Relaxing on one happy island 0
Judy and I have just returned from our annual trip to our favourite island in the Caribbean, Aruba.
It’s a tiny island off the coast of Venezuela measuring only 19 miles by 6. No matter, it’s our second home for two weeks where we read, soak up the sun, lounge in the warm waters and visit with old friends.
As we age, we find that not all of our friends can be there with us, but so far most of us arrive each year, a little older and a little more worn around the edges but still intact. It’s life on the beach where we read, relax and recharge our batteries.
It’s the one time of the year that I read something beyond the newspapers. I still like the feel of a real book — so as Judy uses her electronic book, I try to cope with the pages blowing in the Aruban trade winds.
This year I was able to experience World War I with Ken Follett’s Fall of the Giants. At home I would never have the time to read a book of a thousand pages. It just doesn’t happen!
After a hard day at the beach, we head off to supper with the gang to experience the latest Aruban restaurants and some of our old favourites.
We feel obliged to check out the plethora of fine eating establishments that exist on this tiny little island. Aruba has more great restaurants than any place I have ever been. Trying all the restaurants would take more than a month without repeating and never eating at a chain restaurant.
Tough work but as they say, “Someone has to do it!”
With the dollar almost at par, the costs are more than reasonable, putting our North American restaurants to shame. Menu prices are comparable to Canada but the value is quite different for the equivalent price. Where else can you get a three course fresh fish dinner for under $30, often with a glass of Chilean wine included? Not only is the fish fresh, the cooking is gourmet. No prepacked servings and no portion controls in these restaurants!
My only complaint, the government has allowed North American franchises to locate and spoil the spell of the island.
Although Dutch, French, South American and Aruban foods dominate, the visuals of the gaudy fluorescent signs of North America spoil the landscape and the atmosphere. Unlike Bermuda, where franchises were banned in 1997, Aruba has given in to the demand for North American fast food.
It is beyond me why would anyone travel so far for food you could have delivered to your door at home? I guess some families just can’t quit the fast food frenzy!
But enough about my life as a food critic!
After two weeks of this wonderful life, two novels and who knows how many different eating establishments, it was time to depart. Bidding farewell to our friends and those exceptional menus we head to the airport, well tanned and much plumper.
As we leave, we encounter the Aruban cabbies who are some of the friendliest taxi drivers we have ever experienced in our travels.
If encouraged, most love to chat. They want to find out about you as you travel to and from the airport and in return they tell you about their family. It’s really like having an aunt or uncle driving you when you come to visit.
Aruba, it’s like family! That’s why we return!
As their license plates proclaim, it’s “One Happy Island”! Amen to that!
Shedding pounds upon returning from Aruba, Kent Walton can be reached at email@example.com