Veeta, my sister-in-law, asked in an email about our trip to Aruba with my uncle and his wife, so I replied with the following narrative:
Day #1: after time in the sun at the resort pool we took a sunset cruise on a catamaran.
Day #2: we took a rough, 4-hour jeep tour which began at the resort’s front door and moved initially to a staging point where groups of participants assembled from a variety of hotels and resorts. There we were assigned to one of four jeeps and were told by, Marshall, our guide that the excursion was not to be anything like a bus tour – we were going on a trip to four places a bus could not reach!
The 1st stop was the site of what was once the longest natural bridge on Aruba. It held that distinction until one day in 2005 when it collapsed due to decades of erosion. All that remained was an inlet largely blocked by the soil and rock – the old bridge. Now, what was once the most popular tourist site in Aruba is simply a popular tourist site for what it was once upon a time!
The 2nd stop was at a stone structure built in the years before WWI and designed to appear as if it was a gun emplacement – although guns were never placed inside. The site was more popular as a disposal site for animal hides and parts which when dumped over the ledges into the sea would draw sharks – naturally! The sharks were then fished out for sale – until about 2007 when two fishermen fell into the water and were killed. Fishing is no longer permitted from the ledges. Surrounding the site are hundreds of sets of stacked rocks; each stack consisting of 7-rocks positioned by hundreds of tourists who created a tourist site. Fascinating?
At the 3rd stop I took pictures of Lana balancing (pic 4754) near the top of a pile of rocks outside a cave. Later in the day this note was sent to my Jack & Courtney who had visited the site on their honeymoon only weeks earlier: “Writing from an iPad…recall the Black Rock Beach in Aruba while on your jeep tour. Recall the cave high on the far side. Recall your mother, Jack, and your mother-in-law, Courtney. Picture said woman in said cave with self below taking pictures. Then picture bees by-the-score and said woman stripping off her clothing with self no longer taking pictures but instead beckoning said woman off the rocks to the water’s edge for recovery efforts. Life is always exciting with said woman. Full story to follow.”
Lana had managed to raise her arms in the cave with the expectation that I would take a picture similar to ones Jack and Courtney had taken in Belize. I was at the least, agreeable. As she held her hands high, the unseen swarm of bees above her head took umbrage and commenced to fly about rather madly and indiscriminately stinging places and parts of her obviously nimble, tender body [in the initial draft it read “nibble body” and she thought the word was supposed to be “nubile body”!]. I had seen this type scene play out in Korea when a soldier got caught up in a bee swarm and left one of our two machine guns under the swarm. So I was not surprised to learn – once the bees had departed the vicinity of her body – that her prized hat and prescription sunglasses were somewhere near the original bee swarm – the same kind of place where I where I ran to recover the machine gun! I figured hat & glasses were probably down in a crevice where I was sure to be the bees’ new target! As I began the climb to the assumed crevice, our affable tour-guide arrived having stumbled badly crossing the smooth stones at the base of the rock pile in his haste to provide assistance – and or recovery! My bet is that he must have seen a pending lawsuit up in the rocks and wanted defuse it in any manner possible – whereas all I saw was my hysterical wife! (Pun intended.) Together Marshall and I began a brief search which culminated at the lip of – yep – a crevice. After jumping into the gap and retrieving the items, I heard a familiar voice behind us – it was Lana. She was ambling back up the rocks to get a closer inspection of where the bees where supposedly hiding in plain sight! And for the love of Saint Pete – she wanted a photo of the swarm! She got a photo but was unsatisfied with it so she moved closer to take another. I just knew what was going to happen next. Despite my premonition and her luck, it didn’t happen so we were able to rather readily resume the jeep excursion after the 2nd photo!
The last stop of the excursion was in a national park – a very barren, rocky, rough ridge line along the southern coast of Aruba. The four jeeps stopped on a small plateau that provided a view of hills behind us, a beautiful view of the sea in the distant and a steep descent to the rocky shoreline. Upon moving closer to the edge of the plateau, we could see a winding path of 85 stone steps to the shore – our ultimate destination. To reach the “natural pool” Lana and I had to stumble barefoot thru a narrow, jagged rock pathway; only to be tossed about by sea water crashing thru gaps in the rock walls surrounding the pool (slightly left, distant and behind Lana’s head in picture.
Day #3: Lana and her pal Regis went snorkeling. I later resolved that the underwater camera gifted to me by Jack – and that I had loaned back to him for a similar trip his Aruba – was not set to count discrete photos as it had been for use on our kayaks in Georgia. Whatever it was set for, it took great shots from inside Lana’s red, bank carry-bag, but did not take any useful shots of sea life! (pic GOPR3146)
Day #4: Lana and her mate took first-time wind surfing lessons, some of which they were able to replicate on the water. At the end of the allocated 2-hours, they managed the energy to high-five themselves for not taking the 5-hour lesson!
Day #5: after a standard, courtyard breakfast in the next-door resort and following a short cab ride to the airport, we stood for an hour as the 7th and 8th passengers in line waiting for the Delta counters to open so that we could go thru customs twice: first the Dutch and then the US. After arrival in Atlanta and collecting our waiting luggage, we all took a 10-minute park-n-ride bus trip from the ATL international terminal to the ATL domestic terminal so that we could find another park-n-ride bus that would take us on another 10-minute ride back to the ATL international terminal where our SUV was parked a mere 2-minutes away. Yes, we had carefully planned to park near the INTL terminal so that we could expedite our exit from the airport grounds!
Recommendations? Yes, we have some!