“Hello and welcome to our One Happy Island! I have been following your adventure and always wondered if you were to venture to Aruba, and here you are! Love to meet you in person and hear all about your travels. “
This was the most unexpected and wonderful message we received just a couple of days after we landed in Aruba, and it led to some awesome adventures and a great friendship.
The first place this guys (a family from Europe who now live in Aruba) took us was Taste of Belgium, a restaurant located in the Palm Beach Plaza Mall. Great style, food and service.
After coffee and hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream, we piled up in their jeep and went to check out couple of Aruba’s most popular tourist attractions: California Lighthouse and Alto Vista Chapel.
After a short drive on a narrow road surrounded by sand dunes and spiky Divi Divi trees all twisted and bent from the tradewinds, stretching branches to the southwest, we got to the northwest tip of Aruba where the island’s most famous landmark rises.
California Lighthouse is a 30-meter lighthouse built in 1916 near Arashi Beach. It was named after the steamship California that wrecked near the shores in September 23, 1891.
The Arashi Beach itself is a popular snorkeling destination away from the big hotels and crowds attracting locals and tourists with its rock formations and underwater life.
The Arashi Beach is a participant in the Aruba Reef Care Project to clean up reefs, shallow waters and public beaches. Arashi is Blue Flag certified, part of a program to promote green behavior and increase eco-awareness on the island.
Further down the winding dusty road with a string of crosses all along one side we got to a small chapel built on a hill overlooking the sea amidst a forest of cacti which cover most of this hot dry flat island. From this small hill we could see not only the Caribbean sea but the entire island stretching to the south.
Alto Vista Chapel was built in 1750 by Domingo Silvestre, a Venezuelan missionary, and rebuilt in 1952. It is also known as “Pilgrims Church”. Here started the conversion of Aruban Indians to Christianity.
Behind the chapel we found an intricate labyrinth which didn’t seem very complicated but it took us a long time to get to its center without cheating… A long time under the burning desert sun.
On the way back we made a few stops just to look at the sea and shores which on the north side of the island, the harsh, unprotected by the relentless tradewinds shores, looks wild and unforgiving. Swimming here is forbidden by law.
We didn’t even think about swimming here, nor sailing… It’s one of those awesome places of power where nature just wants to be left alone. Respect.
The same afternoon our new friends picked us up from Palm Beach near where Fata Morgana was anchored (us and a huge bag with dirty laundry), and took us to their home for a “washing party”. While our clothed, towels and bed sheets were miraculously being washed and dried in a real big washing machine and drier, we shared stories, drinks and nice dinner- BBQ and the tastiest butter potatoes with mozzarella cheese, and crème brule for dessert. The kids played in the sun-heated swimming pool.
Not many land-based people truly understand the needs and daily problems of the cruising liveabord family (laundry and land transportation mostly). But these guys knew. They gave us a tour of Aruba, and insisted to help us do our washing and grocery shopping. Our gratitude cannot be expressed with words. The hospitality, generosity and kindness of these people whom we had just met the same morning are immense.
When we got home that day Maya couldn’t believe that all those things happened in just one day. She kept asking: “Did we really just meet them this morning?” It felt like we knew them for much longer time.