Monday, March 30, 2015

Aruba Part III

Saturday was our last full day in Aruba.  We had decided to rent a car for the day and see what this little country had to offer.

Breakfast at a regular deli.  It was recommended by the guide
book, and even though the food wasn't Aruban (it was French)
it was a very good choice.  I love bagels!!
The common languages in Aruba are English (whew!), Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento.  The latter is a hybrid language that started in the 17th century when Sepharidic Jews migrated with their African slaves from Brazil.  The slaves spoke a little Portuguese, some Dutch, and Arawakan.  There are some Spanish and English words thrown it.  The result is an amazing language that is so interesting to try to read!  Apparently there's no uniform spelling or grammar and has just been handed down through the generations.

About 4 or 5 miles from our hotel (which is at the end of the
tourist road) is the downtown area.

We walked in the "downtown" area for a bit but quickly found that it wasn't for us.  A lot of little tchotchky shops and a lot of very high-end shops.  I found out later that Aruba has good prices on jewelry (for US tourists) and clothing (for South American tourists…in the US we can find any high-end clothing brand for less money, apparently).  We didn't find any interesting museums or exhibits, and it seemed everything was set up for the cruise ship travelers (which makes sense, since during the daytime there can be ~thousands~ of tourists from the ships!).

One of the highlights was this pretty building.
Aruba is a Dutch island--actually, an independent entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  I thought it was very interesting that the first Dutch colonial governor was Peter Stuyvesant, who was also the LAST Dutch Director-General of New Amsterdam…before the English took over and renamed it New York.

I liked this little channel as well.
The guide book did have some options for lunch, but we were still full from breakfast so we just planned on an early dinner.  We decided to leave town and spend the rest of the afternoon at the resort.

On the main road in the tourist area.
We stopped by a grocery store on the way back.
 For dinner we wanted authentic Aruban food.  We had a couple of choices in our area, so we chose the one that opened earliest since we needed to be at Mass by 7pm.  The Old Cunucu House ("cunucu" means little house in Papiamento) was wonderful:

A painting of the restaurant.
We first had some funchi, a classic Aruban cornmeal "pancake."  For our main dish Marcus ordered the keshi yena (a meat-and cheese-heavy casserole) and I had a type of stew with beef (typically goat but Marcus didn't want to try that).  Everything was fantastic!

We had just enough time to make a visit to the Alto Vista chapel.  This was the first church on the island and it's located in the northwest corner.
Stations of the Cross on the way up.
 The scenery was amazing.  It was like being on the moon (if the moon had huge cacti).  Totally rocky, windy, dry, stark.  We could see--and hear--the other side of the island (see it in the photos) where the sea is very rough.  So different from the protected south side where all the resorts are.

This windblown tree is a "divi divi" tree.  No matter where
you are on the little island, you can always get back to the
nice beaches if you follow the tree.  (This one had a huge
cactus growing in the same place as well).

We made it down the hill and to Mass just in time.  St. Ann's was a beautiful church; I really enjoyed all the wood carvings at the altar:

To our great surprise and pleasure, we found out that Mass was being said in the native Papiamento language!  This was such a special experience, just to think about how it was the very same Mass that I knew, but yet it was so different.  What I thought was a simple Sunday obligation became a memory I will always treasure.  Funny how that works!

1 comment:

  1. I think this is my favorite Aruba post! How informative! I only know Peter S. and his role in New Amsterdam, nothing more. So that was an interesting fact to read! The pictures, especially the ones from your trip up to the northwest corner to attend Mass, quite fascinating! And to experience the Mass in the native language. So neat!