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June 9, 2010 / ebretzel

Swimming with the fishes

We awoke to an overcast Aruba. We had planned a snorkeling excursion on a catamaran and so we waited in the tourist holding building for our guides to arrive. On the same tour was the couple from Texas that we had shared a taxi with in Puerto Rico to the ship, and also another couple who were at our dining table, Marylin and Collin. Marylin and Collin told us that they had done this exact same excursion last time they were in Aruba and it was fantastic. But this time around they somehow managed to pack more than 70 people onto a tiny catamaran. This amount of people led to mass confusion once we were all bobbing around in the water trying to find fish.

Our tour guide told us to make sure we held on to our hats and sunglasses because catamarans don’t have brakes so there was no going back to retrieve lost items. Ryan must not have listened because he lost his glasses. It took about 45 minutes to get to our destination. On the way we passed mile after mile of white beaches with gigantic resorts and golf courses. Aruba is certainly the richest island we have seen on our trip.

We all hopped into the water and started floundering around looking for fish. It was not as colorful as I had hoped, partially due to the overcast sky, and there were so many people that we were practically kicking each other. We tried to move away from the crowd somewhat and were rewarded with a sighting of a school of blue fish. One woman wouldn’t shut up about how awesome the snorkeling was in Bonaire and how this was nothing in comparison… “We saw a sea turtle, and an octopus and giant parrotfish…” Come on!!

The shipwreck Antilla

Our next stop was at the shipwreck Antilla. The Antilla was a German ship from World War II. Rather than surrender their ship to the enemy they sunk it and it sits there now for tourists to gawk at. It was pretty cool to see, but the waves were so choppy that it was difficult to stay in one spot and hard to see through the dark water. You could see part of the mast sticking up and by now the whole thing is covered in coral. On our sail back we drank rum punch in the front of the catamaran which was like a giant net and you could see the water pass beneath you.

Aruba actually has public transportation so we didn’t have to pay $20 for a taxi to take us to the beach. Instead, we payed $2 each and hopped on the bus which went directly down the strip of resorts that we had seen from the catamaran. We randomly decided to get off by the Radisson and walked along the boardwalk to the beach from there. It was so gorgeous, palm trees, fountains, parrots, little tiki huts selling things… it was like paradise! We stole some lounge chairs and enjoyed the beach for a few hours before heading back to Oranjestad.

Oranjestad has a bustling city center with all sorts of fancy shops like Gucci and Armani. We did some window shopping and hung out in the mall to write more postcards. Interestingly, the mall has a channel which you can drive your boat into.

We started to make our way back to the ship and stopped at a little bar which was painted with cow spots on the outside. It also had a dinosaur on the top of it and some funny dutch people cutouts. We tried a bottle of the local beer “Balashi” and looked at all of the polaroid pictures stuck to the walls. It was time to board the ship but we made one last stop at a booth selling coconuts. The man was very talkative and took our picture. He also gave us an older, dried coconut and poured coconut flavoring on it for us to take with us.

By the time we got back to the ship we were late, and I think we were the last people on. Woops! There were a few others who arrived just before us and they were coming back from an excursion so the ship was waiting for them. I guess there are worse places to be stranded than on a beautiful, tropical island but I’m glad they didn’t leave without us!

It was a formal night on the ship that night and our server Alvin surprised Ryan with a birthday cake. All of the waiters gathered around our table to sing happy birthday to him. After dinner we stopped by the concierge desk to say hi to Andy and watch the captain pour the champagne fountain. We topped off the night with the crew talent show, which was not half bad! My favorite act was a Filipino man who sang Sex Bomb, complete with hip thrusts.

Back to Puerto Rico!

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