Vacationing in Aruba, 8/10 to 8/13

Guys, Aruba was a much-needed breath of fresh air. This was my first view of the ocean and I was utterly enchanted.Our hosts, Deno and Helen, very generously picked us up at the airport when we arrived on Saturday and delivered us to their timeshare at Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club. The drive to the resort was such a visually interesting experience. Aruba used to be a Dutch colony, and there was a great contrast of gingerbread-y architecture and open air island markets.

driving in Aruba

If I had to change anything, I would only have asked for more time, but we made the most of what we had. Bags were dropped off, swimsuits and cover-ups were donned, and we made our way down to Hadicurari, a restaurant on Palm Beach. I ordered a grouper sandwich off the lunch menu, and could not believe how delicious it tasted. At first I thought they added special ingredients, but then I realized it was just slathered in mayo. I always hold the mayo these days and I had forgotten how creamy and tasty that stuff is! We settled back to soak in the island life and the local beer, Balashi.

Hadicurari

beach lounging

That first night, I had a near-gout experience. Deno treated us to an unforgettable meal at Texas de Brazil. It was my first time at a Brazilian Steakhouse, and I wasn’t ready. Let me repeat, I was not ready.

We had a bit of a wait time before we were seated, and when we were shown to our table, I was ready to get down with some food. The meat was succulent and juicy (especially the chicken sausage), and before I knew it I had consumed at least 48 lbs of it. True story. And then I decided to top it off with creme brulee because why not. We had planned on going out that night but by the time we made it back to our suite, meat coma had struck us all. It was a rough, uncomfortable night.

Texas de Brazil

Despite having gained 10 lbs overnight, I fearlessly threw on a two piece the next day for some fun catamaran action. This was the only excursion we did while in Aruba, and it was easily the highlight of the trip. Our first snorkeling stop was over a shipwreck which totally made me feel like a treasure hunter. The water was pretty deep so I couldn’t see a lot of the WWII ship, but it was still pretty awesome. These black and white fish were the friendliest and if you held your fingers out like you had food, a school of them would come up and swarm around in front of you. Some people on our boat saw a sea turtle!

catamaran

The thing I ended up loving the most about the excursion was the rope swing on the boat!! I’ve never in my life used one of those things, and for my first swing over the water I screamed bloody murder (I almost drowned out the laughter from the boat). The second swing was rough too, our fearless captain was attempting to give me a good push for more speed, and instead I slipped off the boat before I was ready. By the third go round I was a freaking pro!

rope swing

When we made our way back to the beach and the resort area, we headed over to MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant for a few libations. I loved the vibe of this place. It’s an open-air palapa right on the beach, and a perfect stop after a dip in the ocean. The bartenders were friendly, prices decent and hamburgers were surprisingly large and tasty (again with that mayo!). MooMba is the place to be on Sunday nights, for visitors and islanders, and when we made our way back there later that night, it was packed.

MooMba

I had been hoping to make the 6ish mile round trip run to the California Lighthouse, but I just couldn’t work up the motivation in the face of all that humidity. I wasn’t going to go my whole trip without doing something active (besides posing for pictures), and Monday morning happened to be Zumba morning at the Marriott. The class was a sweaty good time.

Zumba and cool runnings

The rest of the day was all about take it easy mode. We did a lap at the swim up bar, lounged, chilled with some of the fellow resorters…

iguanas in aruba

…and did some souvenir shopping.

souvenirs in aruba

I didn’t spend all of my money on souvenirs; I saved a little to play with later that night at Stellaris casino. My roulette skills had been hyped up all day, so of course I lost twenty bucks in two minutes. I didn’t lose it at roulette though, I lost it by sitting down at a machine that I thought was penny slots but was really dollar slots. D’oh. Does that only happen to me?

Stellaris casino

Waking up Tuesday was a cold dose of reality. Ashley and James headed out early to catch their flight, but Yvette, Corneka and I had almost a full day to say goodbye to beautiful Aruba. We made our way to a restaurant we hadn’t tried yet, Nos Clubhuis, and it was easily my favorite meal of the trip. We ate lionfish, bony but delicious! We also tried pastechi (like hot pockets only twenty times better) and funchi.

Nos Clubhuis

And then it was time to wish Aruba a fond farewell.

20130813_132449

Always, Sierra

For another take on Aruba, check out Ashley’s travel log here

I’m Back! Wish me luck!

After an 11 hour over-night layover in Charlotte, North Carolina, we made it back from Aruba safe and sound. The layover made for a long trip home, but we managed to entertain ourselves.

Waffle house

A post all about our trip is on the horizon. Also on the horizon for tomorrow is Run for the Seals, a 4 mile run in the beautiful Marin Headlands. Due to diligent tapering vacaition-itis, my legs are going to be super fresh. I haven’t ran since last Friday. Wish me luck!

Five Things I’m Looking Forward To In Aruba

A day of heavy computer work and sitting yesterday left my hips all achey and my ankles all twingey, so I did some yoga at home to stretch things out.

yoga on hulu

Quick tip: Hulu is a great resource for free yoga “classes”. Most of the classes are 20-30 minutes long so you can combine different target areas to customize your workout. (One caveat: you still have to sit through 30 second commercials in some of the episodes, but I use that time to focus on my breathing…or check my phone for messages…bad yogi, bad!)

I wanted to take it gentle on my hips and ankles so I wouldn’t have to worry about hobbling around in…Aruba!

Tonight I’ll be hopping on one of these…

{source}

..and tomorrow I’ll be waking up to this!

{source}

Y’s brother is letting us use his timeshare, and I could not be more ready for time spent with good friends and some tropical paradise in my life. I’ve been doing some research to let the anticipation build, and here are a few things I’m looking forward to.

1. Running to the California Lighthouse – The lighthouse isn’t open to the public, but the views are supposed to be spectacular, particularly at sunset. First lit in 1916, it is named after a steamship that sank not far off the coast in the late 1800s. It’s around a 6-8 mile roundtrip run depending on where in Noord you start. Exploring new places on foot is one of the reasons I started running, so I’m super excited. Word on the street is that all the local goats hang out there too, and you know I love me some animals!

2. Learning some Papiamento – Papiamento is the official language of Aruba. Its parent language is believed to be Iberian,  but it has grown to incorporate parts of Dutch, English and Spanish. I enjoy hearing the rhythm of different languages when I travel, and I hope to pick up at least a word or two. With phrases like

Eynan e porco su rabo ta krul (“That is where the pig’s tail curls”): that is where the problem lies.

how could this not be an awesome language?

3. Exploring Arikok National Park – Almost 20% of the island of Aruba has been dedicated to create this national park that is home to burrowing owls, bat caves, wild donkeys, cascabels, and Arawak Indian drawings. Horseback riding and hiking are both options, and there’s a Natural Pool to take a dip in too. I’m not sure if we’ll make it here since it’ll be a short visit and we’re staying on the other side of the island , but I hope we do!

4. Absorbing the culture – By absorbing, I mean opening my mouth and inserting deliciousness like pastechi, croquettes, and calco stoba. Checking out the flea market would also be fantastic, and I found this great website for birding.

5. Taking some time to just be – I’m going to enjoy the chance to get out of my head a bit. To get away from the busyness and sense of urgency that comes from putting out a dozen small fires a day. There will be sun salutations. There will be sketching and poems and rambling sentences. Laughter, and hugs, and joy at winning roulette. There will be fun in the sun with good friends. Restoration and relaxation.

I’ll have some scheduled posts going up until I get back next week. I’ll leave you with this priceless gem, something I’ve been humming all week and that I never get tired of…

Always, Sierra

What’s the last vacation you took?

Have you been to Aruba? Any recommendations?

What’s your favorite Beach Boys song? Did you see that one episode of Full House? You know the one!