Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Aruba's stark contrasts

Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Royal Plaza Mall with Hugo Boss, Swarovski and Little Switzerland, are the names of the temples of consumption when you walk along Lloyd G. Smith Blvd. In between Kay's Fine Jewelry, Queens Jewelers or Milano Diamonds Gallery. Well, only the common people walk along here, the clientele that goes shopping here drives up in the luxury limousine. The hazard lights are turned on and the car is stopped on the boulevard for lack of parking space. Unloading and loading can then take an hour, but that doesn't seem to bother anyone here. For the common people or better said for the cruiser with inside cabin without balcony, there is then I Love Aruba Store or The Local Market Aruba. Oranjestad has completely adjusted to tourists with a loose purse and you get your money's worth as such here. But only the cruisers are not enough to generate a high enough turnover. 

Beacharea in Aruba

Northwest of Oranjestad are the dream beaches of Aruba, of which at least everyone has heard. The beaches are not only breathtaking on the brochures and postcards, they are also really beautiful white. And the gnarled Divi-Divi trees facing one side contrast with their shape and green leaves with the seemingly endless sandy strips. However, that was it with the idyll. Immediately adjacent to the beach are huge hotel complexes, such as the Ritz Carlton or the three Marriott's, Resort & Stellaris Casino, Ocean Club and Surf Club. Unlike the other Caribbean islands we have visited so far, there are no restrictions on the height of buildings. Thus, high-rise buildings disfigure the beach image. But within these complexes probably no wishes remain open. The situation is quite different in the Dakota, Barcelona or Primavera districts. Here the desires lie on the street, but nobody can afford them. The supermarkets are called Lee Feng, Feng Wei or Dakota Supermarket and are in Chinese hands. Those who have something protect themselves with high walls, sight-protecting iron gates, with camera surveillance and alarm systems. The island is considered the safest Caribbean island of all. A rogue is, who begins to think about it now. What is no longer needed is put on the street for those who have even less. If it is no longer needed at all, it is disposed of in the fallow neighboring property. 

Divi-Divi Tree

Nevertheless, with a few exceptions, the island is tidy and clean. Plastic waste, as on many other Caribbean islands, is rarely found here. The standard of living is very high compared to other Caribbean islands, which has its price, which is reflected in the cost of living. The people are very hospitable and approach you openly. There are many immigrants from Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. They are fun-loving, talk a lot and if you are lucky you will get good tips, if not you will at least have a nice conversation. In contrast to Colombia, many speak English here, which reminds me again to work on my Spanish, at least that would be very helpful for our next stage. Aruba belongs to the islands "under the wind", where "the" is misleading, actually it should be called "islands under wind". Since we are here the east wind whistles, with few exceptions, with 20 to 25 knots over the anchor field. In the gust 30 to 35 knots are nothing unusual. 

Fantastic sunsets on Aruba

When the tropical storm "Bonnie", passed through a little south of the island last week, it was significantly less. On this day you could breathe once at 10 to 15 knots. With this wind there is of course a lot of movement in the boat, but we are still relatively calm with our catamaran, while the Monos rock quite a bit from time to time. On the other hand, the wind makes the temperatures quite bearable. When you come out of the water, you usually don't need a towel. Air-dried, it takes a maximum of two minutes, similar to the blower of a car wash, and you are dry again. To be honest, the travel reports on the sights of Aruba have deterred me from visiting them. I just don't feel like standing in a line to jump into a natural pool for once, or being the tenth vehicle on an off-road adventure to inhale the dust of my predecessors. But we still have some time and maybe there is the possibility to have a look at one or the other individually. As they say in certain circles: "Everything can, nothing must". We will keep you informed in any case. In this sense, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.