Sunday, January 10, 2016

Aruba: Driving Coast to Coast

Day 2

I was so tired last night that fter my healthy dinner of a bag of chips at the grocery store, I crashed pretty early.  And didn't wake up until 7:30am.

Wanting to get the vacation off on the right foot, I tried to do a little circuit workout in the kitchen with gliders and a band.  I did alright, it's just so hard to get motivated on your own!  I need my Sweat girls!!  I went for a jog after that...and made it all of a mile before I thought I was going to die. 1. I'm out of shape. And 2. It's HOT here, even early in the morning!

This is the street the apartment is on.  There is a school right behind me (from where I took the picture) and the apartment is up on the left, right by tan rental car.

This is the view from the gate:

The wooden fence on the left separates the owners big house from the two smaller apartments they rent out.

This is the view from the front door, looking out to the street:

There is a picnic table, a drying rack, and a bbq.  Pretty nice set up! ^^

After breakfast and a shower, it was time to get out and explore Aruba.  I read about how the wind always blows on this island, and man is that ever true.  My hair will not be down much while I'm here.  It blows all.the.time here!


Speaking of "Americanized" yesterday, here is the proof: KFC, Dominos PIzza, and Wendy's...all on one corner!

The plan was to drive all the way around the eastern side of the island.  All the tourist stuff is on the western shore, but I wanted to see the eastern more rugged and rocky side.  Just couldn't get over that way for stopping so many times on the western shore at all the beautiful beaches!

I mean, is this picture paradise or what?

Classic Aruban picture:  cacti and the ocean

And just a little further down the road, a tidal pool that also required a pit stop:

That's about as far in the water as I'm comfortable with.  Below the knees is just fine for me.

Side note: I'm really hoping that during all my time down here in the Caribbean over the next couple of months, I will acquire a love for the water.  Because right now, I don't especially like getting in it.  It's cold and I hate being cold.  I'm always cold.  I don't like to put my head under water.  Heck I don't even like to get my hair wet.  I don't even like showers for that reason!  So the Caribbean will be a growing experience for me.   Hopefully.  I just want to like getting in the water by the end of my time here. We'll see.  Day 1 was a start.  I got in for all of 2 minutes. ;)

Anyways, just past the lighthouse (where we were for sunset last night) the paved road stops.  Then there is this dirt road that from the looks of google maps, went almost all the way around the entire island.  That's where I wanted to go.  

Sure it was just a crappy little rental car, and everything said you needed 4 wheel drive...but you know how the saying goes:  Don't be gentle, it's a rental!  (Isn't that a saying?) ;)

Right before the turn off, I spotted this:  
(A bus full of large Americans with cameras hanging out the window.  Made me laugh!)

The road started out fine.  Just sand for the most part, a few rocks here and there.  But completely barren!  Such a different view from the white sand and turquoise water on the western shore!

The car couldn't make it over to the beach, so walking had to suffice to see what the water was like over there.  

Today was a fashion over function kind of day in the shoe department.  I wasn't really planning on hiking much, and I might as well have been barefoot with these cheap sandals on.  Poor choice.

There was so much dead coral washed up on shore!  Picked up my first souvenir.  My mom said she wanted a seashell from each beach I went to.  Coral will have to do for Aruba.  It's all there was!


Not much to look at on the eastern side of Aruba.  The water is super rough, as the wind comes in from the east.  You couldn't pay me enough money to jump in that water with the strong waves crashing in!

Not far down the road, there were cairns everywhere.  And I don't mean like a few.  I'm talking hundreds of them.  All over everything!  I need to google it and see what they are for or why they are there...  People have spent some serious time building all of those!



The uneventful drive continued down an uneventful road:

There were a few spots that had nice beaches that required a quick picture stop, but all in all, the east coast was just not that interesting.  Which is fine!  I still wanted to see it!

The water was still crystal clear.  (And cold.)

There weren't any other cars all the way out there.  I don't really see why.  The road wasn't that bad.  But every know and then, you would hear the roar and then see a big motorcade of tourists in jeeps come rolling through.  This caravan had TWENTY in a row!  If eating dust sounds fun, then this tour is for you!

This was probably the coolest thing on the north-eastern shore, and I don't even know where exactly it was or what it was called.  Just a natural bridge in the middle of nowhere.

As the towns got closer, so did the tourists.  We saw an old church, and then this old fort.  Neither of which I wanted to stop at.  If there is a tour bus there, it's going to be a tough sell to get me out.  

I did very briefly get out at the actual "Natural Bridge" site, that was full of tour buses.  I spent all of 30 seconds there, and realized the one down the road (where the buses can't get to) was waaaaayyy better than this one.

Being surrounded by tourists is just not my idea of fun.  So that was a really quick stop before heading back in to town for lunch.

Spotted this sign on the side of a liquor store and definitely had to do a U-turn for the picture:

Lunch was steamed veggies and a box of Quinoa.  $70 worth of groceries should last until Wednesday.  Food is like $30/plate here at the restaurants!  No, thank you!  I'll pay a little extra for an apartment with a kitchen any day. (Now if they just had a blender for my fruit smoothie, too!)

I'm certainly not vegan and not even really vegetarian, but I don't especially care for meat and try to limit it as much as possible.  That's so hard when traveling, especially in a place like this where everything Caribbean is chicken!  I've done good so far.  No meat!

After a nap (I've been so tired lately!), the plan was to see the other half of the island -- the southern and southeastern sides.

There really are just a couple of main highways to get you around in Aruba.  And they are all little two lane roads, so it takes time to get around.  And traffic can be bad!

In fact, there was an accident on the highway we were on, and there was some sort of street concert or something blocking it.  It took FOR.EVER. to figure out a way around all of that.  Definitely ended up on some residential dirt roads and got some looks from locals.  "Yes, I'm a tourist and yes, I'm lost" might as well been the bumper sticker. 

I wanted to see Grapefield Beach, Boca Grandi, Bachelor's Beach, Baby Beach, and Rodger's Beach, all before sunset.

Just past Grapefield Beach, there were all of these buildings down on the shore that got my curiosity going. ;)

They turned out to be not that interesting.  Maybe just some temporary shelters people build?  Maybe for fishing or something?  I don't know, they were deserted and empty.  Weird.


I don't remember if this was on the drive to Boca Grandi or Bachelor's Beach, but the point is, the rental car was crushing the "4 wheel drive" roads...

Well, kind of.  Until deep sand came.  And then it stopped. ;)

I thought this was somebody's house!  Turned out to be a sea turtle nesting spot.


Bachelor's Beach:

That was it for the eastern shore.  The next two beaches I wanted to see were on the southwestern side of the island.  But along the way, I saw what looked like a road to Seroe Colorado Lighthouse.  Still had time until sunset, so why not.  Let's check it out.

Well, the "roads" on google maps can be deceiving.  Made it about 100 feet down this one before it was clear the rental wasn't cutting it.  So back to the highway.  No big deal, another lighthouse wasn't that high on the list anyways.

(The road was way worse than it looks here!)
Drove by Rodger's Beach and decided it was too close to the giant Valero oil refinery.  So Baby's Beach was it.  The last stop for the day.

(The blue dot at the very bottom of the island was my location. Really hope I'm not getting charged for using a GPS signal on my phone!  Data an cellular are turned I can't be, right?)

There was a restaurant there at the beach, Big Mama's Cafe, and lots of locals.  It wasn't a tourist spot at all -- or at least it didn't come across that way.

The beach looks nice until you back up a little...and then there is a huge oil refinery right there.  Ugh.

There was still too much time to kill before sunset for me to just sit there.  I don't "sit" very well, and I didn't want to get in and get wet this late.  (Remember that part about me not liking to be wet and cold?)

There appeared to be some white sand down the road a ways, and some rocks...and a little walk to kill some time sounded good after so much car time today.

I found a flat rock to sit on out in an inlet, and made a quick video for Hadley and Hudson of some crabs and fish there.   We were at the pet store in KC last week and saw some, so I thought they might enjoy seeing some in the wild.  I guess Hudson said "Hi Terri!" every time he watched the video when I said "HI Hudson" and waved.  Too cute. :)

So cheesy, but the lighting was oh-so-good for picture taking:

I showed my dedication in picture taking by holding my phone in my hand for at least ten minutes while I tried to take a time-lapse video of the sun going down.  It took patience...which is something I don't have much of.  

The video turn out okay.  It's on YouTube, but here is a screenshot from it.

As soon as the sun went down, it got cold!  I feel bad even saying "cold" because I know what the temperature is back in KC (below freezing!), but I was a little chilly in the breeze, so it was right back to the car and back to the apartment for some food.

I was past the hungry stage on the drive, and contemplated pulling in to numerous grocery stores.  Almost all of which are Chinese!  It's weird - I haven't seen much of an Asian population, but there are tons of Asian grocery stores! Anyways, traffic was horrendous, stop and go, and it took forever to get all the way back up north.  Maybe it was typical Sunday night traffic or maybe it was from that street closing concert...who knows.  There were two big cruise ships docked this morning, so maybe it was time for all the tourists to head back that way, too?

But in the end, grocery store veggie soup and chips and salsa won out for dinner.  

1 comment:

  1. Aruba has a large Asian population. Most of the grocery stores, with the exception of a few, are Asian owned.