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Remember in the cartoons when Speedy Gonzales of Looney Tunes fame would race around crying out ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!? I found out that this common Mexican saying roughly translates to a good old Lleighton Hewitt “come on”! Although not even remotely Mexican, Aruba, a tiny Dutch Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, with its azure blue seas lapping arid desert terrain, Yatu Cactus plants growing wild and abundance of Iguanas lazing in the sun, gave the impression of “real” Mexico.
At stop four of our Caribbean cruise, the Caribbean Island of Aruba, for some reason this saying just kept coming to mind – arriba Aruba! Maybe I had been out in the sun too long or I was getting my islands confused! Here are my hot Aruba travel tips.
Aruba prides itself on offering a “mañana” (or tomorrow) way of life blended with cooling tradewinds, friendly locals, great shopping, world-class modern resort hotels and glitzy casinos. Dutch-style buildings and windmills predominate the island and the quaint Alto Vista Chappel sits atop one of Aruba’s highest points with spectacular views to the north.
Interesting Fact: Aruba is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The citizens of these countries all share a single nationality: Dutch.
We set off on a mini-bus tour of the island with the very personable Dickson to see the sights. First stop was at an Aloe Vera Factory just out of Oranjestad where they process this desert growing plant into remedial gels and creams.
In the centre of the island we found the Casibari Rock formations. A path leads you to the top of these giant boulders from which you have a great view of Aruba’s landscape.
Heading over to the wild windy unprotected side of the island we took in the spectacle of The Natural Bridge that was formed naturally over the centuries by the pounding sea. Unfortunately this natural bridge which spanned more than 30m collapsed in 2005 but it is still a popular landmark.
We visited the California Lighthouse, an impressive landmark in the barren, almost lunar-like landscape, surrounding it. Its location allows commanding views of the north coast, the sand dunes area, and also towards the high-rise hotel area.
A drive up a winding road with crosses marking the stations of the cross reaches the site of the Alto Vista Chapel high above the sea. This small Catholic chapel is also known as “Pilgrims Church” and dates back to 1750. It was a beautiful place for peace and contemplation whilst enjoying spectacular views of the North Coast.
We finished off the day with a refreshing drink and some nachos to munch on the balcony of Senor Frogs bar in Oranjestad. Naturally we also took a stroll through the local markets and souvenir shops.
Aruba was such a contrast of beauty with its desert-like arid centre and gorgeous azure blue seas fringed with white sandy beaches. On an island that cannot grow anything apart from aloe vera and cacti, and has to import absolutely everything from nearby Venezuala, it is a surprising survivor of the barren wasteland that it is. A most intriguing island.
For more things to do and see on the island of Aruba see 27 Fun Things To Do In Aruba Beyond The Beach
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Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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