Saturday, July 2, 2011

the hitchhiker's guide to aruba | february 3

When I was going back through our photos after our trip I was shocked at the (relatively) small number that we took on the fifth day. I think we were just exhausted (and therefore took a lot of time to rest mid-day), and we also ran into a few snags (read: adventures) that led to us taking fewer photos.

One of the items on our must-do list for the trip (next to snorkeling) was to find the natural bridge at Seroe Colorado (not to be confused with the collapsed natural bridges on the tourist route that we'd seen the day before). We were so keen to get to this one because it's in a position that makes it perfect to photograph sunrise under it.

So, we got up well before the sunrise we were so keen to capture and set off. The only problem was that we couldn't find it (the bridge, not the sunrise)! Oh, we searched and searched (after the drive from Oranjestand across the island, through San Nicholas, to Seroe Colorado). Everything we'd read online said that we should hike down from the base of a lighthouse, but we never found a lighthouse that day (ha! more on that next time).

Eventually we settled for sunrise at Rodgers (?) Beach, which was just gorgeous. And at this point we'd been up for two hours driving and scrambling around, so we were glad just to stop and enjoy something for a few minutes.

These are the dunes that we had to climb over (and wade through the brush of) to get to the ocean.

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It was on this morning that I snapped one of my favorite photos of the whole trip (featured on a scrapbook page here). After all that searching pre-dawn and then hiking over sand dunes (because our car couldn't drive over sand), I happened to look down and see this little guy hanging around outside his hole. He was kind enough to hang around a little longer so I could get the camera up and take his picture.

Even when you don't find what you're looking for, you still often find something cool if you just take the time to look around. :)

February 3, 2011

And we got to see a gorgeous sunrise all the same.

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Now that the sun was out, we decided to make the best use of our time on the other end of the island and scout around for the lighthouse/natural bridge so that we could come back the next morning and try again for sunrise photos.

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We never did find the silly lighthouse that day, but while we were wandering we accidentally found a military testing range. We knew it was there, but didn't realize that we'd wandered into its bounds (we'd been meandering all over the coast for a while) until we saw a big olive drab truck heading our way across the brush. At that point we did the smart thing and left...

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...and instead stuck to the decidedly non-miliary (and goat-filled) parts of the landscape.

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I totally giggled at this sign for the windmills. Vader? Hello? :) But it was Darren who pointed out "Piet" (very close to Admiral Piett, also from Star Wars). Good catch on his part!

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During our wanderings (if it seems like we did a lot of that, it's because we did! We love wandering...) we came across an abandoned-looking beach and decided to nickname it the "Ghost Town Beach" (there we go making up names for stuff again). We were totally fascinated with the deserted structures and peeling paint.

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And also with the lovely variety of tidepools. I was also particularly smitten with the ledges of rock between the beach and ocean- the variations in textures on this single, tiny little island are truly incredible!

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After a couple of hours (and absolutely no luck finding the #@#$% lighthouse or the natural bridge) we decided to go back to the room and rest our tired little selves.

And along the way, of course, I just had to stop and photograph more storefronts. I think I got a bit close to this one (but the front of it was maybe 10-20 feet from the road, so it was either this or shoot from across the street).

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I love the little sign on this one "supported by Hopeful Supercenter N.V." Because it would be terrible to be supported by the "Disillusioned Supercenter."

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Tons and tons of little snack and "take away" places, many right in front of or beside houses. Cottage industry at its finest.

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In addition to dozens of Chinese grocery stores, there were also tons of Chinese restaurants and bars.

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This guy caught me taking a photo of the S-Chow (which I could see being in Army of Darkness, a la "S Mart") and struck an impromptu pose. His wife looks thrilled.

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Back at the hotel we found that the internet was back on (did I mention that it went out for two days?), and just in time! Apparently the power had gone out early in the morning after we'd left, and the router/modem had responded well to a good reboot.

With the internet connection back I was finally able to catch up on some email and blogs, and also able to solve the mystery of the unfindable lighthouse. Thanks to this page and this page, I discovered that we hadn't found the lighthouse because this particular specimen looked nothing like the archetypal lighthouse. No, it was a total weirdo! You can click through those links if you want to see photos now, otherwise I'll have a few in my next post.

And after spending an embarrassing amount of time lounging about in our hotel room (did I mention we were tired? Have you seen the other Aruba posts?), we ventured back out to my very favorite spot on the island- my little hidden pool near the dunes at Arashi beach.

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I don't have any photos of the pool from this trip (not to worry, we took tons on the days before and after this one) since I opted to leave the camera in the car and just play in the water for a while. I did, however, take some beach shots along the way.

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After returning to the room from this little expedition, I did something unthinkable. I asked Darren if we could go back to downtown Oranjestand (gasp!). You see, I committed a cardinal sin when packing for this trip- I didn't bring the right shoes with me. Actually, I didn't have the right shoes to begin with. I do own a sweet pair of Vasque hiking boots, but they're more suited to plowing through snow in Colorado than wading through sand (and my feet weren't going to survive another day of hiking in Tevas that filled with rock and sand way to easily), and I hadn't brought them with me anyway. What I needed was a pair of lightweight hiking shoes, and as luck would have it there was a Columbia Sportswear store only a few miles from the hotel. They had the perfect shoes, in my size, and for a totally reasonable price (that is, no more expensive than they would have been in the States).

On the way back to our car we had a slightly scary encounter with a slightly scary dude (the only mildly scary thing that happened the entire time we were there), and I think Darren wanted to kill me when I pulled out the camera in a not so great section of town to snap a photo of this restaraunt sign.

But, really, Kow Loon? How could I resist?!??

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We retreated back to the room for the rest of the evening, where I continued to enjoy the internet connection...

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...and admire my spiffy new hiking shoes. Side note: these are just about my favorite shoes ever, and I wear them constantly at home, especially when I'm in weightlifting class. They're just about perfect!

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My next post will have toooooons of photos...stay tuned to see if we ever did find that pesky lighthouse!