Aruba: Eight Days in Paradise

Official tropical vacation of yours truly this summer: Aruba

Hit play on the Beach Boys, Kokomo track. It is time to blog, Aruban style!

I am going to do my damn hardest not to brag about this paradise getaway that I will be spending eight days in. However, I cannot make any promises that a little boasting might not leak out.

In light of my much-anticipated (and much needed) excursion to one of the Southernmost islands in the Caribbean, I wanted to throw out some interesting facts and photos to- you guessed it- brag!

No, but in all honestly, this is normally what I do well before I take off to any vacation; regardless of duration of stay or proximity, I always look into where I am going in medium to heavy depth. Besides, we cannot learn everything through books and websites, there are most certainly aspects to any vacation- in any place in the world- where prior preparation does not hold a flame to physically, being in that location, hands on learning with our eyes; seeing, touching and embracing that country’s culture. 

Preparedness is fun, though. It helps with the anticipation of waiting, which in my case, is four months. So after heading over to my trusty travel sidekick, TripAdvisor.com, I took it upon myself to hit up Google for the more earthy details of this island.

The Basics

1. The capital of Aruba is Oranjestad.

2. The perfect weather all year round (average of 82 degrees with continual sunshine, only 16 inches of rain per year) is the reason Aruba is the Caribbean’s number one island for return-visitors.

3. Aruba lies outside of the Hurricane Belt. (Yippie skippie for me and my August vacation!)

4. Divi trees are the most distinct aspect of Aruba’s geography.

5. Aruba is only 19 miles long and 5 miles wide, lies 12 degrees North of the Equator, and 18 miles from the Northern Venezuela coast.

6. While English is commonly spoken in Aruba, the native tongue is called “Papiamento.” Derived from Portuguese and Spanish languages, slaves of the 1500’s developed this language.

7. Aruba’s currency is “florin”, which was once used in the Netherlands before it was replaced with the Euro.

Random Facts

1. The Caquieto Indians of the Arawak Tribe from South America were Aruba’s first inhabitants at around 2500 BC.

2. The first European explorers to find Aruba were Spanish, but are today ruled by the Dutch, after seizing back the island from Britain’s 11-year rule during the Napoleonic Wars.

3. Aruba’s economy is dependent on tourism, but outside that, this island exports plastic bags, soaps and disinfectants, refined sugar and rice products- on a small scale.

4. Much of Aruba’s vibrant architecture is made with coral rocks and mortar, a lost art on this island, but can still be seen standing today.

Gold mine ruins

5. Aruba’s name is commonly thought to be a derived from the Indian phrase, “oruba,” or “well-placed,” due to the beautiful climate and landscapes.

6. Many of the town names on this island are named after chiefs of the Carib Indians of Venezuela, such as Turibana, Guadirikiri, Camacuri, Andicuri and Bushiri.

7. The island is rich in aloe, limestone, grape trees and small amounts of petroleum oil.

Little baby aloe plant

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And what will I be eating?

- Traditional “Stoba” or stewpots of locally grown vegetables typically have goat, beef or Conch (Calco), an oyster-like shellfish in them.

Mmm, goat stew!

Mmm, goat stew!

-Mostly all main dishes are served with peas or some type of bean.

-Coconut shrimp here are a hit, and is probably the most literal recipe you will taste    (assuming so) since Red Lobster.

-The official beer of Aruba is Balashi.

-Vegetarian/Vegan? No problem, says Aruba! Locally grown eggplant with mashed potatoes is a popular non-meateater’s dinner choice. 

-Pisca den Foil is a tradtional recipe for fish (normally swordfish, shark or pernod) cooked over a bead of rice, with white wine ontop.

Snack Time! 

Forget Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs, Arubans snack on a “Pastechi” or a small pie filled with either cheese or beef. Can I have both? Upon some research of this delightfully sounding snack-a-roo, I see that it is similar to an empanada; a half shape of dough which is fried after being stuffed with ingredients.

Even the islands’ McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants sell them on their breakfast menu, but I would most certainly prefer mine from one of the many street vendors that open as early as 6:30 a.m. Arubans have a ton of variety when it comes to the Pastechi, there is even a seafood version. Sign me up!

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The closest thing I will have today to anything Aruba is a light beer, pizza rolls and that 50 degrees of breezy but still satisfying sunshine.

Where are you going on vacation this year?

*Thanks to my source sites: Aruba.com, Arubafacts.com and Frommers.com, with of course extensive research through Tumblr, and fellow blogmates.