Sunday, 21 September 2014

IS ARUBA FOR BACKPACKERS?




ARUBA

Aruba is beautiful, no doubt about it! But is it for me? Noooo, of course not! It´s exactly the kind of place I usually try to avoid...Lots of Americans, all inclusive resorts, full of fat old people lying in beach chairs in front of their hotels...And the other side of it - big noisy clubs and discotheques everywhere, full of drunk, young and not that young Americans..
I had it stuck in my head already that while in Venezuela (Venezuela with Chavez alive) I will go to one of the Dutch islands next to it - Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire and there was no way someone talks me out of it! I went to Coro, Venezuela with the idea of finding a boat to one of the islands but talking to the locals I decided not to risk it. Since there is no official service by boat to the islands, it was going to be illegal and the risk of being caught just for the excitement of adventure and saving a bit of money was not worth it. So the other option was by plane. 
I went straight to the airport in Punto Fijo with the idea to get on a flight to Aruba. Spent almost the whole day there taking the unfriendly attitude of the girls working at Tiara Air. Finally there was a seat left for the last flight that day so I got on the smallest plane I´ve ever taken. Another “You need a visa” story happened as usual until they spoke to someone a bit more intelligent to realize I was right and finally after a long day of endless waiting and frustration I got the plane ticket in my hands. The whole pleasure takes 15 minutes and costs 100 US $ return (you actually see the island, it is so close).
Such a little plane, I think we were only 20 passengers

I was quite lucky to find a host on CS (couchsurfing) because there are no hostels in Aruba or a backpacker´s guesthouses and it is so expensive. Hugo from Mexico had his night shift at Señor Frogs when I arrived (got a ride from the airport to the restaurant by an immigration officer).
Being a manager at one of the busiest bars/clubs on the islands, Hugo was an exemplar host. He felt responsible for keeping me fed and entertained by giving me lots of the restaurant´s meals, drinks and gift certificates for snorkeling, cruises etc.
I will repeat myself but its not exactly my kind of place – very glossy and shiny, full of resorts and 5 star hotels and heaps of Americans but since I was staying only for 2 days (well, that changed later on), it was fine.  The beach was the typical Caribbean beach – white sand and crystal blue water but all the hotels kind of ruin it.  That´s just me though, I`m sure most of them had their perfect holiday there. That´s why there are things for all tastes. I just wished I went to Curacao or Bonaire which are a bit more laid back and maybe not backpacker´s like but at least for young people.
All locals (about 100 000 people) speak fluently 4 languages – Dutch (official), English and Spanish (pretty well too) and Papiamento. They all live off the tourist´s wallet and maybe 1% produces Aloe vera J.

Typical
Went snorkeling on this boat. with lots of Americans and limitless booze. Wasn´t the best snorkeling I´ve done..I guess there were way too many boats so most of the fish got scared away

I was the only one lying on a towel (sarong). The hotels provide beach lounges for their guests

And me getting toasted



Señor Frogs. They had a ping pong table so I had to give them a few lessons :)
Everyone was doing it so I took my turn.
All staff have to participate
Hugo 
I got so wasted on my second night…Hugo opened a bottle of Mezcal that he brought from Mexico and together with endless number of Margaritas I had, the result wasn’t nice. I remember Hugo driving me back home and me puking out of the window, so embarrassing, haven’t done that since I was 19. I ended up missing my flight next day back to Venezuela but it`s also because they changed it from 4,30 pm to 10am and they informed me leaving a voice mail on Hugo´s mobile which we got at around 10pm the night before, right when we were busy with the mescal. 
But anyways, I went to the airport to catch my original flight, innocently pretending I never got the message and ready to fight tooth and nail to get a discount for the new flight I needed to buy (or at least the fine I had to pay). Imagine my surprise when instead, they gave me a room in a 4 star hotel by the beach, vouchers for taxis from and to the airport, big value vouchers for restaurants and changed my flight for free for next day, same time. I couldn`t believe my luck. Went straight to my hotel (never had such a big bed all for myself) and spent the rest of the day recovering from my hungover in bed, watching films with a quick break for dinner. So instead of a cheap backpacking style holiday in Aruba I got all the treats that one could want and all for free. Real lucky!
Look how small my backpack looks in this massive bed!


At least the sunsets were amazing
Last one from Aruba
Next day after some good time on the beach and by the hotel pool, a proper lunch too, I headed to the airport, this time to leave for real. 

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