- Off to experience some family moments Oct 5, 2017
Natasha is still in New York. She decided not to come home this long weekend. She is also not a beach person. So, it is Sharmila, Nikita and myself only for this family vacation. To an island country in the Caribbean full of beaches. A pretty small country actually. Lengthwise, they cannot hold a marathon run without asking you to turn around from the other side. Width wise, it is shorter than the race we did last Saturday.
Any guesses where we are off to? Here is one hint: Don’t forget Irma and Maria!!
- Nikispeak: A storage disk Oct 5, 2017
In Miami airport, we were walking around when I came across a picture of an old 3.5inch disk. Showing it to Nikita, I explained – “Believe it or not, in the 1990s, this is how we stored data. Each one of them could store 1.4MB of data. Put in todays’s terms – just to store ONE of your iPhone pictures, you would need three or four of them. For one photo!!!”
Nikita weighed in what she had heard and said wisely “That just proves one thing…”
Expecting her to comment on the rapid progress of technology, I asked “What?”
Pat came the reply – “That you are really old, Dad”.
- Family dinner in Aruba Oct 5, 2017
- Perfect beauty… Oct 6, 2017
- A true Roy family vacation never really gets started… Oct 6, 2017
- Even the reptiles are sky blue here… Oct 6, 2017
- Just before I brought out the surprise for her… Oct 6, 2017
- Relaxing by the swim up bar… Oct 6, 2017
- Antics in the pool Oct 6, 2017
- Chasing the golden ball… Oct 6, 2017
- Calm, serene sunset behind the clouds. Oct 6, 2017
- Cards with Nikita … Oct 6, 2017
About 35 years back, my brother, sister and I used to spend endless hours playing cards (we called them poker and fish but that has nothing to do with the poker and go-fish you know now) sitting out in the light breeze on warm nights in Durgapur before dinner.
Nikita and I did the same today (same two games) on this warm night with nice breeze in Aruba. 35 years later and 8,000 miles away…
- Exploring the island – Hadicurari Beach Oct 7, 2017
- Exploring the island – Divi Divi tree Oct 7, 2017
- Exploring the island – Something that surprised me Oct 7, 2017
I had a very mistaken notion of Aruba. I had assumed that it would be a tropical kind of island. Certainly the hospitality, humidity, local music and customs will remind you of tropical places. Today, we explored about half of the island (the north and west side). Outside of the beaches, it is as barren as it can be. Not too many trees, extremely rugged and dry soil. In fact, it is called a “desert island”. Funny part is that there was a lot of humidity in the air. But wherever it bordered on water, it was one heck of a blue ocean though. Here is a shot of the typical road we drove on today. Note the dryness of the soil. And the divi divi trees!!!
- Exploring the island – “Black and Blue” “Har Har Har” 🙂 Oct 7, 2017
- Exploring the island – the northwest tip Oct 7, 2017
The northwest end of the island is essentially a big limestone plateau. This lighthouse – built during the first World War – sits on the vantage point of being able to see water from pretty much every which way. The lighthouse itself is made of limestone rock. We did not go in but certainly took in the breathless views of water all around. And plotted to come back in the evening to watch the sunset from there…
- Exploring the island – the incongruity of it all… Oct 7, 2017
- Exploring the island – “Rub-a-dub-daab” 🙂 Oct 7, 2017
As the constant heat of direct sunlight beat mercilessly down upon us – only to be relieved by the air conditioning of the car, the first thing Sharmila spotted upon reaching the lighthouse was not the lighthouse itself. But the guy who was selling “daab” (Bengali word for green coconut)! I am sure that triggered off a lot of memories from the early days in India!
She not only got the guy to open up the coconut after she was done with the water so that she could eat the whatever that inside white mushy thing is called – she even got a curious Nikita to try it out!!
- Exploring the island – The north west side Oct 7, 2017
From the lighthouse, we started off roading. The dirt road was pretty dangerous at place. I had to plod along at about 10 miles per hour. I am not an excellent driver – especially on highways – but I am certainly more confident of myself on dirt roads and broken roads. And this one took all my attention and ability to maneuver. A couple of times, I had to back out and look for alternate path. The problem was that there were parts of the roads that were under water. There must have been some rains and the water just could not seep thru the hard rock. And I had no ability to decide how deep the water might be. Eventually, we made it though.
We stopped a couple of times on the way to look at the ground and the water. Here, I am standing on rock hard surface that has been washed and eroded by the water over eons and mostly ends in cliffs. The waves on the north side is decidedly bigger and were constantly lashing at the rocks. The water seemed deeper too.
- Exploring the island – the lashing of the waves… Oct 7, 2017
I had stopped the car and ventured out to the very edge of the cliff looking at the sheer drop on my left and right and how the waves were crashing upon them. When one wave snuck up on me and crashed right under where I was standing. As luck would have it, I had my camera on and had enough time to take a snap and turn around quickly to prevent the water droplets hit the lens…. I got wet though…
- Exploring the island – the rocks are beautiful Oct 7, 2017
- Exploring the island – Shoot! Which is the Root? Oct 7, 2017
- Exploring the island – Rock Wish Garden Oct 8, 2017
As we snaked thru the dirt roads closely hugging the waterline on the north eastern part of the island, we came up on this large area called “Rock Wish Garden”. As you can see from the picture, people pile on rocks in triangular formation. Apparently, you make a wish for every rock and its brings good luck to you.
Note that there is a concern raised these days around dislodging the rocks from their normal place.
- Exploring the island – Alta Vista Chapel Oct 8, 2017
We finally reached our destination after living thru all the rugged terrain. The first church or chapel ever built in Aruba. Unfortunately, this is the not the original building – it was destroyed. This is the newly built one in the 1950s.
One thing I never realized before I bought the tickets to Aruba is how close it is to Venezuela. Literally about a few miles (around 20)!! The original inhabitants in this island were the Arahawk Indians who came from Venezuela. Much much later, in the mid 1700s, a missionary came from Venezuela and built the original chapel. That chapel was also the place where all the local Indians were eventually converted to Christianity.
The reconstructed chapel (as you see here) is rather unremarkable. Very small and eerily quiet. You can see the ocean behind in the distance. But because it is at a high spot, you get a great view of the landscape and there is a constant wind here.
Also, there was somebody else selling green coconuts there!!
- Exploring the island – Bushiribana Ruins Oct 8, 2017
I got outvoted in terms of offroading again to go to our next spot – Bushiribana Ruins. So, I took the more paved roads and was there in about twenty minutes. I have to admit that this was somewhat of a let down. I guess whenever I think of “Ruins” in this part of the world, I think of centuries old relics, the Mayans etc…
This one is less than two hundred years old. In the mid 1800s, gold was extracted from rocks found in a nearby hill. Even that, I believe did not continue for too long. This building is really the remnants of the smelter that was built then.
- Window into her future? Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Mini Natural Bridge Oct 8, 2017
This was going to be our last spot for the day. Originally there was a huge natural bridge – basically water flowing underneath what looks like a humongous bridge – but was really a big natural rock. That used to be one of the greatest draw for tourists. Till 2005, when it crashed.
However, next to it, there is another small bridge – and when I say small, I mean about 50-70 yards (pretty big in an absolute scale). If you notice the water carefully, you will see one ugly side of civilization meeting nature – there are flotsams from beach goers who were careless about throwing their stuff in the water.
- Exploring the island – Aruba in one picture Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Sunset from the lighthouse Oct 8, 2017
After freshening up in the hotel, we went back to the lighthouse for a very nice restaurant there – Faro Blanco (the white lighthouse) for a couple of cocktails… and watch the sunset. It was beautiful, although there were still some clouds right above the horizon.
This picture was taken with a DSLR and I focused straight onto the sun to purposely make everything else darker.
- 5 mile run in the 15th country got me beat. Oct 8, 2017
Made the mistake of not listening to Sharmila and finish off my run early. 5 miles of run in the sand with direct sunlight in the face quickly dehydrated me. And that is when I realized my second mistake. I was not carrying water.
The one good thing about the divi divi trees is that they might be small, but they have flat tops. Had to stop for a couple of times on my way back under the shade to catch my breath.
Speaking of mistakes, I had not put on any sunscreen either. Got burnt pretty bad.
On the positive side, that was the 15th country that I have run a full run in…
- Exploring the island – Arikok National Park Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Boca Prins Oct 8, 2017
A collapsed rock has created an artificial inlet. Which has formed its own beach there. What is the remarkable is the difference in the color of the water in the shallow side versus the deep ocean side. I was able to get one angle where it seemed like the rock was preventing two different colored waters from mixing with each other!!
- Exploring the island – One of them was refusing to be silly… Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Hiked up to the top of the hill to see what the sheer cliff looked like… Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Feeling on the top of the world… Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Taking it all in… Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Fontein Cave Oct 8, 2017
- Exploring the island – Quadiriki Cave Oct 8, 2017
I believe the name is an original Aruban Indian one. Like Fontein, this one is also carved in to the limestone rock by the chemical process of calcium carbonate being left over during dissolution and then evaporation giving rise to beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. There are three chambers – although we were allowed to go only to the first two. The third one is blocked off from visitors to protect the bats there.
After you see the first chamber, you have to get to the second chamber by walking thru a very dark passage. But moment you approach the second chamber, you can sense that there is a lot of light there. Which would make you wonder how could light make it all the way there (you are about 150 feet away from the entrance by now). Till you reach the chamber and you lift your head up to realize that erosion has eaten part of the roof off and there is direct sunlight coming in thru the holes!!
- Exploring the island – Drink with a view!! Oct 8, 2017
One of the things that you will notice – really for not noticing – is the dearth of animals in Aruba. There are no large mammals here. Other than a couple of dogs here and there (even that, many seemed to belong to tourists), there are not much pets. I did not see a single cat in the whole island.
The only two wild animals we saw were a few donkeys and a bunch of goats in the mountains. Asked a local while having lunch today. Apparently, those are the only two wild animals you get here!!
I am sure the goats here were not going to complain about it as they fight for whatever non-cactus green food is available in the dry desert!!
- Exploring the island – our last stop – Baby Beach Oct 8, 2017
Our final stop for the day – and this trip – was Baby Beach. This is located at the very southwest end of the island. Venezuela is a mere twenty miles or so from here. I was told that on a clear day, you might be able to see Venezuela. I could not see anything. That might have to do with the fact that the sun was already in the west. Maybe I should have tried when the sun was still in the eastern sky.
The three of us did snorkeling – for the first time in our lives here. It was hilarious watching Sharmila and I get used to the snorkeling gear. Nikita was a big help straightening us out. Saw some very colorful fish.
I have mixed reviews about the place. The beach and the water is undoubtedly very beautiful. However, this place is very popular with the locals and gets very crowded. Perhaps, if you come here someday, you can try a working weekday. But that said, if you do make it here, just drive over for a couple of minutes to the beach next to it – Rodger’s Beach and walk up to Rum Reef and order a caipirinha. One of the best ones I have ever had!!
- Sunset captured this evening Oct 8, 2017
- Boat basking in the afterglow of the sunset Oct 8, 2017
- Quiet moment Oct 8, 2017
While taking pictures of the setting sun, I moved around quite a bit on the beach to adjust for oncoming boats, people moving around and all that. A sight caught my eye and left a deep impression. There was a dad and his daughter who were mesmerized by the setting sun. They were in the water, standing next to each other. Not a word was spoken. Just dad… And daughter… Taking in the full beauty of nature… both staying in the Now together. Powerful moment.
I quickly retrained the lens to get a silhouette.
- Touched down on American soil Oct 9, 2017
- Completely fearless bird Oct 9, 2017
I assume this is a crow (I am not good with bird names). On Friday, I had come down for breakfast before the girls joined me. While enjoying my mimosa, I was joined by this bird. And by that I mean, it sat about a foot away from me on my table close the bread basket. I took a piece of bread and laid it on the table. Throughout my hand movements, it betrayed no signs of fear. Once I put the bread in front of it, it promptly took it and hopped over to the grass to eat it…
- One impressive head gear Oct 9, 2017
- Exploring the island – saw this while driving on the dirt road Oct 9, 2017
- Another boat soaking in the soft light of the dusk Oct 9, 2017