Friday, November 2, 2012

Aruba! One Happy Island

Saturday – One Happy Island

Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Here we are at the airport. We've gone through customs, which only took an hour, so now we wait for our flight. So sad to be leaving this island! But isn't it great that they have you go through customs right away, instead of half-way through your trip home? Very accommodating.

The cab driver this afternoon was a woman, very friendly (like most everyone else here) and chatty. So I asked her a lot of questions, because I'm curious. She made the short trip to the airport fly by in a flash, and I'm glad we got in her cab.

Like most natives of Aruba, she speaks four languages: Dutch, English, Spanish, and Papiamento (the Aruban language). Her daughter is studying in Holland to be a dietician, and she's already all over her mom about her diet. Kids are the same the world over, eh? She (the cabbie) said that everybody in Aruba owns a home, however modest or lavish it may be. The average wage is about $6 (“working” folks at the hotels and so on...not the doctors and lawyers!). Both spouses have jobs, and everyone lives well and comfortably. If not (she says), it's because the person is lazy and won't work. There is no unemployment here, she says. She has no sympathy for the lazy!

When Arubans vacation, they visit the other islands, Venezuela, Colombia, the United States, and Holland (She calls it Holland rather than The Netherlands). She's been to Holland twice and says it's beautiful, but she wouldn't want to live there. She says it's too big (She likes the size of her island), and it's way to liberal for her. Arubans are Dutch citizens and can just up and move to Holland, but not vice-versa. Folks from Holland have to have a special visa to live in Aruba. Otherwise, she says, they would all be in Aruba! She's glad Aruba is still a safe place, but it has grown a lot in population, and she doesn't know how much longer it will be that way. “You never know who you're letting into the country,” she says. [Again, this was just a couple of weeks before Natalee Holloway disappeared.]

Factoid: Did I mention that the tap water in Aruba is fantastic? I mean, it is truly just delicious and better than most bottled water I've had. It's desalinated, and it's very soft. There's no need for conditioner in your hair.

Factoid: People from other places come here and sometimes sunbathe topless and appear all over the island in various states of undress. While the people at the resorts turn a blind eye, I'm told that Arubans find it highly disrespectful and immodest. So, please try to respect the local culture when you visit the island. We didn't see a lot of toplessness, but we did see one beautiful blond who was completely naked on the beach. However, she was about two years old, so I guess it's okay.

Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

We boarded our plane, and my heart grew heavy. As we lifted off, tears flowed freely down my cheeks. I did not want to leave. Not yet. Aruba really is “One Happy Island,” except when you're going home. That part is devastatingly sad.

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