I'll admit, I'm one of those people who talks a whole lot about traveling for someone who never goes anywhere. I love the idea of traveling but you know how life is: planning things sucks, work takes over, the money is never there, the couch is always there, the traveling never happens.
So when my boyfriend got the call from his dad inviting us to go to Aruba with some family, I proceeded to embarrassingly and disbelief-ingly(?) squeak out "ARUBA?" for about five minutes before spiraling down a rabbit hole of Aruba research for the next two months.
This place was just incredible. Before coming here, I had never been outside of the east coast of the US, never been on a plane for vacation since I was 12, never seen a cactus taller than ten inches and never been snorkeling or parasailing. In just four days, I experienced so many firsts and with Aruba being so vastly different from anything I'd ever experienced, it felt like a complete other planet. The earth is amazing.
Day 1: ARRIVAL DAY
After staying up all night on McDonalds and Monster like the healthy people we are, Matt and I zombie-walked onto our plane just as the sun was rising. At this point, I was dead tired, and when I saw the miles and miles of clouds falling underneath us, illuminated by the rising sun, I decided it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and almost shed some tears. I'm such a girl.
As soon as we got to the hotel, I crashed due to the exhaustion and took a nap. About five minutes later I got up due to the excitement and took a walk down Palm beach. I made a lot of dumb decisions during this vacation.
Day 2: SNORKELING DAY.
The day I wished I had an underwater home for my camera. Do you know how much underwater camera homes are? About $2000. I had to skip out on that.
The first stop was a shipwreck called the Antilla. This is where I made another one of my bad decisions. I decided instead of floating around enjoying the fish, I had to touch the ship or I would regret everything for the rest of my life. Before that day, the farthest I've ever gone underwater was 8 feet in my aunt's pool and even that was uncomfortable. Armed with flippers and a huge deep breath, I dove around 30 feet and touched the closest, barnacle-covered part of the ship and shot back to the top. And that's when my ear popped and I felt the left side of my face erupt in pain. And that, kids, is how you get a killer ear infection that requires three different prescriptions. I am not a smart person.
The next stop was a beach called Boca Calatina. Lots of fish, lots of reefs, lots of alcohol. Seriously, it was a blast. (We went with Delphi Watersports and got a free T-shirt.)
Instead of trying to get the water out of my ear in order to avoid the impending ear infection, I did this. About 5 times. Oh and there was also a waterslide. And a pirate ship.
Day 3: SUNRISE TOUR
We woke up bright and early...Okay. GRUMPY AND EARLY at 5:00am to be whisked off by a very-much-a-morning-person-tour-guide and put on ATVs to explore around the rugged, untourist-y part of the island. It was indescribably amazing. It's hard to decide what my favorite part of this week was but if I had to choose, it might've been this.
We started off with the natural pool. This was hardcore and would most likely never be allowed in the US. High tide, huge amounts of water sloshing around, and despite getting cut up on almost every part of my body, had a blast swimming around in it.
The next stop was literally staircase into a hole in the ground connected to the ocean. The waves pushed in all kinds of trash, driftwood, and a ton of unappetizing-looking coconuts.
For some reason, this was my favorite stop of the trip. The sun felt awesome, the views were just unreal, everything just felt perfect.
Matt and I being your typical American tourists.
Driving these things was half the fun. Also I was not expecting that many cactus.
We followed the tour guide to a small stream with dead-skin-eating fish. We were told that years ago, a Chinese guy moved to Aruba with these fish, set up a whole environment for them, and they thrived. The guy moved away but left the fish, leaving them to give nice foot massages to people less ticklish than I am. I couldn't stand it for longer than ten seconds before grabbing Matt's arm and squealing like I was giving birth. I'm a wuss. :(
I'm a sucker for animals and how they live in their environment. There were tons of goats. All of them owned. They wander around the entire island during the day and somehow find their way back home at the end of the day. These guys have a sense of direction I could only dream of.
We were taken on a tour through this cave. I wish we had spent more time here. There were some cave drawings dated back to 900 years ago, graffiti on the ceiling from explorers in 1816, tons of bats, and a tour guide whose voice could lull a thousand screaming babies to sleep.
Final stop was this very secluded beach. This is where you go to get the best sunburn.
The water was unreal. As was the sunset on Palm beach when we got back to our hotel.
Day 3: FREE DAY
I wish we could've had more days like this day. Hanging around the pool iguana hunting, eating Belgian waffles in the morning and the freshest seafood of my life for dinner, getting girly fruity drinks at the swim-up bar, heading out on a boat to parasail, and just soaking in as much as we could without being on any kind of schedule. I'm the type who wants to plan out excursions and adventures, but when I have days like this, I can't get enough.
The guys at Pair-A-Dice Watersports not only took us on the ride of our life, but were also the first people to capture Matt fully smiling since he was born. I give them 5 out of 5 stars.
Later that night, we took a taxi to Hooiberg, a volcanic mountain in the middle of the island. We almost didn't make it due to my American accent saying the word "Hooiberg". Poor taxi driver, having to hear me butcher that one to death repeatedly.
562 steps to the top and so worth it, especially with this guy.
Day 4: we went home. it was heartbreaking.