Saturday, May 14, 2011

the hitchhiker's guide to aruba | february 1

I woke up on February 1st, our second full day in Aruba, with the crazy idea that we should go into port in Oranjestad for just one day to see what it was all about. Darren agreed, so off we went.

On the way there we stopped by the post office, mostly because as a scrapbooker I'm easily amused by anything colorful printed on paper. Especially little bits of paper. 


It turns out that they get lots and lots of travelers in the central post office and even have a little museum of sorts set up in the lobby and a whole counter just for stamp collectors. I left with more than a few pretty sheets of postage to add to my albums.

Then it was on to the port, which was not yet crazy busy as it was still early enough in the morning the cruise ships hadn't cleared customs and debarked passengers.



Honestly, it looked just like every other cruise terminal I've seen over the years, with many of the exact same shops you'll find in ports like Cozumel, Cancun, and Nassau. We did think that the big, two-story outdoor mall had some interesting architecture, so we spend a bit of time photographing and it looking through the windows at all the shops.





Just like our first day in Aruba, we couldn't find a shop with a decent map- not even the dive shop had a very usable diving map!! We did, however, find a very colorful outdoor market that, again, looks like every other outdoor market we've seen. I'm thinking I need to go to a different hemisphere to experience a true outdoor bazaar. :)



We did find some pretty bits of scenery nestled amongst the tourist attractions.



Darren was mildly interested in a restored fort (mostly, I think, because of the cannon), but not interested enough to go inside and take a tour.



And it was around this time that the cruise ships started to unload and things got a bit crowded.


Though none of that stopped Darren from continuing to climb things. :)


This little waterway ran underneath the street to a below-ground shopping center that contained some very high-end stores and an extremely crowded Starbucks.


After wandering around a bit more (and popping into Hard Rock and not finding any cool t-shirts) we decided we were a bit underwhelmed with the port and headed back to our car (with me taking photos the whole time).


This is that same two-story shopping plaza we were in earlier in the morning, as seen from across the street.




The sign on this door made me laugh so hard. Foreign signs fascinate me as much as foreign grocery stores!


Speaking of grocery stores, we happened by this one on the way out of the port area and decided to pop in. They had a much bigger selection of the "normal" items that tourists might be looking for. Darren also came across a display of "It Coco" bars, which are apparently his favorites right next to Bounty.


I have to stop for a minute and say that, yeah, based on what fascinates us, we may be a little strange. But we like it that way. :)


A car wash on a desert island seems a little incongruous, don't you think?


Back at the room we relaxed and enjoyed some of the spoils of our latest grocery store conquest.



And then headed right back out to the parts of the island that we were totally in love with- namely the parts that were less crowded. :)


First up on our agenda for the afternoon was a drive up to the California Lighthouse. The very first thing that we noticed on arriving and getting out of our car was that the view from the top of the hill was absolutely gorgeous. Depending on which way you looked, either most of the island or a vast expanse of ocean is visible.


We also discovered wild goats grazing on the rocky ground among the cacti. I totally had the wrong lens on the camera for taking photos of them (I'd switched to the wide angle to get scenics and left my zoom in the car), but you can see a large portion of the herd (including some kids) in this photo.


It was also around this time that we were approached by a representative from a nearby golf course/resort who asked if we would like to take a tour. We politely declined, then had a good laugh later that maybe people who chase goats through cactus and weeds aren't really the best people to pitch resorts to. :)


I remember being slightly annoyed as I took this photo that there was a garbage can permanently affixed on one side of the lighthouse and a car parked on the other such that I couldn't get a good photo without one or the other (or both) in it. Still, the lighthouse was quite cool to see.


On the way to Arashi beach (where we planned to snorkel) from the lighthouse, we caught a glimpse of these huge rocks just over the dunes and decided to investigate.


And climb them, of course!!


And since we were there already we decided to keep hiking/walking/climbing right up to the shore.



I think I could have just stood and stared at the ocean for hours and hours in some places on this island.



As we walked along, we noticed more really big rocks actually in the water, and of course decided to investigate that, too.


Getting closer...


...and playing in tidepools...


...and taking video (Darren really took a liking to my point and shoot's video capability)...


...and finally we arrived at the largest formation.


And Darren climbed it.


And then, not to be outdone, I climbed it, too (though I started with one of the smaller ones).



And look what I found on the other side!!! You totally couldn't see this little pool from the beach, but once you got over the larger rocks, you were in mostly protected, somewhat calm waters.


I say mostly calm, because every once in a while a big wave would come in and knock me around a bit. It ended up being one of my absolute favorite places on the island, and one that we would come back to several times.


Since the waves were a bit unpredictable I didn't dare take the D3 into the pool, but my little Pentax (the point and shoot) is waterproof, and I used it to get some shots as I waded around.



And then we were off to do what we'd been dreaming of since we started planning this trip- snorkeling!!


We chose to snorkel Arashi first since we'd love it so much the day before, and it didn't disappoint (images courtesy, once again, of my waterproof Pentax).


We spotted a stingray (which I didn't get a good picture of) and lots and gorgeous tropical fish.



February 1, 2011

After completely wearing ourselves out with a couple of hours of snorkeling (not to mention the morning's sightseeing and the afternoon's hiking), we settled in to watch the sun set before heading back to the room.



Just for fun, here's a shot of our total laziness that evening. We were so glad to have internet in the room!


And, yes, that's a scrapbooking blog I was surfing. Some things will never change no matter what country I'm in!