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Trip Report P_M's unusual Aruba adventure

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Well folks, you know what they say about the best laid plans? We travelers know things don’t always turn out they way you expect. The trick is not to let it spoil your trip. Here is our unusual Aruba adventure.

We chose Aruba because we were told you are virtually guaranteed a rain-free vacation even during hurricane season. Supposedly Aruba is so far south it is below the hurricane belt and it is not affected by hurricanes. WRONG!!

We were there from Nov 3-10, 2010. We stayed at the Radisson which we loved and highly recommend. We booked through MCM/Player’s Choice tours which I also recommend. Our plan was to swim and snorkel near the hotel, take a few excursions such as the Jolly Pirates and the submersible, and NOT to rent a car.

But none of those things happened. Why? I’m glad you asked. Two words: HURRICANE TOMAS. Yes folks, mean ole Tomas changed everything. First of all, it rained almost the entire week we were there. We had an hour or two of sun here and there, but that’s about it as we never had a day w/o rain. The beach outside our hotel was too rough for swimming and advisories were posted everywhere urging us not to get into the water. A few people did anyway and they had a heck of a time getting out, as the current had a bad undertow. The water was murky and a lot of seaweed and other stuff washed ashore. The pier next to the hotel had to be closed and all furniture was removed as the waves were pulling wooden slats out of the pier. By the end of the week the pier was still standing but needed repairs and was still closed.

Now for the excursions. As I mentioned above we were going to do a few of those including the submersible and the Jolly Pirates snorkeling tour. Nope, didn’t happen as all excursions were cancelled due to rough seas and murky water. “Crap” we thought, “what will we do?”

DH isn’t quite as adventuresome as I am and he hates driving anywhere in the world. I suggested we should get a rental car and of course I would drive. At first he didn’t like the idea but I told him that’s the only way we will get out of the hotel and actually see some of Aruba. I had read about a place called Baby Beach in our guidebook and suggested we go there. I don’t know why, I assumed Baby Beach would be murky and rough like the beach by our hotel but I wanted to see it anyway. DH finally agreed and we got the last rental car available at the Hertz desk at our hotel.

We soon discovered driving is easy in Aruba. They drive on the right and most drivers are civilized, unlike what we have experienced on other islands. (those other islands shall remain nameless but some of you know what I’m talking about) We went across the island to Baby Beach and much to our surprise the sun came out. Baby Beach was not rough our murky like the hotel beach, probably because it’s sort of a cove and it’s protected by rocks that act as a barrier. We had about 2 hours of sunshine for snorkeling at Baby Beach and it was great. If anyone reading should ever go to Baby Beach, the good snorkeling is by the rocks. Another thing we liked about Baby Beach is the people there were mostly Aruban. Not that I have anything against being around other tourists but it’s good to be in a place the locals enjoy. Baby Beach is in a strange location, with a refinery on one side and a prison on the other.

Over the next few days we went back to Baby Beach again and again. Once we drove all the way down there expecting a sunny day, only to have the sky open up and rain really hard. Then we drove back in hard rain and flooded streets but somehow we made it. That was a bummer so we spent the afternoon at the hotel bar. But the next day we took our chances again and had a nice sunny afternoon at Baby Beach. The rain came later.

On another day we drove to the north end of the island to see the lighthouse. The views up there were gorgeous, in spite of heavy clouds looming in the sky. We also saw some beautiful geckos of all different colors and I wondered if this is a sign we should switch to Geico insurance. We drove back and stopped at a few beaches along the way, however we didn’t get into the water because it looked so mean. I read in my guidebook these beaches are usually good for snorkeling but there’s no way it was possible on that gloomy day. Tomas was rearing his ugly head again making the seas really rough. We did enjoy seeing waves crashing up on the rocks.

After a few days we turned the car back in and just bummed around the hotel. When the sun came out we hit the hotel pools, when it was rainy we vegged out in the room. We checked periodically to see if the excursions had resumed but that never happened during out time in Aruba. We also enjoyed the casino at night, as well as hanging out at the bar by the pool. Even in the rain it was fun to see the ocean at sunset.

PLEASE READ THIS

If you skimmed through my report that’s OK, but please read this part. On our last visit to Baby Beach my DH somehow lost his wallet. We don’t know how this happened since the wallet was locked up in the car while we were at the beach. We think it fell out of the car somehow, or maybe DH put the wallet on the roof of the car and we drove off before realizing what happened.

We drove from Baby Beach to the hotel, and when we got back to the hotel he noticed it was missing. We frantically searched the car, our beach bag, etc but no wallet. Panic was just setting in and I was about to stop all of our credit cards when a miracle happened. The concierge called to tell us a guy was on his way to the hotel to return DH’s wallet!! The guy left his phone # so we called him and offered to meet him somewhere at his convenience. He said he lived across the island by Baby Beach but he was already on his way to our hotel. DH and I were stunned, not only that we were getting the wallet back but that he would drive so far to return it. The reason he knew where to find us is DH’s room key was in the wallet, so the guy knew we were at the Radisson.

When the guy arrived we offered him a cash reward but he refused. We begged him to take it but he stood his ground and kept refusing. He said he was a photographer for the Aruban news and all he wanted was permission to put our picture in the paper and tell the story. We agreed, posed for the picture, then on the day we left we took home a copy of the newspaper with our picture and a little blurb about how we got the wallet back.

So in spite of all the bad weather and closed excursions, this was a fabulous trip. The highlight of the trip for me was when the guy brought back the wallet. I know it sounds strange that is my fondest memory but it is something most people wouldn’t do and it left a great memory for us. We also enjoyed being at the Radisson and there is no question we would stay there again. Aruba is my favorite Caribbean island and I hope we will return again soon. But not during hurricane season.

So remember friends, if your best laid plans do not come true, there's no reason to let it ruin your trip. Just remember you are on vacation and go with the flow. If life gives you lemons then you must make lemonade. Or better yet, make limoncello. In our case, if not for the rain we might not have gone to Baby Beach, hence we would not have met the honest man who returned DH's wallet.

Thank you for reading.

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