Monday, January 11, 2016

Aruba: Arikok National Park

Day 3

I'm enjoying sleeping in, but really missing my workout classes back home.  No workout this morning.  But oatmeal with blueberries and an "8 Greens" glass of water for breakfast had me feeling okay about that I guess.  At least I'm eating healthy if I'm not working out!

Today's plan was to see Arikok National Park.  More specifically, I wanted to see the Conchi Natural Pool and jump off a cliff in to the ocean (I saw a picture of it), so that was up first. 

It wasn't too far of a drive to the main Visitor Center, where you had to pay $11 to enter the actual park.  


My original idea was to do a couple of hikes out there, but as soon as I saw it, that was out the window.  Hot and windy, hiking new to cacti in the blazing sun just didn't sound fun.  So scratch that. 

Plan B, try to sneak in to the park on a smaller different road I found on Google maps.  (Yeah, I'm that cheap, and it looked like it got much closer to the natural pool.)

Looks like we'd  be putting the old rental to the test again. 

I was feeling pretty loud of myself, laughing and thinking ha!  I found a sneaky way in on this dirt road!

And then...another "visitor center" - or really a guy in a hut blocking the road.

Dang it!

There was one other road that looked like it might go in to the park, too, but I was over it by that point.  $11 wasn't that bad to see a National Park I guess.

The bright orange "Enter at Your Own Risk" bracelet had me wondering what was ahead...

The guy said the drive would be okay about half way, but that the car should be parked at "the top of the hill."

This was the "road" through the park:

The little Kia did just fine (for the mot part) up to the hill, and then the rocks were just too much.  Too many and too pointy to risk popping a tire up there in the middle of nowhere.  

It was just supposed to be another 15 minute hike or so down, and I upgraded my sandals today to function over fashion with my Tevas.

The hike was longer than 15 minutes...and wow. It was HOT, even with a breeze!

Numerous jeeps and quads passed us, but we made it down to the same spot they did, and for way less money!

It was much more "well known" than I expected.  It wasn't in my guide book, so I didn't think it would be that touristy.  But there were plenty of people already there.

I was wearing my gray K-State tank top, and wouldn't you know it, as soon as I walk up, I ear someone yell, "Rock Chalk!"  (If you're not from Kansas, that is the chant for KU, the rival of K-State.)  

A young couple from Overland Park was down there.  Such a small world sometimes!

I really wasn't too interested in staying at the Conchi very long.  With no snorkeling gear, lost of tourists, and no place to jump off the cliffs, my excitement faded.

BUT - $11 was too much money to just turn around and walk back out of the park.  There had to be some other beaches or something worthwhile nearby.

And man was there ever:

Dos Playa was just another 15 minute (scorching) walk further.  The average tourist wouldn't walk that, and the buses and jeeps couldn't make it there.

Only one set of footprints in the sand here, and those were mine!

It was such a cool spot.  A giant rock was in the middle, so there were two beaches.  The water came crashing around the rock on each side, and there was a plateau of sorts to the left and right.  

Found a jagged rock to hang my bag in the shade, and decided it was the perfect spot to set up shop for a bit.

So when you have a beach to yourself, it's totally acceptable to not wear a bikini, right?  I mean, who wants tan lines? ;)

I'm still working on figuring out the GoPro, and after almost losing it to a wave when I had it in the sand, I eventually got this picture using the app on my phone and the camera behind me.  

I've never been topless on a beach before, but hey, there's a first time for everything, right?

I had sunscreen on my face and upper body, but for some reason decided my legs didn't need it?  So after an hour or so, I could already feel the burn coming.

My rash guard top with sleeves went on to try and minimize the damage, but it was already too late. 

And to top it off, we still had to hike back up to the car, in the now hottest part of the day.

I'd never been so happy to see a car in all my life.  I was out of water (it spilled in my bag on the way down), it was hot, and I was burnt.

I mean seriously, who wants to go hike in that National Park when it's almost 90 degrees out?  Not me.

Here's a little view of the way back down.  Not exactly the best road around...

Back in town, more proof of the un-escapable Americanization:  Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins.

Late lunch was more of the same:  rice and quoin and beans and veggies.  And delicious. 

With a few hours left before sunset, there were a couple of nearby beaches still on the list to check out.  One, Arashi, was supposed to be one of the best to snorkel on.

On the map, it looked like Arashi was at the very northern tip of the island, straight out from the lighthouse.

But when we got there, there was no beach, and you'd have to be crazy to jump in and snorkel in that rough water!  That couldn't be right!

So back down the dirt roads...


...around the tip of the island and back to the calmer western shore, there was Arashi Beach!

With the perfect spot in the shade for me.  (My body had had enough sun for one day.)  And right there is where I stayed until the sun went down.  Well, for the most part.  I waded in to the water a couple of times, but not above my knees!

I did another time-lapse video on my phone, but set it down on the table this time.  It eventually fell over so I had to trim it down, but it still looks cool!

Back at the apartment, I surveyed the damage done to my body. Apparently I didn't have that top off long enough because there are still tan lines!


It looks way worse than it is.  I always turn really red initially, but either way, SPF 30 apparently isn't enough for all day in Aruba.  And note to self:  don't skip the legs.

I think I might just stay out of the sun completely tomorrow...

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