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26th January, 2017

Oranjestad. Aruba

A day at sea followed two port days, giving enough time for a modicum of recovery before arriving in Oranjestad, the port for Aruba, one of the Dutch ‘ABC’islands. Around the port not a great deal seems to have changed in the twenty odd years since I last visited. On the west coast however, there are many more hotels lining the beautiful sandy beaches and calm azure seas.

We joined a very jolly local chap called Benson, who told us he was determined to give us maximum enjoyment during our ‘Off-Road Adventure’. Three Land Rover Defenders headed off with 19 Saganauts strapped in up and behind the cab, holding on as Benson decided a reduction of speed around the roundabouts was not really required. There were a number of stops including one at ‘Natural Bridge’. No doubt this coral limestone bridge had stood for millennia, however one hurricane too many in 2005 brought it down during a stormy night. Fortunately there is a ‘Baby Bridge’still intact close by, and a great big poster of the ‘Big’one attached to the wall of the inevitable retailing opportunity. A few brave folks, including Mrs R, decided a walk over ‘Baby Bridge’was a must. I however, declined, and was suitably positioned to get the photograph of the century should the unimaginable happen.

We continued along the rugged dirt roads of the north coast, watching ‘mini self-drive 4-wheelers’coming towards us in formation. Like a line of ants in the distance getting ever closer, the occupants were all masked up in an effort to avoid the choking dust created by their own aggressive advance. They were followed by a couple of tourists in a very small hire car endeavouring to emulate the off road experience, with some obvious degree of difficulty. Benson gave them some friendly advice as we passed, which hopefully they took heed of, otherwise I reckon they may as well have kissed their rental deposit goodbye.

We continued on for another hour or so, ending up at California Lighthouse, built in 1914 and named after the vessel that was wrecked nearby in 1891. The site is a magnet for every Aruba scenic tour so it was pretty busy, much to the joy no doubt, of the owners of ‘Yum Yum’s’, a converted garishly painted trolley bus that sold drinks, ice creams, snacks, etc.

A forty five minute stop at Arashi Beach gave us time to relax after our ‘maximum enjoyment’adventure. It had been great fun and a superb way to see much of the island that the average ‘sun seeker’would never experience. We sailed just before sunset, passing under the flight path of the landing aircraft that bring in yet more tourists every day of the year.

Captain Philip Rentell

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