Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Aruba, between heaven and hell

The night slowly comes to an end and a new day begins. Due to the late arrival we didn't have many hours to recover, but we also don't want to stay too long at the edge of the industrial port. What we didn't realize during the night is that we are right next to the garbage dump of Aruba. The smell of burning and the clouds of smoke carried by the strong wind enter our noses and finally wake us up. From the shore the warning signal of a reversing truck sounds over to us. The turquoise blue water and the moon-like landscape, the disposal hill, of the otherwise so flat island, the Arubian definition of a garbage incinerator, do not fit together somehow, in our heads. The idea of paradise beaches, white and untouched, and the current situation, we get mentally not on the row. Instead of paradise, we have landed in hell. Only slowly, due to the lack of sleep of the last days, our thoughts become clearer and we concentrate on the next task, clearing in. We move to the wooden pier of the customs in Barcadera. Immigration is a bit further and must be visited first. Clearing in via SailClear was for naught, because for Aruba you have to clear in on a website that usually has to be filled out in advance. The official is patient with us and I fill out the five pages and send them off. After an hour we have passed the first hurdle. Now we go to customs. This is only a formality and after a quarter of an hour we are already out. We make the boat ready to leave, when two young customs officers show up to inspect the boat. But this also runs smoothly, so that we are now finally cleared in.

Arrived in Aruba

With 20 knots of wind we sail along the narrow strip of water between the reef edge and the island. Passing the airport, we finally reach Surfside Beach. Here we drop anchor in a very sheltered bay on three meters of sand. In front of us a white beach, a few umbrellas, some beach bars and the, for Aruba so well known, Divi-Divi tree. Escaped from hell only a few miles ago, paradise is just around the corner. We are starting to feel comfortable.

Divi-Divi tree

The next two days are spent with repairs. The tarpaulin of the main sail has torn on starboard and must be sewn. Since some edges are doubled, our sewing machine does not manage it and we have to sew some meters by hand, with our hand sewing machine. We also have water in the starboard bilge. While searching, we discover that the housing of the carbon filter, the water maker, makes exactly the same problems as the housing of the microfilter, already in Cape Verde. There is a crack on the thread of the solenoid valve, from which the water drips steadily. After two days of work, it pulls us but then on land and we make the dinghy clear to moor in the Renaissance Marina. 

Hand sewing machine

The bay turns out to be very flat and halfway we get stuck. Someone has to get out and push. Who that is is also clear. Somehow we manage to get free and reach the dinghy dock. Looking for something to eat we come across several Chinese supermarkets. The offer is moderate, the prices exorbitant. Apples, the kilo 5€, beer the bottle (207ml) 2€, just to list two examples. Bread! Chinese do not eat bread. Nevertheless, there is at least the slack toast bread, which, as soon as air comes to it, begins to mold. Never mind, let's just cut it out. After we have made a few careful purchases, we are immediately hit by the next shock. In a bar, I would say sports bar, because of the many screens that show us all around the current events of the US PGA Tour, we drink a beer and a Coca Cola. We pay a measly 14US$ for it. At the latest now we know that we have arrived in hell, only in Aruba they take it from the living. Since Gaby flies from here to Germany, we explore the local airport the next day. It is manageable and just a half hour walk from our anchorage. On the way back we try out a beach bar. Again, as you would expect, the prices are off the charts. The drink flacons (207ml) are sold here for 5,5US$. In the second row they are then for 4US$ to have, which keeps me urgently to look for cheaper variants. Finally I find two larger supermarkets of the western hemisphere outside Oranjestad. Here I get the beer in the 330ml can for 1,86US$ in the offer. At least, the beach evenings are saved. Now I know why the Dutch always bring everything from home. 

Bar in Aruba

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to transport a case of beer by plane, so I have to make do with the local conditions. By the way, 1.5l of non-carbonated water costs 1.85US$, not really an alternative. So financially we are going through hell right now, in the middle of paradise. Whether we survive that we tell you next time, until then always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.