly seasoned, cream of pumpkin soup was totally different from last night's, which was thick and mild. Both were excellent.

A shower felt especially fabulous tonight, followed by a generous rubbing of Aruba Aloe after-sunlotion. Did I mention that we bought a bunch of Aruba Aloe products today? We did.

We only have 2 ½ more days in Aruba. Now, that's very, very, extremely, terribly, awfully sad!

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