Saturday, January 9, 2016

Aruba: California Lighthouse

Day 1

I left off with the last post when I landed in Aruba on Saturday afternoon...

Oranjastead's airport is small, but clean and efficient.  Got right out of there.  We had a little issue finding the small apartment I rented on Airbnb.  It's in Noord, on the north part of the island and is in a residential area.  Also, there are not street signs in Aruba.  I mean directions are like, "turn left at the red shipping container, then left again past the school, right at the sign for Coconut Inn..."  No joke.  It's nuts!  

The blue dot is the location of the apartment.

Anyways, we found it, and the owner was there waiting.  The apartment is super nice, and so is the owner.  So nice, in fact, that when I said I wanted to go to the California Lighthouse for sunset,  he said, "Sure!  Hop in and follow me!" (And tossed me a GPS system to use for the trip, too!) He got his two kids, Sam (5) and Tiana (2) in the car and off we went down the pot-holed roads to the end of the island -- which took all of 10 minutes to get to.  Aruba is a small island!

The lighthouse was a disappointment.  It was under construction, so not quite the picturesque view I was going for. ;)

And I didn't especially love the sunset view from there either, but at least I can check it off the list of things I want to see in Aruba now.  

Sam and Tiana, the apartment owners two kids

We tried to catch the sun actually slipping below the horizon as we drove down to the beach, but just barely missed it.  Honestly, it went from up to gone in like two minutes, I swear!

I did get a shot of this nice sign though. :)

So my first impression just from the short time driving around the northern part of the island was that Aruba is pretty 'Americanized.'  I mean there was McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Hooters...all the same chains.  It was much more run down than I expected, outside of the tourist areas.  I guess I thought Aruba would be super fancy, but really, just the strip of resorts are (I'm assuming), and the rest is a lot like any other under developed country.  Reminds me of Cancun, actually.  

Anyways, first things first.  FOOD.  I knew eating out for every meal wasn't going to be an option.  I'm unemployed, remember?  And the Caribbean is not cheap.  So off to the supermarket it was.  The apartment has a nice kitchen with an oven and stove and microwave and mini-fridge...perfect for making whatever.  Also, checking out the grocery story in a new country is always fun.  I don't know why, but I always like to go and see where the locals shop and what they eat.

Well, it wasn't quite a locals kind of place, but the Super Food Plaza was amazing!  It was huge and nice...and BUSY.  There was a line to get in to it and hardly any parking spots!

Loaded up on veggies and eggs and quonia, oatmeal and bread and jam, some fruit... But no bananas!?  Come on!

Also, I'm sorry but who can afford peanut butter in this place!?  Not me!

I got hungry walking around shopping.  Actually, I was hungry before I even went inside, which was bad news.  I grabbed a bag of chips off the shelf and ripped them right open.  And by the time the basket was loaded with groceries and I waited in the long line to check out...the bag of chips was empty.  Oops.

So dinner was chips and a glass of water with an '8 Greens' tablet in it.  (I read about them before I left and had them overnighted to my house so I could at least pretend to eat some greens while I'm gone.)

Here are a few pics of the apartment:

This is the kitchen, right inside the front door:

The bathroom just down the hall:

And the bedroom at the end of the hall (with a flat screen tv not shown):

It's small and pretty basic in US terms, but honestly, it's probably one of the nicer places I've stayed when I've traveled!  It's clean and has AC and good wifi...can't complain one bit.  Very happy with it!

Oh, one last thing before I go to bed...after my few short hours here, I think I'll keep my flight to Bonaire on Wednesday.  (The one I had to book at the airport yesterday.)  I'm pretty sure I can see enough of Aruba in three full days.  It's such a small island and a little more "touristy" than I like.  I think maybe people come here for the nightlife and casinos (as well as the beaches, of course) and that's not really my style.  Maybe that will change after I get out and explore more tomorrow.  But for now -- Bonaire on Wednesday morning it is.

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