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Things I learned on vacation in Aruba

Nelly B., WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN???

That's a good question, outside of Facebook and IG, I have been low key on the blogging/vlogging. Partly due to illness (yes, I get sick often), somewhat due to laziness (well, more like extreme fatigue), but majority due to the lack of time since most of my day is spent either in the office or getting to or from it. So with all that in mind, you know that yours truly was over the moon about going on vacation; and for me, vacation equals getting out the country for a few days. Sooooooooooo...

I spent 6 glorious days in the beautiful island of Aruba, opting to stay with my friends Jurina and Candred Lanoy instead of a hotel and I am sure happy that I did. I experienced so much in my short time there and at the end of my trip, I had learnt so much! Not just about Aruba, but also about myself. Here's a list of the random and not so random things that I learned/experienced on my way to, during and on my way back from Aruba. Do note that this list is in no specific order.

Took this pic on my flight from Aruba
back to Curacao
I like to travel alone. Although I was staying with the Lanoy family, I was flying alone. I know some persons aren't too keen on the crossing oceans solo, but I really do enjoy it. I get time to think, sleep, reflect, harass other passengers, you know... stuff like that lol.

We all have a life story. while en route to and from Aruba, I met a wonderful Trini family who were going to Curacao on vacation, some Dutch women heading back to Aruba to visit family, a Canadian guy who was heading back to Canada, some lovely Dutch ladies studying nursing in Curacao, an older Aruban gentlemen who told me about his visits to Trinidad and a young Surinamese hairdresser who was coming to Trinidad to take part in a conference. We may cross people along the way and judge others without knowing their story. The conversations I had were wonderful. Maybe somewhere down the road our paths may cross again.

Insel Air plane, I was about to board to leave Aruba
Research where you're going; and I don't just mean the tourist attractions. Things like foreign exchange, do you have to pay departure tax, what you can and cannot bring into the country. Things like this can make the travel aspect a bit easier.Web Check in before your flight. If you bought your ticket directly from the airline like I did from Insel Air, and you have a seating preference (for eg. I only do window seats), then web checking in is to way to go to ensure you get the seat you want. A good tip I got from a friend of mine was to book my coming and my going separately when flying with Insel Air. It's cheaper that way.
UPDATE: I found out today that Insel Air no longer flies out of Trinidad, the other alternative would have to be Suriname Airways. 

The bus that shuttled us between the plane and terminal
Trinidad and Tobago has a very intense immigration form. The form I filled out to enter Aruba isn't even half as long as the form I had to fill out when flying back into Trinidad. In Aruba and Curacao, buses transport you from the terminal to the plane. I was honestly surprised by this, considering that the distance isn't that far. Customer service for the win I guess.

NEVER travel to Aruba in a flowy short dress or skirt. The island is extremely breezy. Need I say more? I learned this the breezy way lol.

Always find out if there are roaming packages with your mobile provider. Since Digicel is my smartphone provider, I did some research and found out about their 7 day Caribbean roaming passport which gave me unlimited incoming calls, unlimited calls back to Trinidad no matter the network, unlimited SMS to Digicel Caribbean Numbers and in certain countries, unlimited data access when you roam in our Digicel Caribbean territories. Lucky for me, Aruba has Digicel, so this plan worked out perfectly.

If staying with friends in Aruba as their guest... do not.. and I mean... DO NOT do anything remotely similar to housework unless asked.. I got scolded for doing the dishes, lol.

Driving on the other side of the road threw off my navigation skills. Usually I am very geographically inclined and I am able to move around easily in a country. This however was proven wrong in Aruba. Whereas in Trinidad we drive on the left, they drive on the right, so all their cars are left hand drive. For some reason, this confused me enough that I had no idea how to get to where I was going. Good thing I didn't have to drive.

If I took a shot of vodka for every roundabout I saw in Aruba, I'd be in the hospital with alcohol poisoning lol. Aruba has A LOT of roundabouts. There were so many in fact that my friends laughed at my complete shock when I saw a traffic light lol. Not once did we use the air condition while we were driving. The breeze is real!!!

Aqua jet massage... sooooo good
Clifford Faldman of Clinica QuiropracticoVan Putten (Van Putten Chiropractic Clinic) is hands down one of the best chiropractors on the island, I got my spine aligned, an awesome neck massage and some time on the aqua jets massage machine thingy. Let me tell you. I feel amazing!!! Don't worry, nothing bad happened to me, I was simply in the right place at the right time.

The support that Arubans show for their pro football league is amazing!!! Jurina's younger brother Darwin plays for SV Dakota and for their game versus Nacional, their supporters came out like if the Aruban national football team was playing in the World Cup final. I'm talking black and yellow everywhere, rhythm section, DJ, you name it. SV Dakota came out on top 4-0. I couldn't help but compare it to the underwhelming support that our pro league gets here. Makes me wonder what else can be done to draw crowds in, will look into this further.

Chillin' with Jurina before the game started
Baseball is big in Aruba.. I mentioned cricket and they looked at me like I grew a second head lol.

1 Aruban florin (written as afl 1.00) is $3.70TTD, however it is best to travel with USD because you won't get florin here, and you can pretty much use USD anywhere on the island. Aruba is small. From one end of the island to the other took us less than an hour. In all, Aruba is about 179 square km. To put that into perspective, Tobago is 300 square km.

Everything was sooooooo good!!!!!!
The food in Aruba is so good. It is a fusion of not only Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, but also of Colombia and Venezuela. I ate things like Jambo (an ochro soup) with Funchi (cornmeal) on side, Pan de bono, Bunuelo, and Papa Rellena, I also had the best pizza of my life at a place called Urataka.

Balashi beer is vibes!!! I am by no means a beer drinker, but out of curiosity I had to taste their locally made beer. It is a little lighter than a Carib and very refreshing.I also had to try their KFC. Though not as seasoned as ours, it was actually pretty decent. It currently ranks 3rd on my list of favourite KFC tastes in the Caribbean thus far. Sorry Dominica, you've been demoted to 4th place, Grenada holds a firm and close 2nd place and of course, T&T is number one. It could be my bias, or it could just be that ours tastes best.

Aruban Chinese food places do not offer noodles on their menu. I was crushed by this. But the Chinese wasn't bad either, so I managed.

The BEST pizza I have ever had.... EVER!!!!!!
Do not... I repeat... DO NOT drink the bottled water from Venezuela... sorry but it tasted awful.

There are Tiida wetmen everywhere, even in Aruba.. lol!!! Courts is also everywhere. Though in Aruba, the Unicomer company goes by AMC Unicon.

There are no bad roads in Aruba, BUT!! There are lots of dirt roads. Quite a few times I was at a loss as to why Jurina or Candred suddenly went off route, only to realise that we were on a dirt road. There were also some cobbled stone roads as well.

When it comes to vehicles in Aruba... bigger seems to be better. Vehicles seemed to be super sized on the island.

Fried rice, fries, wantons, boneless chinese chicken
I need to learn more languages. The official languages of Aruba are Dutch and Papiamento, but you will surely hear more Papiamento than Dutch. Papiamento is a Creole language containing elements of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, as well as Arawakan and African languages. Phonetically, it sounds very similar to Portuguese, and my goodness Arubans speak fast!! I could even say that they speak faster than us Trinis. My little understanding of Papiamento was put to the test and I found myself saying "slow down" a few times lol.

Of all the beautiful Aruban/Curacao songs that filled my ears for my entire stay.. what song gets stuck in my head? Donkey Kong by DJ Iski out of Curacao. Why am I annoyed at this? Because, it is essentially one of those songs that lacks real lyrical content but is catchy as heck... *cough* "Champion" * cough*

Jurina's husband Candred and her brother Darwin
Aruban men are good looking... Especially to the Trini ladies. Case in point the reactions I received from posting pics of Candred and Darwin. Sorry ladies, Candred is happily married and Darwin isn't legal, at least not till August 30th lol (if this blog post comes out after Darwin's birthday, then by all means, go for it, but be warned, his mom will not be too happy, Love you Ludwina!!!!).

If you're Catholic, then Mass in Aruba is one of the most beautiful things you will ever experience. I was fortunate to be present for the Prosecion (procession) of the Sacred Heart which was followed by Mass and adoration at the Pro Cathedral San Francisco di Asis. The choir which was a collaboration of different choirs and groups in Santa Cruz was amazing. I love their style of worship music though I can't understand most of it, Luckily, I got the translations lol. The wonderful thing about the Catholic Mass is that despite the language barrier, I was able to follow the Mass completely. Except, the homily, solely because the priest celebrating the Mass is Polish, and if you think understanding Papaimento was tricky enough, try hearing it with a Polish accent lol. Nonetheless, that was definitely a highlight of my stay.

An evening spent in Mass, worship and prayer
If GIG (God's Inspired Group) is ever performing at a concert when you're in Aruba, GO! Their style of gospel is so upbeat and inviting. I was fortunate to hear them practice and let me tell you, they take ministry to a whole new level. Music on a whole was so refreshing and different. Though I did get some English pop songs here and there, the majority of the music on air is local or from one of the other Dutch islands. Bands like Buleria make their rounds through all the Dutch islands to play. I got a taste of them after the SV Dakota game and I'd surely love to hear their full set. If only we could play more local music year round.

Me with Ghislaine and Jurina
Arubans love soca!! I found myself in a soca party during my stay and it was vibes!! What I loved most about it is that the Arubans embrace soca from all islands, so at several points during the night I had to ask what countries certain songs originated from.According to my mother, I learned 'curse bad words' in Aruba, and I know exactly how to use them, and spell them lol. But alas, I will behave.

Mangel Halto beach vs right in front
the Lanoy home 
No beach is too far... NONE!!!!!!! And the beaches are beautifullllllll!!!! But to contrast the fact that it is an island, there is no rain, NONE!!! Caribbean desert life is real in Aruba. 

Girl time is always needed. Jurina and I spent one afternoon cleaning our make up brushes and having a good ole girly chat. 

I miss you Jury!!!!
Friendships can span over distance and decades. I met Jurina and Candred when they visited Trinidad back in 2005. And we stayed in touch ever since. The sheer fact that despite not seeing each other in so long and they were more then willing to not only be my tour guide but to welcome me into their home and family, made me cry like an idiot when I walked out of the airport in Aruba.

This trip may have been my first to Aruba, but it definitely won't be my last. I feel as though I left a part of myself in Aruba. I haven't quite felt the same since I came back. I do hope that I can go again in the near future.. and if not near.. well.. there's always my honeymoon.

PS: DAKOTA TUR DIA!!!!!!!!!!!

Regards,
Tshenelle aka Nelly B.