Snorkeling – finally…

Aruba

Well, we survived the rocking and pitching of the ship last night. I love when the ocean is rough; I do enjoy experiencing the power of the water.

Today we are in Aruba, one of the places in the Caribbean that Jeff and I enjoy snorkelling. Finally we’ll get a chance to get our fins wet. We go up to breakfast, and I notice throw-up bags (empty ones) placed around the ship – I guess some people don’t enjoy the rough seas as much as I do.

We know exactly what we’re going to do today, though Jeff does express one concern. That concern is that when he went to Humberto’s talk about Aruba, the directions given for the bus station didn’t match where we’ve always gone. Well, we’ll play it by ear.

Slathered up with sunscreen, we take our snorkelling backpack, disembark and head for the bus. Yup, it is right where it has always been. Of course, we’ve just missed the number 10; the bus that will take us to Malmec Beach. We wait ten minutes, I notice that it is pretty windy which is not good because wind causes wave action, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, a half hour. Busses come and go and finally ours arrives. Whew, we were getting a little concerned. It is already close to 2pm (The ship arrived around 1p.) Getting on the bus was a little bit of a hassle because we were told the fare was $2.50 each, but the driver charges us (and everyone else) $2.60. Naturally we have no change, but he gives us a coin in exchange for an extra dollar. We figure that’s our change for the ride back.

As the bus toodles along, I notice that it has been raining here. There are big puddles along the side of the road. I’m hoping that the snorkling conditions will be okay. We get off at Malmec and waves are CRASHING into the rocks! The entry we normally use, a little cove set between two rock walls is usually nice and calm, but today it looks like a blowhole! There is no way we are even going over there to look. This does not bode well.

Further down the way, I see a sandy beach and people in the water. We walk there lugging our stuff. There are very few people in the water and the waves are breaking close to the beach with the water running up high on the sand. We don’t see any snorkelers, and we stand staring at the water for a while. I told Jeff “I’ll get in and check it out” which I did. Crap! There is no way we’re going to be snorkeling today. First of all the wave action was bi-directional with the waves slamming into each other making them bigger and then they would slam into me. In addition to that there was a pretty strong undertow. Way less than ideal. I got out and told Jeff that I thought it was too dangerous. We were very disappointed, but certainly not willing to risk our lives. Then Jeff said, “Well, with the waves and rain, everything will be churned up anyway.” So true!! Even if we did snorkel, the likelihood of seeing anything other than swirling sand was unlikely.

We spend an hour or so laying in the sand, Jeff in the shade and me in the sun. We did see three snorkelers go in, and one of them had a very difficult time. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it out of the water without help, and he just barely did by kind of crawling.

Time to go back to the ship. We’re disappointed, but we do have a few things to do in town so we walk back to the bus stop. There is already a young local woman there, and since there is no posted schedule or anything I’m relieved to see someone else waiting. No bus, no bus, no bus…I think we stood there about 45 minutes when finally a little white minivan with “Bus” on the windshield stopped. There was already a couple aboard, our waiting companion got in and then we got in and Jeff tried to give the guy our money, but he wouldn’t take it. Huh? I say “crucero” (cruise ship), he nods and off we go. Except this isn’t like any other bus route we’ve been on. Our first stop was at an apartment complex and the original couple hands the driver money and they get out. Jeff whispers to me “I think this is a taxi.” I whisper back, “But it says ‘bus’ on the windshield.” Always an adventure. Now we are driving through a residential area, then a very industrial part of town. I can see our ship off to the right – at least, I reassure myself we aren’t too far astray.

Eventually the driver stops and asks, “Is this all right?” and we were at the port. Hooray! Jeff handed him our bus fare; we had no idea if that was the right amount for a taxi or not. He thanked us, we thanked him and went to our cabin, changed clothes, and got our wallets. Now we have plenty of time to walk around town, which we’ve never done before.

I buy a tee-shirt and we saunter along the outside vendor stalls. I strike up a rudimentary conversation in Spanish with an elderly vendor. I tell her I am learning to speak Spanish…SHE speaks four languages fluently! Talk about a melting pot.

Jeff decides to go back to the store where I bought my shirt to pick up a couple of little gifts. I stand outside people watching – Jeff takes forever in the store, but he finally reappears. There is a liquor store right across the street. We figure prices will be astronomical, but they aren’t at all. We’re very surprised and since we have only three nights left on the ship, we get just one bottle of wine.

No one blinks an eye at our wine bottle which we’ve made no attempt to hide. Guess the rules are pretty lax since this is our last port. (They would, however, confiscate anything other than wine or champagne and return it to you the last night of the cruise.)

We meet our friends, catch up on what everyone did today. They all spent the day wandering around town. Trish was excited that in downtown they had stumbled upon a shop making soap. She picked some up for gifts. Leroy grinned as he told us that after all the walking around, they sat down and had ice cream. I think that was the highlight of his afternoon!

 

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