Any time you get the chance to look down and see a bird flying below you, that is grace. Humans fly in a tin can and it’s amazing, but imagine gliding free with the wind against your skin, nothing artificial holding you aloft. I sit in the ruins of this ancient building, watching the birds fly above and below me, their slender black feet fluttering against white feathers, bodies effortless in the wind. Entranced.
It’s been a good day of discovery. We’ve wandered around the island, searching among ruins, clambering jagged rocks, and finally sipped from the sweet rough mouth of a freshly split coconut. Paradise has its place.
I’m cheap. Both in my real life and my travel life, which is mostly why I can afford to leave the country on a semi regular basis. That’s part of why Aruba hurts my soul.
$5 for a regular box of cereal.
$3 for a cup of ice topped off by a splash of Sprite.
$2.50 for half a dozen eggs
And a willy nilly attitude toward dollar to florins conversion.
The Internet says you get $1.79 florins for every $1 US. We have yet to get that when we pay for things in US dollars, especially when the person behind the counter/bar/register guesstimates the conversion rate. We’ll get some florins from the bank today and see if we fare any better.
In the meantime, we’re glad we brought some $0.40 boxes of mac and cheese from Aldi to eat when we’re not checking out the local food situation.
The landscape is amazing here. Miles of desert and cacti and the sound of howling dogs. Then a slight shift of the eyes to the right and the sea, big blue and wide, comes into view in all its magnificence. An unexpected companionship.
So, our internet went out. In the course of getting us reconnected to the digital world, I found two ticks. One dead and dried up and one alive and crawling toward me, on the hunt for a “blood meal” according to the Internet. I tried not to freak out, but once our digital connection was reestablished, I told Angela what I found and we frantically scoured the Internet for what to do. We considered packing up our bags and leaving the next day. Changing rooms. Changing apartments. Changing islands.
Angela panicked and grabbed the Oreos. I examined every bite on my body (all two) to suss out whether or not they had been inflicted by ticks. Now, we’re looking at each other wondering what to do.
There’s an unrelenting breeze here. Reports say they are 20 (or so) miles per hours gusts. Because of this, there is a near constant howling in the cul de sac where we are staying, the strong wind whipping through the trees, battering against the door, slapping your face as if to make sure you have its attention. You get used to the howling, so when it dies away, as it will occasionally and suddenly, the silence left behind feels almost uncomfortable with the weight of something missing.
Our rental car, possibly the oldest and loudest car in all of Aruba, already has squeaky (dodgy) brakes, so the sudden stop in the middle of the road accompanied by the Mom Arm across the chest was a bit of a surprise. I thought we had at least risked life and limb for a mountain goat, maybe one of those frightening stray dogs that stroll up to unfamiliar cars and piss on them. But no, just a lizard.
I’ve never been to a Dutch island before. The people don’t look how I’ve maybe subconsciously trained myself to think island people are supposed to look. Maybe that should be my next thing, visiting different islands around the world. Unsettle my expectations.
The airport reminded me, oddly, of Naples, Italy, my visit there last year that left me feeling slightly unmoored, waiting outside the small airport for someone to pick me up who I was not sure I would recognize. Angela and I accosted every lone female at the airport, asking with a quiet air of desperation if she was Agnes.
The third time, we got lucky when we spotted a thin Norwegian looking woman, blonde and long legged in a constantly moving scattering of brown and beige people speaking a wonderful mix of patois, Papiamento, English, Dutch, and other languages I didn’t recognize.
Agnes was sweet and charming, looked young and hopeful, like those kids who leave college or high school for a summer living in their backpacks. But later we find she is a mother of two, married and looking forward to a vacation with her husband to Suriname, their first in five years.
We head off to the airbnb guest house, driving through dry heat, the wind grabbing at us, Agnes’s pleasant chatter as I stare at the people we pass, thinking this is an odd Caribbean island. No mangoes. No velvet black skin. It would take some getting used to. And I was ready.
Everything moved at the speed of slow this morning. After getting up three minutes before my 3 am alarm, I breezed through a shower and airport ride only to wait for about an hour with Angela to get checked in for our flight. We got to the airport in plenty of time, but after all the waiting and there being only one person dealing with checked luggage and international boarding passes, Angela and I had to RUN to security. Only to wait for the inexplicably tardy “plane train.” Then we rushed to our gate to the nightmarish sound of “this is the final boarding call…” But we made the flight and Angela got to nap.
For no real reason, I’ve decided to start a travel blog. The plan is to have random photos of the places I visit. Sometimes I’ll be in these photos, most times I won’t.
Right now I should be sleeping to get ready for my 3 am wake up call (in two and a half hours) so I can make it to the airport and be on my way to Aruba. But I’m too used to going to bed at 1 and 2 am. Which sucks. So, instead of sleeping, I’m creating a blog. So typical. Anyway, I should try and at least get a nap in.