Caribbean Cruise, Day 5: Aruba

The next day found us in Aruba, which was more or less around the corner from Curaçao.

For the past few days, we had been getting up pretty late. At night, the ship usually tries to travel at a faster clip and as a result… the waters get a bit rougher. Since we were usually up until midnight or later, we could typically feel the boat moving a bit more, prior to going to sleep.

Also, with our cabin on the inner deck – when the lights were out, the whole room was pretty dark. So whether it was 6:00 AM or 11:00 AM, both times looked the same as we had no sunlight to help us gauge the time.

But today’s excursion on shore had us up pretty early, and off the boat by 8:30 AM. Originally billed as a visit to an ostrich farm, we ended up taking a pretty considerable tour of the island as well (which was a surprise to me). We joined a lot of… elderly… folks on the bus, and were by far the youngest of the group.

Near the coastline, Liz checking out some of the strong waves as they reached shore.

The waves got pretty big.

Walking down towards the shore. Liz is looking out towards the spot where a natural land bridge used to be (before it collapsed in 2005).

Here’s a photo taken of the natural land bridge in 1973 (via Wikipedia).

Here’s what’s there now (2013).

Topside, looking out where the bridge used to be. Watching this guy made me really, really nervous as there were a lot of strong waves coming in. Plus, as our guide explained, the whole area was pretty unstable.

The collapsed natural land bridge.

A big wave that came in, a few moments later.

All along the coast, there were lots of rocks balanced on top of one another. Mostly, our guide explained, these constructions were done by tourists or people with a lot of time on their hands.

More balanced rocks.

Just outside the Aruba Ostrich Farm.

Doesn’t matter that we’re in Aruba – there’s no escaping Comic Sans.

Liz, sizing up an ostrich.

We learned that the males have dark feathers, and the females have gray ones. This guy was strutting around his pen, and kept his distance from us.

Every time I see this photo, I imagine the ostrich saying: Wat?.

Part of the tour involved an opportunity to walk up and feed the ostriches (using a bowl). We were warned that the ostriches liked shiny objects, and advised to remove jewelery and such. This woman didn’t heed the warning, and the ostrich on the far left grabbed her earring.

You can see the woman pointing to the earring on the ground, and the guide is trying to fend off the ostrich before he can snatch it up. The ostrich was hissing a bit, and was pretty ticked off that someone got between him and his precious.

Liz, stepping up to do the feeding. I love that the guy on the far left is eating so quickly that food is just spraying all over the place. Show some dignity, man.

Peck, peck, peck.

Two pigs, just chilling out on the farm.

This guy was hilarious. I’m not sure what he was rooting around for, but he was focused on this the entire time we watched him. Also? His tail was moving like a motor. You could have powered a small boat with that thing, the way it was going.

Our next stop: the Casibari Rock Formations. While there were some steps up to the top of the formation, it was a pretty tricky climb. There weren’t any rails on the way up, and if you slipped… it would’ve been pretty bad.

The guy in front of me ended up clinging to the lower wooden bar and swinging down, using it like he was on the horizontal bars. The thing bent like a moist noodle, and I’m amazed it didn’t snap on him, sending him tumbling down into the rock.

View at the top. You can sort of see the cruise ship out in the distance.

A great view of the island, from the top of the formation.

Me, choosing to stay near the center as the low (and rather flimsy looking) barrier didn’t inspire much confidence in me. With the wind kicking the way it was, I was sporting what looks like an awesome combover.

The back way down had more stairs, but was nearly twice as steep. Much like the path leading up to the top – one small tumble, and you were going to be in some serious trouble.

Walking around a bit on the gardens around the rock formation, we spotted several lizards just hanging out in the sun.

The foliage was so high, you could barely see beyond the path you were walking on.

Liz, exploring around.

Spotted this guy up in a tree.

After we arrived back at the ship (around 12:30 PM), we met up with Julie, Katie and Dan. All five of us decided to head to a nearby beach, as everyone wanted to go snorkeling. We passed by a few beaches on our tour, and so Liz helped guide our taxi driver to the place she wanted to visit.

We were tempted to take the local bus, but decided not to wait around. Grabbing a cab was a better option, and since the fares were regulated by the government… turned out to be close to the bus fare.

Me, looking out from my spot on the beach. With my poor vision, I didn’t end up snorkeling and kind of just sat around. I went in for a few quick dips, but mostly spent my time basking in the sun.

Where we were at was really nice – a kind of U-shaped area with a small 1.5 foot drop that kept the water at bay. This allowed the waves to get somewhat close, but without the risk of getting wet.

Liz, slowly making her way back to shore.

Everyone gathering near the rocks, to check out the various crabs that were emerging.

Julie and Liz, watching the crabs make their way across the rocks.

There were a lot of boats, anchored off in the distance. And in the small stretch of beach where we were at, there were a handful of straw hut/umbrellas, providing a bit of shade. We started off at the edge of the beach, but after some folks moved away… we ended up relocating right at the water’s edge.

Julie and Bob got the wait staff to sing a small serenade, to help Katie and Dan celebrate their 12 years of marriage together.

After dinner, we hung out for a bit in the main atrium area. The bottom-most floor is Deck 5 (where our rooms were), with the main staircases leading up to Decks 6 and 7.

It was pretty ideal, where we were located. On exiting our rooms, we walked through a small art gallery and were immediately in this area – which contained a bar, a small pastry shop (with sandwiches and sweets), a wine bar, and a coffee shop. Not too shabby.

Before going to bed, Liz and I decided to stay up to watch the swells. We were going through some rough waters, and the boat was really doing some ups and downs. We settled near a window by the bar on Deck 5, drank and just watched the massive waves roll by. We were there until after midnight, and I did surprisingly well – no freaking out, no nausea. Just a general sense of awe at how vast and angry the sea can get, and how small we felt… despite the size of the vessel we were in.

Exploring Half Moon Bay and the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

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