The last stop on the cruise was Aruba, and we were told this is the best of all. We decided to spring for a tour this time, and got on a bus that took us around the north end of the island and then dropped us on a beach for a couple hours. We took some of the beach time to also visit a bird sanctuary and walk around the area.
Aruba is a Dutch island like the others, but it seemed even dryer and there was cactus everywhere. I suppose this is good for tourism because your day at the beach will rarely be rained out. I wasn’t surprised to read that 75% of the business in Aruba is tourism. There were tour buses everywhere, a happy party atmosphere, and tons of huge resorts. It felt almost like Las Vegas with a beach and not as much glitter.
It’s Thursday so this must be Aruba!
Party Bus! (tour bus) If you look closely you’ll see the back door handle is a vice grip.
Another party bus (tour bus).
When you need to renew your tags, apparently you just get a small plate and screw it on top of your main plate.
We hop on the bus and take off to go see some things.
We go through some residential neighborhoods.
The tour was in Spanish and the PA wasn’t very clear, and he mumbled and made jokes, so I don’t guarantee that any of my info is correct. But I think houses are fairly expensive here, or maintaining them is, or both.
Our first stop was at these interesting rock formations.
An interesting tree, and lots of cactus.
Another interesting thorny tree. The whole island is dry and desert like, except where things are obviously watered.
Joel finds a friend
We climb to the top of the rock formation to look around. That’s our ship way in the background!
I catch Joel in front of the view in the other direction.
We drive through more residential neighborhoods on the way to our next destination.
I’m not sure what is remarkable about this neighborhood besides the fun colors. I don’t know if I would want to live where the tour buses drive people by to stare at my house.
Our next stop was the Alto Vista Chapel, site of a chapel built in 1750. The site was discovered and a new chapel built about 60 years ago.
The inside of the Alto Vista Chapel.
It was dry with many cactus up here too.
Then, we headed towards the lighthouse, passing some of the upscale neighborhoods for the rich folks, and this golf course.
A fancy neighborhood.
The driver said this is a $5 million house.
More residential areas.
We arrive at the California Lighthouse, and the sand dunes below are pretty.
I snapped a photo of the lighthouse as we were driving away. I spent most of our few minutes there talking with the driver because I couldn’t figure out what he was saying about the lighthouse, and needed him to explain it in English. Apparently a ship named California ran aground here, and the people of Aruba took care of the people until they could get on their way again. In return, the ship people went diving and retrieved the furniture in the ship, and sold it to the locals for cheap prices.
I’m sure this place isn’t cheap either. The back yard goes to the beach.
We drive along by the beach on our way to our beach destination, passing many scenic spots.
We also start passing huge resorts.
The people get out at the beach, and when the driver learns that we are interested in the bird sanctuary he drops us off down the street nearby. The first thing we notice are these amazing lizards!
One of the girls, perhaps?
We had a great time photographing these beautiful lizards.
But, in this peaceful and green place, you only have to look up to see the huge resorts not far away.
Here’s another one!
One of the beautiful egrets walking around in the water lettuce.
Oops, yet another lizard. My searching leads me to believe these are Aruban Whiptails.
We saw some pretty ducks on the water. The water was green and murky though, so we couldn’t see what was below the surface but I think there were some turtle heads peeking up when we stayed very quiet.
Another pretty bird by the water.
After our visit to the sanctuary, we head up to the beach location passing many huge resorts along the way.
We also passed a lot of iguanas!
Another huge resort.
I had more fun photographing iguanas than resorts.
I photographed some resorts too though.
What an interesting bird in the tree.
The trees along the road were amazing.
We were told that the wind is always blowing hard in Aruba, so maybe this is why the trees are so interesting.
The Hyatt Regenc lost it’s Y
Across the street were shops and restaurants.
and more shops and restaurants
We made it to the beach spot! (the Holiday Inn beach)
The beach as far as you could see was umbrellas and beach chairs.
Joel on the beach in Aruba. Who would have ever thought?!
There were a few of these sailboats around, and I think they were for tourists to enjoy.
There were a lot of boats, and parasailing was going on in the distance.
Inflatable sofas were being dragged behind other boats.
As we leave the beach and head back to the pier, we pass many other beach areas.
On the way to town we pass the container shipping area. Since everything has to shipped in (except the children and dogs, according to the guide) it makes sense they have these facilities.
A more industrial area of town.
A few more houses
I could do this to my bike! That’s a creative kickstand.
We stop at this shopping area to buy a few gifts for friends back home.
We return to find a Holland America ship at the port, even bigger than our ship.
The Scientology ship has also arrived.
The ship is huge!
The men prepare to untie our ship.
The last look at town as we leave the port.
The white thing that looks like a submarine was being towed by a tug.
It looks even bigger from a distance.
Some other ships become visible in the distance.
An airplane comes in for a landing as we leave the island behind.
This was the last stop on our cruise. The next day was a day at sea while we made our way back to Panama.
I must say, if you have a choice on a cruise take one with a lot of Latin American people. There was music and dancing every night by young and old. There was hardly a quiet place on the boat because groups were always laughing and having lots of fun. There was the friendly attitude we love from both the staff and passengers. It’s too bad that this particular cruise route is going to end soon, but I’m sure other opportunities will come along.
For now though, we are back in Panama and the blog will go back to news and experiences of our life in Panama. Retirement is a wonderful thing, and so is living inexpensively so you have a bit of money to do some fun things.
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