I’ll wrap up this journal of our travels in Aruba.
We had decided to go on a Land Rover excursion to the “Natural Pool” and some other sights. The man who booked our tickets for us assured me that there was a restroom we could use to change and “go” before getting into the pool. We packed up a light beach bag, slathered on the sunscreen, and were ready for our 7:00 a.m. pickup the next day.
All told, there were eight Rover vehicles in our tour. The tour guides and drivers were dead-pan funny. The first rule, they advised us, was to make lots of noise and screaming when we saw rival tour companies, “so they would think we’re having a really good time.” Jim and I took the seats in the back of the Rover and after we were settled in, were advised that those were the bumpiest seats on what was going to be a very bumpy tour. “This is not going to be a nice, smooth, bus tour,” Steven (our guide) said. Oh, my. Too late to switch – the other seats were occupied.
We jounced and bounced, careened and jostled, all the way up the side of a distant “mountain”. It was a long trip. Along the way, we spied various other tours, and we screamed and waved accordingly. Our driver obliged by honking his horn repeatedly. We arrived at the Natural Pool and I told Jim I was glad there was a restroom, because all the bouncing around was taking its toll on my bladder. The driver overheard me and laughed, and told me to find a good rock.
Oh. The restrooms were three stops away. Curses!
I did find two good rocks with a narrow passage between, and switched out of my clothes and into my suit, and took care of business while protecting my modesty. We were promised snorkeling, but the water was very choppy and we opted instead just to go in. We were issued life jackets, and we slipped across the rocks and into the water. Let me be clear that Jim is NOT a water guy. The look on his face being issued the life jacket was priceless. Jim doesn’t like to get wet. But he had a blast nonetheless.
This is a picture of the approach to the pool. I didn’t want to risk losing my phone inside the actual swimming area. You can see how rough the water was against the rocks and there was a decent undertow as well:
We visited many more sights, like the ruins of a gold mine:
And the California Lighthouse (named after the ship that sunk there):
(Those yellow Land Rovers are what we were riding in.)
We made a couple of more stops, as well. Thankfully, we always wore our seatbelts, because we went airborne a couple of times (I thought the seatbelt was going to cut me in two at one point). The bouncier it was, the more everybody screamed – although I am not sure it was because they were trying to make the other tours jealous! There were some pretty frightening moments. But it was GREAT. We got back to the hotel covered in fine dust and grit. When I took my contacts out and cleaned them, it looked like champagne popping. The peroxide solution spewed out all over the sink! We were filthy.
I do want to point out just for a quick second that, had I not changed to the anti-inflammatory diet (which I mostly tried to stick to) and lost some weight, there would have been no way that I could have done ANY of these things, like walking up and down the rock stairs, swimming, and enduring the bouncy Rover trip – because I would have been in too much pain.
The rest of our Aruba trip was spent sightseeing, and doing other touristy things. We had a fun time, and as I mentioned, all the people were very nice and friendly. They obviously love their country, and went out of their way to ask how our trip was going and if we were having a good time. One cabdriver told me, “We try our best,” and I think that sums it up nicely.
Looming over our heads was the long trip home. I didn’t sleep the night before we left. I was so worried about the connecting flights. I was right to be concerned. This is when we discovered that there is no TSA pre-check coming back, and had to go through the Security checkpoints and Customs. That wasn’t too bad, but at 11:35 a.m. we found out our flight had been delayed until 4:15 p.m. We were trapped in the little airport. We approached the counter and begged the woman there to put us on another flight home. She explained that, in Aruba, you have to stay with your luggage. They legally could not keep our bags and send us off early. So we had to stay.
Naturally, this meant that the hour and a half layover in Newark, NJ was going to be whittled down to mere minutes. “How are they going to get our luggage together in 15 minutes?” I fretted, when we were finally on the plane. Jim assured me it would be fine. I spent the next five (5)! hours trying not to be claustrophobic. We had been assigned the very last seats in the last row. Jim started to feel a panic attack coming on, and I coached him through some “yoga breathing” until he started to feel better.
When we landed in NJ, most of the passengers complied with the instructions to let the people with connecting flights off the airplane first. “These are some of the tightest connections,” the flight attendant advised over the PA system. We hit the terminal and ran.
We got to our gate as the last person in our boarding group was getting their pass scanned. We hopped onto the plane with scant minutes to spare.
The ride home was turbulent and we had a rough landing. (This seemed, however, like “no big deal” after that Land Rover experience!) Belched out into O’Hare Airport, we streamed to the baggage claim area, only to be told that our suitcases were still in Jersey. (We did receive them the next day). It was, of course, cold and rainy in Chicago. In fact, it hasn’t stopped raining since we’ve come home.
Exhausted, we drove home. It was hard to sit in the car. We made it through the front door at 1:30 a.m. Sleepily, Maggie trotted downstairs to greet us. She was overjoyed to see us and we, her. I checked on the sleeping Jamie and then went to bed. The next day was Saturday, and we had to be up at 5:30 a.m. to get Jamie off to the Midwest National Robotics Competition.
It was going to be a short night.
I hope you enjoyed the tale of our travels to Aruba. I’ll be turning the blog back over to Maggie.
Thanks for reading!