Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Show Me A Sign

If there is one thing we have decided about Aruba is that it's all about the signs, or complete lack of them!
The signs here are pretty entertaining and they come in every possible form.  For example one look into this helmet and there were tell tale signs that I probably wasn't the first one to use it.  
This should have been a sign to the locals to clear the roads!
The signs are full of grammatical errors
They often warn you of the obvious and are regularly spelled incorrectly
These pictures are from the Casibari Rock Formations.  We accidently found this place while trying to get to the Natural Pools by way of the Donkey Sanctuary.  Yeah no, we still haven't been to either place and the island is only 21 miles long by 6 miles wide.  There are no street signs anywhere, and we are beginning to wonder if there is a conspiracy among the locals regarding givng directions to the tourists.  We believe they have agreed not to give correct directions to the tourists on purpose!  While we have had fun exploring the island, we can count on getting lost anywhere we go.  On the bright side we've seen all sorts of interesting things along the way.  What we found on this detour were these massive boulders, precariously stacked and plopped onto the middle of the island, surrounded by cacti just minutes from the beach.  A sure sign that we are nowhere close to home! 
This one was hilarious!  I think they really thought that this image would bring in the business, we saw it right after we ordered our lunch, before snorkeling at Baby Beach.  It was a gorgeous  beach and surprisingly, Big Mama's Grill served up a tasty fish sandwich!
This was a sign that the Van Wags were ready to get their snorkel on!
The entrance to the national park along the beach.
There were no signs or information anywhere telling us what visiting hours were for the cool caves located in the park, in fact I don't think there is any info anywhere regarding these caves, I just knew they were here because I read a tourist book.  They bothered with a sign for the rules, but no info on getting us past the locked gate!
This next sign was a sad one.  Just when we had accidentally found the road to the Natural Pools, we really thought we had finally found the road to the Donkey Sanctuary, our gas meter told us we were on empty.  A sure sign that our perfect day  with the quad and the rhino, was coming to an end.  There was no time to get gas and ride the maze back to where we were.  It had been gorgeous and full of fun, guess we'll have to rent them again later in the week and cross our fingers that we'll make it back to the pools the second time around!
This sign we saw on Sunday had us busting up!  Really, right next to the ice cream counter and their price list they needed to give us a friendly reminder not to toot?  Wow!
This sign was in the bathroom of the beautiful place we ate dinner last night...Have you ever heard of not being able to flush your TP?  The other questionable thing was that the "mansion" they referred to was only about 2200 sqft! 
We've been cracking up at the use of plurals here too.  The most common one is in every single menu so far...shrimps.  
This last sign is proof that there are teenagers in Aruba doing the same thing as my son back home, playin' The Game.  Sorry Wes you loose! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

We had reserved a Jeep for our week long stay in Aruba, but when we got here and added in all the extra hidden costs, and the price for the Jeep almost doubled, we decided that what we really wanted was a dusty, slightly smelly, short on leg room Nissan sedan.  We have been thrilled about the choice ever since!
Loading ourselves into the car with all of our luggage was awesome. It was kind of like playing the video game TETRIS.  We got a few of the suitcases into the trunk and the rest we squeezed betwen us and onto our laps.  That is a collective "we" seeing as I was the one driving, and couldn't possibly have held one on my lap, but I know everyone else really enjoyed it.  These Nissans are pretty high tech and we struggled to find a way to open the trunk, literally.  Reed has done an Iron Man a half Iron Man, and several marathons, but the guy still hasn't figured out his own stregnth.  When the Nissan logo popped off the back of the car he seemed pretty surprised.  We looked at it as a total bonus because now we had quite a stunning pendant to hang from a thick gold chain, making Reed a fashion icon for the rest of the islanders to look up to.
Jeff and I have been doing most of the driving and we have boosted our self esteem at least a few notches.  We are both rethinking our career choices of realtor and lawyer, and are considering a family move to Daytona Florida.  The traction on the tires of our sweet ride has provided us several tire screeching spin outs and abrupt stops.  We are getting really good and are pretty much on the fast track to becoming professional race car drivers.  Jeff is already starting to grow his mullett.
The Nissan has surprised us with its abilities on the rugged and often rough terrain.  We tested it out last night just before dinner when Jeff was a bit opposed to my suggestion of a parking space and attempted to jump a cement  parking block out of the field we were in.  No bumps, no bruises, no harm, no foul and we were off to dinner without a hitch.

Today we took the trusty mobile through the signless streets of Aruba in search of the church building.  Our adventure eventually got us there just in time for the opening hymn in the Spanish branch.
After church we decided to really press our luck and go cross country with the Nissan.  The paved roads ended abrubtly and we fearlessly trugded into the unknown rocky roadways in search of Arubas Natural Bridge.

 The original bridge collapsed in 2005, but lucky for the small little resturaunt and shop at the site , another smaller bridge is forming.  We had fun exploring the area until Jeff was reprimanded for heading into the danger zone by one of the locals. He wasn't the only one heading into the Danger Zone, we were all totally walking on the wild side!
Next it was off to the old ruins of the gold mine.
We don't know the story behind all the little stacks of rocks that blanket hundreds of yards of the shoreline, but we are pretty sure Jeff is going to be going into 7 years of bad luck for knocking a few of them down.
Shelley and I had fun playing with our cameras taking pictures in the ruins while Jeff climbed like a monkey into little doorways and Reed collected all the trash!  We did squeeze in a little lovin' though.
Since the Nissan had done so well on the Jeep trails thus far we decided to toally ignore the handful of locals who said she could never make the trails between the mine and the Alto Vista Chapel, the next stop on our afternoon adventure.  I did finally turn the wheel over to Jeff so he would feel more comfortable with the rough terrain we were covering, but we never had a doubt that our tough ride could make the treck.  We thought it was strange that everyone else on the trails were driving 4x4 Jeeps and ATV's, when clearly the vehicle of choice was a sedan.  At one turn Jeff was nice enough to stop and roll down the window long enough to suggest to the local in the Jeep that he probably couldn't make the trail in his truck, but that if he had access to a sedan we would totally recommend it.
Just to be on the safe side, we did check the underneath side of the car to be certain that none of the louder bumps had actually punctured anything. Of course we were fine, that Nissan is a tough machine, but we likely won't tell the rental company exactly where we drove the vehicle, however, we will be recommending they put a lift package on the sedan for some of its more adventurous renters.  
The Alto Vista Chapel was a darling little place but you must be properly at tired to go there...
We opted for the paved roads from the chapel to the California Lighthouse where we stopped for lunch. 
As beautiful  as the view from the resturaunt was, I think I will likely remember it more for  the platter of raw beef placed in front of Jeff, for the hot dogs, and for the poor waiter that did his best to answer ALL of Jeff's questions.
We are grateful for the insurance package we purchased, it's made our adventures much more enjoyable and brings to mind somthing Jason Rickards once said ...what kind of car can go anywhere? A rental car!  Our motto for the week regarding the car comes from another friend... Don't be gentle, it's a rental! I'm certain the rest of the week will provide many more hair raising, tire skidding, ego boosting rides in the Nissan.  I think she needs a name. Suggestions are welcome.