The day after Jamaica was Bill’s birthday and a day at sea. He chose one of the speciality restaurants on the ship, a Japanese restaurant for his birthday dinner. The chef prepared the food at our table and even wrote “Happy Birthday Bill” using egg yolk. After dinner they surprised him with a big slice of birthday cake.
The next day was the port of Aruba. The cruise ship port is located at Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba. The flat island is known for its beautiful white sandy beaches. The continuous trade winds keep the temperature at a constant 81° year round. It has a dry climate with a yearly rainfall that does not exceed 20 inches and is located outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt.
It is one of four countries that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands. All the citizens of Aruba are Dutch nationals. The island measures twenty miles long and six miles wide.
It is densely populated with about 108,000 residents, with most of them living on the western and southern coasts. Dutch is the official language though English is widely spoken.
The Dutch influence is obvious in the tall multicolored houses with carved wooden doors and Dutch tile patios.
We had read that Aruba was safe and easy to explore on your own using their excellent bus system called “Arubus”. So when we left the ship we asked at the tourist Information desk where we could find the bus station. It was a little tricky to find and we had to stop a couple more times and ask for directions, finally locating it behind a building. For $10 each we were able to buy a day pass to ride the bus all day.
Our main destination was the California Lighthouse on the northwest tip of the island. The main problem was the closest bus stop to the lighthouse was about a mile uphill walk. The very nice bus driver made sure we understood where the bus would pick us back up. Normally a mile walk each way is no problem for us but I was still sick with bronchitis and had a terrible cough. It was also a warm day and the 80° was pretty hot in the cloudless sunshine. That mile walk felt endless.
The California lighthouse was constructed in 1916 and named for the steamship California, which wrecked nearby in 1891. At 98 feet, it is the highest structure on the island. I was thrilled when Bill found a shortcut back to the bus stop from the rear of a restaurant located next to the lighthouse.
Before we caught the bus back we stopped at a little beach shack restaurant for lunch. The cold drinks sure tasted good. It was nice sitting in the shade watching families enjoying the beach.
On the way back we got off the bus once more to grab a couple geocaches.
The buses come by frequently so it is always easy to catch another bus. The bus drivers were so friendly and helpful. We were so surprised to see the cactus strewn landscape, with very large cacti. Many people use cacti instead of fencing.
When we arrived back at the bus terminal we decided to put our day pass to good use. We changed to a bus that would take us to San Nicholas, at the southern tip of the island. But we got more than we bargained for, with the bus frequently stopping to pick up passengers, local high school students and people getting off work. It took over an hour to get to the far end, which meant over an hour back to the bus terminal. It was a great way to see the island and the locals, but we were more than ready to get off the bus!
As we walked back to the ship Bill gave our day passes to a local lady. The buses ran until 9:00 pm so hopefully someone used them the rest of the day.
It was nice to get back to the ship and have some cold drinks and ice cream!!
Next up: Bonaire