Aruba is full of charming bars, like the legendary Charlie’s. The locals also drink a lot of rum. So it’s true that “Aruba is the place where you have your feet in the sand and a cocktail in your hand.”
A local restaurant had iguana soup on the menu – meant to be a strong aphrodisiac. My favourite dish was the Barracuda – a smoked salad. After that you’ll be ready for the National Park, where the iguanas are most definitely not on the menu. You’ll also find rare and exotic cacti, aloe, tropical flowers and birds.
The best-known lighthouse in Aruba is the California, named after the famous ship which was close to the Titanic when she sank. It is now a popular dive site.
Aloe Vera is big here. Aruba was once one of its biggest exporters. Instead the island economy has become focussed on tourism. There are plenty of caves to explore and even an old windmill shipped to Aruba piece by piece from Holland.
The local Dutch colonial architecture in pastel colours is beautiful. But I also witnessed mass poverty elsewhere; San Nicholas, for example, is a ghost town.
Lourdes Grotto is another Aruba feature – in 1959 the Virgin Mary was said to appear here. There is darkness in Aruba, though, too. I thought there must have been a lot of witchcraft on the island –I noticed, voodoo dolls stuck outside telegraph poles next to somebody’s house – then while asking for directions back to Palm Beach, I stumbled into a shop full of tarot cards, and strange spell paraphernalia.
Aruba is an island like no other.